“Nepotism works,” said New York Times publisher Arthur “Punch” Sulzberger, who died last month at age 86. Bullshit. Willow Smith is one thing: “Whip My Hair” was a bona fide bubblegum-swag hit for the post-Lil Mama era, Jay-Z’s cosign surely counts for something, and hanging out with Odd Future rappers is the right kind of trolling. Just because you’re a famous actor, rapper, or fashion designer’s kid shouldn’t make your music any more (or less) worthy. If you want to escape the shadow of Growing Pains, you’d better be able to sing like Robin Thicke.
Which brings us to Kid Rock’s 19-year-old son, Robert James Ritchie Jr., who, as FACT points out, is now a budding rapper. Though Kid Kid Rock has released a free digital EP under the name Bandit, his website says he’s now going by simply Robert James. As MLive reports and Michigan venue Blind Pig’s website confirms, Robert James will be opening for Eminem-signed Alabama rap tongue-twister Yelawolf on October 27 in Ypsilanti, Michigan, at Eastern Michigan University’s Pease Auditorium.
So is Junior any more musically palatable than Dad, who, yes, was on SPIN’s cover once, but also worked with Uncle Kracker, failed to produce another “All Summer Long” smash with fogey-ish 2010 album Born Free, and has been found guilty of hanging out with Creed’s Scott Stapp (never mind what they were doing)? First, the necessary disclaimers: Ritchie is still really young, and opening up a local college show for a still-underappreciated MC ain’t exactly an eight-night stand at Barclays Center. That said, this apple hasn’t fallen too far from the tree, with rap-rock that resembles a slightly fresher take on Senior’s pre-country work: He has posted his own version of Drake’s “The Motto,” and his EP’s “Rolling in the City,” while rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, also reverses it like Missy Elliott — listen below.
Stapp associations aside, James has a tricky legacy to live up (or down) to: Straddling rap and Southern rock, his father is a multiplatinum commercial success, though he’s never fared quite as well with the critics. Kid Rock is also practically the anti-Bruce Springsteen: Though we had our doubts about Mitt Romney’s wisdom in choosing the Bob Seger-dusty Born Free title track as his campaign theme song, Rock has been an avid advocate for the Republican presidential nominee (they both also presumably enjoy binders full of women).
How does James stack up with his father at a similar age? Check out “U Don’t Know Me,” a proto-Smashmouth single from 1993’s The Polyfuze Method, and be pleasantly surprised by the charms of a pre-“Bawitdaba” Kid Rock. In other words, the son of the bullgod might only have a couple of years to go. Shout out to Chet Haze.