Devil Without a Cause

Album: Devil Without a Cause (1998)

Songfacts®:

  • "Devil Without A Cause" is Kid Rock's coming out party, the title track to his first album with Lava Records, a division of Atlantic. The song is basically an extended boast, telling his story of coming up in the Detroit music scene, paying his dues, and landing his big record deal. Now he's making "Matchbox Twenty money," referring to the Rob Thomas-fronted group that was also signed to Lava and sold 12 million copies of their 1996 debut album. But unlike the clean-cut pop acts like Matchbox Twenty, Rock exists to cast shadows on the establishment music scene with his bawdy, unkempt version of rap-rock that anyone near an ocean tended to despise.

    It wasn't his first go-around with a major label: Rock was signed to Jive Records, which released his debut, Grits Sandwiches for Breakfast, in 1990. Jive specialized in hip-hop acts, and couldn't find an audience for Rock in that market. Dropped from the label, he released two independent albums before Lava found him and figured out how to market him. With national exposure, his career took off, bringing his bold predictions in this song to fruition.
  • The title is a play on the classic James Dean movie Rebel Without A Cause.
  • In the chorus, Rock repeats, "I'm going Platinum," meaning the RIAA certification of one million album sales in America. Rock spread a story that his record company asked him to take out the line because they thought it was too cocky, but that was likely a hype for his rebel/devil image. Remarkably, the album didn't just go Platinum, but 11x Platinum, selling 11 million copies. A tremendous feat, but still less than Matchbox Twenty.
  • The main groove on this song was sampled from "Down on the Avenue," a 1976 soul track by Fat Larry's Band.
  • Rock's 3' 9" sidekick Joe C. gets a verse on this song, rapping about how he's "got more game than Coleco." Joe had a number of medical problems, and died in 2000 at age 26.
  • The "we like to party, rock the party" chant at the end of this song originated with Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force, which did it on their 1983 track "Looking For The Perfect Beat."
  • Rock performed this with Joe C. at the 1999 Woodstock festival, which is remembered for the violence and looting that took place. Rock's set though, took place early on the second day before most of the mayhem ensued. It was a big moment for him, as he was building a substantial audience far outside of his Michigan stronghold.
  • Rock's guitarist, Kenny Olson, and DJ, Uncle Kracker, both earned songwriter credits on this one.

Comments: 7

  • Brent from Colorado"self made and paid sawed off 12 gauges up that ass for the nine eight."
  • Austin from Smallsville,new England, --This song is about kid telling people that he is going to make it big. And kind of showing off to the people who didn't believe in him. Also Joe C. raps in the final verse and says "3'9 with a ten foot d#^k.
  • Joycemorrison from Phi luv Kid Rock -- he makes pretty fckin lyrics!
  • Nicole from Cave City, KyHey Peoples,
    Kid-Rock needs 2 Keep It Comin' W/The Good Stuff!
  • Kurt from Downers Grove, IlJoe C didn't do squat to make this song more popular, Zac.
  • Jon from Grand Forks, NdKid Rock got the ultimate revenge by later naming his platinum album "CockY"
  • Zac from Drexel, MoThis is a very cocky song by Kid Rock but I guess you can be cocky if you sell 10 million records. Joe - C made this song alot more popular than it would have been if only Kid Rock would have just done it.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

David Bowie Leads the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired Men

David Bowie Leads the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired MenSong Writing

Bowie's "activist" days of 1964 led to Ziggy Stardust.

Waiting For The Break of Day: Three Classic Songs About All-Nighters

Waiting For The Break of Day: Three Classic Songs About All-NightersSong Writing

These Three famous songs actually describe how they were written - late into the evening.

Philip Cody

Philip CodySongwriter Interviews

A talented lyricist, Philip helped revive Neil Sedaka's career with the words to "Laughter In The Rain" and "Bad Blood."

Julian Lennon

Julian LennonSongwriter Interviews

Julian tells the stories behind his hits "Valotte" and "Too Late for Goodbyes," and fills us in on his many non-musical pursuits. Also: what MTV meant to his career.

Mike Rutherford (Genesis, Mike + The Mechanics)

Mike Rutherford (Genesis, Mike + The Mechanics)Songwriter Interviews

Mike Rutherford talks about the "Silent Running" storyline and "Land Of Confusion" in the age of Trump.

U2

U2Fact or Fiction

How did The Edge get his name? Did they name a song after a Tolkien book? And who is "Angel of Harlem" about?