For both fans and detractors who were unsure of its origin, the music video for Kid Rock’s new single Don’t Tell Me How to Live does actually belong to the country-rock-rapper, who some simply describe as a “concept artist.”
The rap-masquerading-as-rock not only features Canadian rock band Monster Truck, but is effectively a vulgarity-laden, self-aggrandizing cover of their, much more tame, 2016 single by the same name. While the track makes itself easy target practice for anyone interested in denigrating from the right, Kid Rock, whose real name is Robert James Ritchie, does have a concept in his rhyme as he targets “these minions, and their agendas.”
Outspoken conservative outlet Breitbart News described the video as “playful” and full of relevant memes, while RedState, another aggressive, right-leaning, anti-establishment website admitted “his latest effort contains more than its share of strong language — even for the Kid.”
While mainstream publications on the left are, thus far, missing the fun and not commenting, entertainment publications are piling on bizarre and repulsive characterizations that one may begin to suspect might even be the straight facts of this raucous video, because, after all, one hears them so often. In the words of popculture.com, “The responses to Kid Rock’s new song vary wildly depending on where you look.”
No matter which side you’re on, there is little room to argue that The Kid’s new track didn’t tip the scales from artistic license towards self parody to the extent that Weird Al Yankovic was justified when he weighed in on the matter in a Nov. 22 tweet, “To everybody that’s congratulating me right now on my new Kid Rock parody video, let me clarify – that’s not me. That’s actually Kid Rock.”
The upcoming album hosting Don’t Tell Me How to Live is a fat one, featuring three discs: one hip-hop, one rock, and one country. The endeavor is Kid Rock’s first new album since 2017, although in the interim he has kept busy, appearing at events including rallies and the CMT music awards.
Appearing on stage at the 2019 CMT awards, Kid Rock was amiable and affable towards a fellow artist at the Artists of the Year ceremony, describing her as “an inspiration to everyone who risked everything to chase the dream that ignites their soul.”
Such characterful praise for Ashley McBryde, a then-up-and-coming new female performer, may surprise newcomers tuning in to the litany of four-letter epithets in Don’t Tell Me How to Live, but it’s important to remember in context that The Kid is indeed a performer. From time-to-time, the public forgets this about pop icons, in favor of painting with a broad, politically-tinted brush.
The Kid has been a popular and perennial musician on the country scene, a genre which reaches a large base. According to proprietary research by the CMA published by Billboard, “42 percent of the population is a country music fan, which breaks down to 95 million country music fans in the United States.”
Like many successful popular singers, Rock conveys emotions packed into performance. For those who have cultivated classical tastes, while The Kid’s genre is a rough one, its soul is often unmistakable. Kid Rock’s 2017 album Sweet Southern Sugar generated four hit singles, including The Greatest Show on Earth, whose official music video gained over 8 million YouTube views and was featured as theme song for the WWE’s 2017 Survivor Series.