Machine Gun Kelly (rapper)
|Machine Gun Kelly|
MGK in 2013
|Birth name||Richard Colson Baker|
|Also known as||Machine Gun Kelly|
April 22, 1990 |
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Richard Colson Baker (born April 22, 1990), better known by his stage names MGK and Machine Gun Kelly, is an American rapper, songwriter and actor from Cleveland, Ohio. In 2011, he signed a record deal with Bad Boy, under the aegis of Interscope.
Life and career
1991–2009: Early life and career beginnings
Richard Colson Baker was born on April 22, 1990 in Houston, Texas, to missionary parents. MGK and his family moved all around the globe and took up residence abroad from Egypt to Germany, as well as throughout the United States in Chicago, Denver, and Cleveland. He settled in Denver, along with his father after his mother had left home, and the pair moved in with MGK's aunt. Following his father suffering from depression and unemployment, MGK endured bullying from other children in the neighborhood. He started listening to rap in the sixth grade, when he attended Hamilton Middle School, a school with an ethnically diverse student body in Denver, Colorado. The first three rappers that got him into the genre of hip hop as a child were Ludacris, Eminem and DMX, with MGK gaining severe interest in the genre after listening to DMX's "We Right Here" from the album The Great Depression (2001). MGK's home life was seldom stable, as he would regularly fight with his father. When he attended Denver's Thomas Jefferson High School, his father moved to Kuwait to work for the army and left him behind to live in his aunt's basement. During the course of living in the basement, MGK began experimenting with drugs and recorded his first amateur demo tape, "Stamp of Approval".
Following his father's departure, MGK stopped attending school and began to make a name for himself by calling out elder classmates. In 2005, his father returned to take them both to Kuwait before the pair were forced back stateside of Cleveland, where MGK attended Shaker Heights High School. While attending Shaker Heights High, he convinced a local t-shirt shop owner to become his manager, as the shop owner would double as a MC manager. Given the stage name Machine Gun Kelly by his fans due to his rapid fire delivery, he released the mixtape Stamp of Approval (2006). The release of the mixtape allowed for his reputation and profile to grow, which allowed MGK to begin performing at local Cleveland venues.
In March 2009, while he was on the verge of getting evicted, MGK traveled to Harlem's Apollo Theater, where he had consecutive victories, making him the first ever caucasian rapper to win at the Apollo Theater. He records music in his home studio which he refers to as the "Rage Cage", and started to gain exposure when he was featured on MTV2's Sucker Free Freestyle, where he freestyled numerous verses from his "Chip off the Block" single. In February 2010, he released his second mixtape 100 Words and Running, where he derived his catchphrase, "Lace Up", which started as a mixtape interlude, before making it a prominent reference in his music. Despite relative modest success and rising popularity, MGK found himself working at Chipotle to afford rent, as well as being kicked out by his father after graduating high school. MGK soon also became a father. After he was kicked out, MGK had to move in with Slim Gudz and Dubo in his manager's mother's basement, where he wrote and recorded the majority of his first album.
2009–12: Record deal and Lace Up
In May 2010, he made his national debut with the single "Alice in Wonderland", which was released on iTunes and accompanied a music video along with the song. It was released via Block Starz Music. The single earned MGK the "Best Midwest Artist" at the 2010 Underground Music Awards and his "Alice in Wonderland" clip won Best Music Video at the 2010 Ohio Hip-Hop Awards. He released his second mixtape in November 2010 titled Lace Up which featured the hometown anthem "Cleveland", which was then played at Cleveland Cavaliers home games and went on rotation on Z107.9 in Cleveland. The mixtape was recorded in three months in 2010 during a creative burst. Following the success of the mixtape, which garnered him national exposure, he became featured in the magazine XXL in 2011. He then appeared on the Juicy J track Inhale which also featured Steve-O from the television series Jackass in the music video.
In March 2011, MGK participated in his first SXSW show in Austin, Texas, and at the show, he was approached by Sean Combs, who had offered MGK a recording contract with Bad Boy Records, which is associated with and has its content distributed by Interscope. Prior to the contract, he was featured on the XV song "Finally Home". After signing for Bad Boy, MGK released the music video for the song "Wild Boy", which featured Waka Flocka Flame and was produced by GB Hitz. The duo appeared on BET's 106 & Park to promote the single. In mid-2011, MGK signed a deal with Young and Reckless Clothing and then announced a studio release for his first EP, Half Naked & Famous, on Twitter. On February 2, 2012, he tweeted from his official Twitter page, hinting on a March release for the EP. He stated:
Once March hits... it's gonna be a wild ride for all of us. We're gonna watch something we've seen come from the bottom rise way up. LTFU.
