When Kid Rock first surfaced in the late '90s, slightly goofy hip-hop trappings and incongruous long hair in tow, he seemed like the last possible pop artist in line for the career longevity coupon. Clearly, we owe him more credit than the naysayers gave him at the outset. Perhaps sniffing out that the rape-y arc of rap-rock was soon fading, just a few years later, he had begun his Great American Reinvention. The first hint of the softer, sensitive Kid Rock came in 2001 via a duet with the very un-hip-hop Sheryl Crow, the almost-country ballad "Picture."
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Fast-forward ten years and "Bawitdaba" and dancing dwarves are all a distant memory. Kid Rock in 2k11 is a bona fide working-man's troubadour who proudly flies the Skynyrdian musical flag despite hailing from decidedly far north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Well, geography be damned. To the Kid Rock fan nation, country is a state of mind, one only underscored by the opening act on his current tour, Jamey Johnson. Though he's a success story of the Nashville machine, the 36-year-old is also himself known for refusing to kowtow to genre traditions, winning fans and Grammys with a rock 'n' roll swagger.