An unlikely hero amongst the people, Machine Gun Kelly is the Cleveland City representer who went from sleeping on couches down on his luck to inspiring a generation of youths with his reality check rhymes and tales of hope. Signed to Diddy’s Bad Boy label, MGK is one of the premiering artists who are a part of Diddy’s Bad Boy reinvention. His rapid fire flow and emotionally driven lyrical content combine to create a well rounded individual who could well become an underground icon over time if he manages to keep his huge following in tact.
As a fan of punk, rap, rock, and pop, MGK’s debut album Lace Up is an amalgamation of styles, genres, and musical delivery. One minute you’re listening to the album’s introduction, ‘Save Me’, which features M. Shadows and Synyster Gates of the metal band Avenged Sevenfold, while the next you’re thrust into lyrically honest pop song ‘All We Have’.
With a live show discussed the world over due to MGK’s high octane work ethic and unfiltered onstage antics, its no surprise to discover that some of his music offers the same kind of rowdy delivery. As a case in point, immediately following one another the tracks ‘Wild Boy’ – MGK’s breakthrough single featuring Waka Flocka Flame – and the Lil’ Jon assisted ‘Lace Up’ push the boundaries of aggression like a bulldozer through concrete.
On a more dark tip than aggressive one, teaming up with DMX once again on ‘D3mons’ offers a chilling journey in to the mind of an individual tormented by spiritual demons. With the use of sinister sound effects and spooky ad-libs, the track itself sounds like an extension of DMX’s own ‘Damien’ audio series; the only thing missing is X’s ‘Damien’ vocal change. Eerily outstanding from start to finish, playing this after dark is not a good idea for those with a heart condition. MGK really did his thing on this one.
On the flip side to his combative nature MGK is also a street disciple with much love for his people. With a long list of unfortunate past events – which include homelessness, seeing close friends die, and dealing with his best friend being locked up for a very long time – MGK is the perfect spokesperson for those wanting to rise from the bottom to the top. No track oozes passion, or encourages self-inspiration, like ‘End Of The Road’ does. With some sentimental production courtesy of MGK himself and Slim Gudz, and an uplifting hook sung by blackbear, the marriage between vocals, lyrics, and production on this particular record make it an emotionally-charged force not to be reckoned with; “Live for the moment, not by the past/ Homie live each day like it’s your last.”
With a tongue that twists and turns faster than some of the industry’s finest emcees, it only made sense that MGK team up with Twista and Tech N9ne. ‘Edge Of Destruction’ hears the Cleveland rhymer spit rapid rhythms with the aforementioned over a sped up hi-hat and piano-driven instrumental with no negotiation as far as verse pauses are concerned. Screaming, “Fuck the world,” the three emcees are forced to address the ups and downs of today’s world. MGK even goes one step further and questions what the late great Christopher Wallace would think; “Do you really think the Notorious B.I.G. would believe these guys?/ All these internet thugs that the internet finds.”
Switching things up slightly, commercial smash ‘Stereo‘ is an obvious choice for a single. Upbeat, catchy, with a vocally ear pleasing hook performed by Fitts of The Kickdrums, it’s actually one of the better pop records of 2012. While some of MGK’s usual mic offerings suit only one demographic this record is something all listeners can enjoy, sing along to, and ultimately dance to.
While some of the music on Lace Up sounds the same in parts – ‘Invincible’ and ‘Runnin’ particularly – the album still stands up as a potentially time testing creation and respectable body of work.
MGK is an artist with tons of authenticity, drive and passion for living life. Not concerned with bling blinging, popping bottles every day of the week, or topping pop charts the world over, he’s just a gifted individual who chooses to live life as if the world were his playground – and with this outlook on life comes creative, comical, honest, lyrically potent and enjoyable music.