Kid Rock was on track to release the follow-up to 2007's triple-platinum "Rock N Roll Jesus" last fall, but he opted to shift gears-and operations-to work with Rick Rubin. "It's hard to follow big records with another big record," Rock says. "I thought ["Rock N Roll Jesus"] was the best record I've ever made, and now I want to do one that's . . . better. So I'm open to anything." Rock went west with nearly 20 songs, including guest appearances by Lil Wayne and T.I. He also continued writing while on tour and has been wading through the pile of possibilities with Rubin. "It's kind of weird," Rock says, "because I've never written a record and then gone into the studio. I've always written the record as I've been in the studio." Rubin, meanwhile, has been pushing Rock to write "relevant" songs that hew closer to "Rock N Roll Jesus" tracks like "Amen" than, say, "Cowboy."