LISTEN: Kid Rock Releases 18-Track ‘Bad Reputation’ Album

by Lauren Boisvert
(Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Kid Rock recently released a massive 18-track album titled “Bad Reputation,” and he definitely drew on personal experience for this one. This album is an intimate look into Kid Rock’s psyche, and it’s an interesting place in there. He addresses love, loss, rock and roll, politics, and social media, mixing classic rock and country riffs to create his signature sound.

Right at the beginning of the album, Kid Rock decided to get heavily political and in-your-face, which seems like a bold choice. But, no one ever said Kid Rock wasn’t bold. Also, don’t ever try to tell him what to do. The first song on “Bad Reputation,” titled “Don’t Tell Me How To Live,” opens with a shocking declaration of “f–k all you h–s / Detroit ’til I die, motherf—er.” Again, no one ever said he wasn’t bold. Kid Rock has always known how he wants to live his life, and it’s loud and unapologetic.

After about the first six songs, things get a little less polarizing. “Rockin'” is a subtle country song about taking things slow and appreciating what you have. Kid Rock urges listeners to “sing this song together tonight / we may never be here again”; additionally, he has a song for everyone: the small town, the city, his road crew and fans, sinners, saints, and all of the above. He ends the song on a sweet note, painting the picture of him rocking on the porch with his granddaughter. At its core, it’s a song about living life to the fullest.

Kid Rock’s ‘Bad Reputation’ Gets Better the Longer You Listen

The song “Still Somethin'” recalls classic rock and roll and how it still has the same feeling it did years ago. It’s a pleasant song about how music sticks with us over time, and the reactions and memories we associate with certain songs or genres. Like the experience of being at a concert when the lights first come up; the exhilaration, raising your glass to the band, and singing along in the crowd.

In contrast, Kid Rock gets a little bit melancholy with “See You Again,” a wistful song about mourning. “I lost my way the day you departed / I can’t help it now, I miss my friend,” he sings. The song is heartfelt and a wonderful tribute for a close friend. It explores how Kid Rock grieves, imagining his friend’s voice when times are tough, and the fact that he may see them again when he himself passes. He briefly taps into his spiritual beliefs for a subtle image, imagining that he and his friend will meet again in what I can imagine is some sort of heaven.

Another good country-inspired song on “Bad Reputation” is “Cold Beer,” which starts out with some cool steel guitar and paints a picture of sitting around a campfire, drinking a beer, and just hanging around. This song does get a little political in the second verse, but texturally and lyrically, it’s classically country. Essentially, Kid Rock wants to live off the grid for a bit where he doesn’t have to be bothered by the news or social media.

‘Don’t Tell Me What to Do’: The Album

Overall, Kid Rock knows who he is with this album. He’s tapping into his personal experiences, his identity, and embracing whatever negative opinions people have of him. He’s confident in himself as a person and an artist, and it comes through on “Bad Reputation.” It’s loud, and controversial, and rejects the mainstream, but that’s par for the course with Kid Rock. It’s his usual mix of country, rock and roll, and a touch of rap, and it’s a masterpiece of Kid Rock’s personality distilled into 18 songs.