Devil Without a Cause is Kid Rock's fourth album. He wanted to make what he called "a redneck, shit-kicking rock 'n' roll rap album", combining influence from RunD.M.C., Lynyrd Skynyrd and AC/DC. Devil ended up going platinum 11 times, earning diamond certification. Several singles, including "Bawitdaba", "Cowboy", "I Am the Bullgod" and "Only God Knows Why", were also hits.
The album also scored critical acclaim for not only Kid Rock, but also within the context of the Hard Rock and Rap Metal genres, although other genres are tackled on the album, most notably Country Rap, which Kid Rock is considered to have pioneered with the examples on this album.
Loudwire named Devil Without a Cause one of the 10 best Hard Rock albums of 1998. Classic Rock magazine named it one of 10 essential Rap Metal albums. Blender named it one of the 100 greatest American albums. The album was also listed as one of the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
Based on his wild live shows with his band, Twisted Brown Trucker, Atlantic Records signed Kid Rock, despite initially passing on his demo based on not wanting to sign a white rapper. After executives saw him perform live, they realized Kid Rock was not merely a rapper, but a rock star.
Kid Rock re-recorded three songs from his underground albums: "I Am the Bullgod", which first appeared on The Polyfuze Method in 1993, "Where U At Rock" and "Black Chick, White Guy", which originally appeared on Early Mornin' Stoned Pimp in 1996.
Atlantic didn't want Kid Rock to release the song "Cowboy", credited as the first Country Rap song released on a mainstream album, because the label didn't think the fusion of country, Southern Rock and rap was marketable, but it ended up becoming one of his most popular songs, and Country Rap would later become a very marketable genre.
The Word Salad chorus of "Bawitdaba" combined the choruses of Busy Bee's "Making Cash Money" and the Sugar Hill Gang's "Rapper's Delight" into a gregorian chant.
Also on the album was Kid Rock's first Country Music hit "Only God Knows Why", a ballad about life on the road, the loneliness of fame, and struggling through existence. The song marked Kid Rock's first crossover hit on the country music chart, while all the other hit songs on the album were hits on the rock chart.
- "Bawitdaba" 4:27
- "Cowboy" 4:17
- "Devil Without a Cause" 5:32
- "I Am the Bullgod" 4:50
- "Roving Gangster (Rollin')" 4:24
- "Wasting Time" 4:02
- "Welcome 2 the Party (Ode 2 the Old School" 5:14
- "I Got One for Ya'" (featuring Robert Bradley) 3:43
- "Somebody's Gotta Feel This" 3:09
- "Fist of Rage" 3:23
- "Only God Knows Why" 5:27
- "Fuck Off" 6:13
- "Where U at Rock" 4:24
- "Black Chick, White Guy" 7:07
Even on the explicit edition of the album, there are lyrics censored on "Cowboy":
- See the slimmy in the 'Vette, rolled down my glass and said, here, this dick fits right in your ass!
As well as:
- Cuss like a sailor, drink like a mick. My only words of wisdom are just "suck my dick!"
And on "Fuck Off":
- I get too much P to ever be no homo
- I don't rock for cancer
Additionally, the clean edition removes the songs "Fuck Off" and "Black Chick, White Guy".
The CD editions include a hidden track at the end of the album, a remix of "I Am the Bullgod". On the clean edition, it appears indexed on "Where U At Rock". It does not appear on the vinyl edition.
"Devil Without a Trope":
- Auto-Tune: Very blatantly on "Only God Knows Why".
- Badass Boast: The label really objected to Kid Rock rapping that he was "goin' platinum" on the title track, as it seemed like an absurd claim to make at the time, considering his lack of mainstream success up to that point, and they feared it would look ridiculous if the album didn't go platinum. Kid Rock stuck to his guns, and the album did go platinum. As he rapped in his later hit, "American Bad Ass":I. Did. Not. Stutter. When I said that
I'm goin' platinum, selling rhymes
I went platinum, seven times
Devil ended up going platinum four more times since then.
- Bowdlerise: Lampshaded on "Cowboy":"Curse like a sailor/Drink like a mick/My only words of wisdom are/<RADIO EDIT>"
- Call-Back: On the title track: "So, shut up now, and put my balls in your mouth"
- Country Rap: "Cowboy", "Wasting Time" and "Black Chick, White Guy"
- Cowboy: He wants to be one, after all.
- Face on the Cover: The cover just has Kid Rock's face and name. It doesn't feature the title at all. He also has braided hair, which he didn't have before or after.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Most of the album is in the 5-7 range. Outliers "Only God Knows Why" is a hard 2, and "Wasting Time" is a hard 3. "Welcome 2 the Party" and "I Got One For Ya" are too close to traditional Hip-Hop to really be measured.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: This album fused Hip-Hop, Heavy Metal, Funk, Blues, Southern Rock, Soul, Country and Folk music.
- New Sound Album: Devil Without A Cause saw a change from hardcore rhyming over sampled riffs, to a southern fried Rap Rock sound.
- N-Word Privileges: "Black Chick, White Guy"
- Rock Star Song: "Only God Knows Why" is a bittersweet example. It discusses how he achieved fame and money, but is lonely and can't find love, and seeks refuge in drugs and alcohol.
- "Wasting Time" samples a portion of Fleetwood Mac's "Second Hand News" as its bassline,
- The hook of "I Got One For Ya" comes from cult blues singer Swamp Dogg's song "Slow Slow Disco".
- Sequel Song: "Cowboy" could be considered one to "Desperate-Rado", though the vulgarity is toned way down. In "Desperate-Rado", Rock raps that his mom kicked him out so she could start a whorehouse, while in "Cowboy", Rock is heading to California so he can start a brothel on top of the Four Seasons hotel. You could interpret this as a character development.
- Singer Namedrop:
- My name is KIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIID...Kid ROCK!!
- Kid Rockin' up and down ya block
- Southern Rock: This influence is displayed throughout the album, much more prominently than on previous albums, but especially on "I Am the Bullgod", which mixes this with rap, Funk and Psychedelic Rock.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: On "Where You At Rock?", Kid Rock raps, "Ayn Rand couldn't stand me, so she banned me." Aside from being an alliterative rhyme, it's saying something about Kid Rock as a person. Ayn Rand was a philosopher whose philosophical system, Objectivism, promoted rational ego, meaning essentially a self-confident individual who takes pride in his own personal accomplishments. How this relates to Kid Rock is slightly sketchy, since Ayn Rand died in 1982 in New York, and couldn't possibly have ever encountered the brash, rambunctious Kid Rock in person, placing this verse within the context of a metaphor. Rand's novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, while championing rational ego, also featured antagonists who displayed irrational ego: the antagonists took credit for accomplishments they didn't actually achieve, and essentially got big heads about it, believing themselves to be as great or more than the heroes, while lacking their virtues or accomplishments. Kid Rock is saying that he has a larger ego than what is humanly healthy. In contrast, the level of ego, or confidence, of Rand and her characters, are within reason and justified, whereas Kid Rock is saying that his isn't.
- Word Purée Title: "Bawitdaba."