Machine Gun Kelly (MGK), or Richard Colson Baker was born on April 22, 1990, in Houston and is an American rapper. MGK’s family has lived in many places: Egypt, Germany, and in the USA in Chicago, Denver and Cleveland. Richard’s parents are divorced, his mother leaves Richard and he moves in with his father at his aunts place in Denver. The relationship with his father is not very good. The two fight a lot. In the new neighbourhood where Richard has moved to, he is bullied by other kids, and he suffers from depressions. His father want him to get a job, but he can’t find one. Richard Colson Baker, who then attends the highschool ‘Hamilton Middle School’, starts to listen to rap music in order to forget all this problems. It is a multi-cultural school with a lot of diversity in students. He becomes a fan of the rappers Ludacris, DMX and Eminem. His father moves to Kuwait to work in the army. Richard had to stay with his aunt and live in a basement. At that point he starts to experiment with drugs and to react against the establishment. As he sais in the track ‘Till I Die’: ”I was getting high in the the six grade. Throwing hands in the hall on the First day”. Throwing hands refers to making gang-related hand signs.
In 2005 MGK drops out of school and his father takes him to Kuwait, until Richard moves again to his new school ‘Shaker Heights High School’ in Cleveland. One day, he visits a clothes shop and convinces the owner to becomes his manager because he wants to start a career in rap music. Because of his fast punchlines his fanbase gives him the stage name Machine Gun Kelly (MGK) and his nickname becomes Kells. In 2006 he throws his first mixtape online: ‘Stamp of Approval’ . His popularity increases after that and MGK gets offers for performances on several places in Cleveland. MGK gets a larger audience after he was invited by MTV2 to do freestyles. In february 2010 he throws the 2nd mixtape online: ‘100 Words and Running’. His statement ‘Lace Up’ on that album becomes his catch phrase. After this he becomes really well known at the larger rap audience. But he gets into a number of troubles. He becomes a young father at 18 years of age, he can’t pay the rent and his father doesn’t want him in his house anymore. So he has to get an extra side job.
In March 2011 MGK had a gig in Texas at a SXSW show where he was approached by Sean Combs aka P.Diddy and asked if MGK was interested in signing a contract at Bad Boys Records. He released the track ‘Wild Boy’, together with Waka Flocka Flame, which became a hit with 85,8 million views.
The rapper stands out because of his very rapid flow of rapping and his wordplay. Also, his appearance is remarkable. He has a punk-like appearance and sometimes wears feminine earrings. To say that MGK has a very creative personality would be an understatement. His lyrics mainly concern his life in his younger years and his parents are mentioned frequently. In the clip of the Hell & back remix, a young Kells can be seen who has an argument with his father. His songs have become big by the emotional way of rapping. He raps with a lot of grief and that is reflected in the lyrics of his tracks. The rapper puts a lot of effort in representing Cleveland, the place he grew up. His body is covered with tatoos that are related to Cleveland.
He has a talent for changes in the flow. He has released real gang songs about the life on the streets in Cleveland, while other songs appear to be very sensitive instead. Because he so clearly promotes Cleveland, MGK’s largest fanbase is based in Cleveland. Through music he transforms his weakness into his strength. He includes the bad things that happened to him in his music and by this he draws attention to bullying. In the song ‘A Little More’ a girl cuts her writst because she has been bullied. People run to the girls and MGK screams for an ambulance. Instead of helping, people are just watching and a few are taking pictures, but no one helps.
During the last couple of years, the rapper has released the mixtapes Lace Up (2010), Rage Pack (2011), Est 4 Life (2012), Black Flag (2013) and Fuck it (2015). Because of all these successes, he has now become mainstream. Machine Gun Kelly has become famous by presenting his songs with real felt emotion. His tracks are not about positive subjects but instead, deal with his own life. He thinks that by having become mainstream the quality of his songs has suffered, because the emotions of grief are not as strong anymore.
MGK is very outspoken. He has an opinion about almost everything. He thinks the media are focussed too much on the famous people instead of the ordinary man. Because of his verbal qualities he is easy to interview. In Amerika he is sometimes referred to as ‘the voice of the voiceless’.
In my opinion, MGK is one of the most underrated artists, and that’s also the opinion of MGK himself. He thinks he belongs to the 5 best rappers of this moment. On spotify, the track ‘Bad Things’ has been streamed 194 million times. Each month he has 15,1 million listeners.
The tracks I like best are: