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True story. In the early '90s a publicist friend had a client no one was interested in, so said publicist was reduced to begging a writer to interview the artist in order to pretend that someone actually cared enough to read about this artist. The artist in question? You got it: Kid Rock, who back in the day (as the kids love to say) was just some white guy from Michigan with a guitar, a dream and a noticeable obsession with Run-D.M.C.'s "Rock Box."

Of course, now the Kid is all that and close to 7 million bags of chips. His breakthrough CD, 1998's Devil Without a Cause, made this latest Motor City madman hotter than Detroit in August. So hot, in fact, that Kid can follow up his multiplatinum CD with his own hard-rocking version of The Basement Tapes. Translation: The History of Rock is not a new Kid Rock album. Yes, there are two new cuts, including the single "American Bad Ass" (RealAudio excerpt), which, as the title would indicate, is all swaggering, beer-chugging attitude and thundering, pimpadelic guitars. What you mostly get here are the cuts that got away, the songs that no one wanted to hear back in those early '90s days, the songs that (if we want to make more of this than we probably should) paved the way for the thugged-out, white trash uberlord who now reigns supreme.

Yes, in our current now-you-buy-'em-now-you-don't commercial environment, selling a few albums does give one license to spruce up one's outtakes and cut-outs, so Kid has wisely remixed some of his early odes to trailer park life b-boy style — like the bad-to-the-bone, rap-meets-rock early-'90s anthem "Prodigal Son" (RealAudio excerpt), which contains the soon-to-be-classic line, "Everything's slow motion/ Like I'm trippin' on 'Tussin."

Also cool is the Black Oak Arkansas-esque "Born 2 Be a Hick" (RealAudio excerpt), released here in demo form, but which still represents for the inbred with pride and potency. (You just gotta love anyone who belts out lines like "I like Grandmaster Flash and Johnny Cash/ I put Detroit City back on the map.") And how about the funked-up, bass-heavy "Paid," which finds Kid dropping the jewel, "I'm self-made like Henry Ford" — and probably believing it, too.

Perhaps what makes The History of Rock most interesting — and what ultimately validates Kid Rock as the real deal — is that these old tracks prove that his love affair with rap and rock wasn't something he just cooked up to weasel onto MTV's "TRL." Even when nobody was paying attention Kid Rock had one boot in hip-hop and one in biker-rock — and a mad love for mayhem and metal. Dude.