MGK on his time in Denver and how his live performance is the best hip-hop has ever seen
Machine Gun Kelly (named after the infamous early 20th Century gangster) is well-known for his rapid-fire delivery, rabid fan base, "Wild Boy" persona and crazy antics (during a performance for a Microsoft Store, he was stomping across tables, destroying several computers before getting shut down by the very company that hired him). MGK asserts that he is also a superior lyricist and anybody who doesn't see it isn't on his level. The rapper's first studio album, Lace Up, has done well, debuting at number four on the Billboard Charts and receiving generally positive reviews. MGK is only 22 years old, and with his career only really beginning, he has plenty of time to convert the nonbelievers.
Westword: Tell me what it was like to be a XXL Freshman. Was there anyone there that you were unfamiliar with, and did you discover anyone that you really liked from getting to do that?
Machine Gun Kelly: Only person I didn't know who they were there was Macklemore.
Are you a fan of his now?
Yeah, I mean, he's a good person. His music doesn't really speak to me 'cause we don't like... I don't know, he hasn't lived the life I've lived, so it doesn't really speak to me. So he's a good person and a cool friend to make.
Now that you're a XXL Sophomore, who do think should be included in this year's freshman class?
Shit, I couldn't even tell you. For real.
Is there anyone new that you're a fan of?
That's what I'm saying; I don't even know who's coming out right now.... I've been in Cleveland for the past month straight. I took the beginning of the month off, so the only new artists I'm paying attention to now are the ones in Cleveland.
You have two of the best all-time fast rappers on your "Edge of Destruction" track? Who would you say is the best fast rapper other than yourself?
Probably Tech [N9ne]. Tech and Busta Rhymes.
And I imagine Bone Thugs have been a source of inspiration for you. Do you have any plans to work with them?
Yeah, of course. We already have worked together....This song from this mixtape called Bitch I'm From Cleveland, but we worked on a song back in the day that we never released, either.
I feel like you get most of your credit for your technical skill and your speed when you rap, but you obviously have a lot of passion, too, and you come up with some really visceral images....Can you talk about what you feel you bring to the table besides the flow and raw energy that you're known for?
First off, we bring the best live performance, any genre of music, that you've ever seen. Not any genre, I take that back, but we bring the best live performance hip-hop has seen. Period. I think also we cross genres and do it the right way.
Yeah, that's one of the things I was going to ask you about because I know you were a punker before you were a rapper...
Yeah, still am. You can see it in my performance.
Yeah, and I was just wondering what sort of similarities you thought there were between punk and rap.
I don't know. I guess I've never really thought that deep on it. I was just a young kid, and I just kinda, like, I was into both, and I couldn't sing, so I was like, "Shit, let me try rapping."
Is being really lyrical a goal of yours?
Yeah, I think I already am! I think I'm just ahead of my time. I think people just don't understand the way that I present my lyrics. I don't, like, give them an obvious way in obvious metaphors; the way I speak on my shit is very, very, you know...
Like a line I said, "Fought every temptation, shit, I guess I'm David Ruffin, huh?" That's a very deep line, you know what I'm saying? There's many different meanings in that line, but a lot of people that line would probably blow over people's heads. They wouldn't get it. I'm already very lyrical; motherfuckers just listen too slow.
So you think in ten years people are going to go back and say, "Damn, we missed the train on MGK."
Yeah, they're going to be, "Holy shit! I missed out on this? What the fuck was I thinking?"
Would you still call DMX your all-time favorite?
Not all time, but definitely in my top three favorite rappers: 2Pac, Eminem and DMX.
You got a chance to record with him on your album. What was that like?
Ah shit, it was deep, it was dark. It was like an emotional rollercoaster, you know what I'm saying? Me and him are very relatable, so we got along really well, you know what I'm saying? We spent like ten straight hours together, just kickin' it, talkin' shit.