Fire Starter: Machine Gun Kelly
Go to one of Machine Gun Kelly’s shows and you might find it hard to believe that you’re at a rap concert. There’s a drummer, Blink-182 covers and shirtless crowd-surfing. But at his core, the Cleveland representative can spit bars with the best of them.
“If you like close your eyes and didn’t pay attention to any of the rage going on, you’d be like, ’Yo, this kid is one rapping rap kid,’ ” MGK told Mixtape Daily of his live show. “It’s really hard-core hip-hop; there is no mesh between anything else going on musically. But if you watch the performance and see the fans and open your eyes, it’s like a Mötley Crüe concert or something.”
Influenced by DMX (“He’s my favorite rapper of all time”), Kells began battle-rapping around 2004 while he was still in high school. His passion grew from the corner ciphers to the studio where he would lay tracks for his 2006 mixtape, Stamp of Approval. Back then, the MC who got the Machine Gun part of his moniker because of his rapid-fire raps was just getting his feet wet. In 2010, MGK would drop two tapes, 100 Words and Runnin’ and his breakthrough Lace Up.
Rather than build his buzz through the hip-hop blogs like many young rappers do, MGK crafted his fanbase in a more organic fashion. “Since we didn’t have the opportunity to be on the blogs and have that presence, we had to take it to the hand-to-hand, which turned out to work in our favor,” Kelly said. “I’d honestly say, three-fourths of my fans, I’ve shook hands with and personally handed them my CD and personally looked them in the eyes and be like, ’Yo, thank you, I really appreciate your support,’ rather than just them typing on a keyboard and seeing me that way.”
MGK’s popularity grew so much that the Cleveland Cavaliers began playing his hometown ode, “Cleveland,” in their arena at home games during the 2010-2011 NBA season. Now, MGK is on tour promoting his music and working on his debut album. Kelly didn’t have many details to give about the yet-untitled LP, but recently tweeted about a recording session he had with the Madden brothers of rock band Good Charlotte during his L.A. tour stop.
“Benji and Joel from Good Charlotte came over to the house and we vibed really well,” Kells recalled. “We went to the studio after the show and we just started listening to this electronic music. We sampled this guy name Skrillex and we made a great song.”
With some great rhymes, we’re sure!
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