Great title. Pretty good album. Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that Kid Rock decided to follow his Devil Without a Cause blueprint for its follow-up, since that was the record where he figured out how to mix "the hard rock/Southern rock with the hip-hop," creating a towering, powerful original blend of country-fried metal, heartland rock, knowing arena rock posturing, old-school rap, and classic American hard rock. It was what he planned to do from the outset, so why should he give it up now that he could finally do what he always wanted? Still, there's no denying that a sequel simply does not pack the punch and the surprise of the original, no matter how well it's constructed, and that's why it initially is easy to view Cocky as a bit of a disappointment, since it not only offers nothing new, it seems considerably tamer than its predecessor. How could it not? Not only does Kid have nothing to prove this time around -- he not only went platinum, he did it ten times-plus and then landed Sheryl Crow and Pam Anderson -- he no longer has his midget sidekick, Joe C., around to enhance the Midwestern carnival atmosphere of his entourage. That wild, white-trash Fellini-esque vibe is missed, as is the overwhelmingly great songwriting of Devil, but if not viewed as direct competition with its predecessor -- which is, after all, the
great hard rock album of the late '90s, filled with great sounds and songwriting -- Cocky is a pretty good sequel. One that roots itself deeper in classic rock than in hip-hop and one that isn't as gonzo or as funny, but is still much, much funnier and looser than any of its competitors, while rocking much harder. If the songs aren't classics or if it tends to drift instead of staying focused like Devil, it still is better than anything else in Kid's catalog and anything else from his rap-metal competitors (he makes all of them sound like rank amateurs), and it has better riffs and earthier rhythms than any hard rock artist since 38 Special, while retaining a true Michigan flavor. That might not make it the equal of Devil Without a Cause, but unpretentious, blue-collar hard rock hasn't sounded this good in nearly 20 years, and that's reason enough to celebrate.