MGK announced via an official statement that his debut album would be titled Lace Up, and would have an intended release on October 9, 2012. "Wild Boy" served as the promotional single for the album and the song debuted on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number 98. It was soon certified gold by the RIAA. The song "Invincible" was released on iTunes on December 16, 2011 featuring co-writer and singer Ester Dean as the second single of the album. The song is featured in a commercial for the HTC ReZound as well as the official theme song of WrestleMania XXVIII. WWE also used the song to highlight John Cena in his match with at the event, with MGK also performing at WrestleMania prior to the main event. "Invincible" is also currently the theme for Thursday Night Football on the NFL network. WWE also used the song "Invincible" to again highlight Cena on his rematch with The Rock at next year's event. On December 14, 2011, MGK was named the Hottest Breakthrough MC of 2011 by MTV. On March 18, 2012, MGK won the MTVu Breaking Woodie award before being featured on the cover of XXL as part of their annual "Top 10 Freshmen list" along with fellow rappers Macklemore, French Montana, Hopsin, Danny Brown, Iggy Azalea, Roscoe Dash, Future, Don Trip and Kid Ink. On August 13, 2012, MGK self-released a mixtape titled EST 4 Life, which contained both old and recently recorded material.
Lace Up was released on October 9, 2012. The album featured guest appearances from Bun B, Cassie, DMX, Ester Dean, Lil Jon, Tech N9ne, Twista, Waka Flocka Flame, Young Jeezy Dub-O excluding other. The album debuted at number 4 on the US Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 57,000 copies. It slid down to #22 in its second week, giving it a total of 65,000 copies sold. As of March 24, 2013, the album has sold 178,000 copies.
2012–present: Black Flag and General Admission
In early 2012, MGK announced that he would be releasing a new mixtape. Pusha T and Meek Mill were the first artists to be featured on the mixtape, both appearing on the track "Pe$o". MGK also announced that Wiz Khalifa will be featured on the mixtape. On February 18, 2013, MGK announced the name of the mixtape as Black Flag and revealed the cover. He also released a music video for "Champions" which features Diddy and samples The Diplomats song "We are the Champions", as the music video release served as a promotional video for Black Flag. On June 26, MGK released Black Flag without prior announcement. The mixtape also featured guest appearances from French Montana, Kellin Quinn, Dub-O, Sean McGee and Tezo. On June 4, 2013, MGK posted a picture of a letter on his social media accounts which read:
This project is dedicated to love, because for my entire life it has been taken from me. Granted, when it was given, I pushed it right back. I couldn't handle it. This was until I experienced the loss of love for what I love doing most: music. That was the one thing worth fighting for, even more-so then[sic] the love of my father. I've found that love again. And I plan on never surrendering it. Find what you love and fight!! Black Flag.
Following the release of Black Flag, rumors surfaced that MGK had begun working on his second studio album. In January 2014, he confirmed that he was in the early stages of working on the album, with 2015 being the scheduled year of release. On January 5, 2015, MGK released the song "Till I Die", which was accompanied with a music video on his VEVO account. Months later, a remix of "Till I Die" with hometown fellow hip-hop group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony was confirmed and released on June 5, 2015. The song aired via WorldStarHipHop and featured French Montana, Yo Gotti and Ray Cash. On May 18, 2015, the music video for another song titled "A Little More" was released, with the single featuring vocals from Victoria Monet. MGK soon had an interview with MTV, describing the reason as to why he wrote "A Little More". Stating in the interview: "People always came up to me after the first album and a lot of my friends back home said 'we need something for the streets' and then I did Till I Die. Months later, when I look back at the video [for Till I Die] I [was] like 'Okay, he's in jail, he's shot, he's dead, he snitched' and just to the point where it's sad and I wrote the song to describe how I see the world as a much mature person." He also updated the status on his second studio album, noting that the album is finished, and stating that the album would contain "more lyricism and [would be more] stylistically [influenced by] hip-hop but musically, sonically [would contain] more live instrumentation."
Following MGK's previous affiliation with the company, he made a return to WWE Raw on the June 15, 2015, episode of the show. The show was hosted in MGK's home town of Cleveland and MGK appeared as a guest on the show, performing "Till I Die" and "A Little More". As he finished performing, he was attacked and power-bombed through the stage by WWE Superstar Kevin Owens in a storyline. The attack was due to MGK's previous connection with Owens' rival, John Cena. MGK soon announced a national tour to begin in the summer of 2015, touring throughout the United States from early July to the beginning of September, with 31 planned dates throughout the course of the two months.
Following MGK's annual EST Fest in 2014, an event where fans gather to meet and greet the rapper, MGK handed 5000 fans a card with the name of the album written on it but he did not disclose the paper as having the album name written on it. On June 25, MGK released the title of his sophomore album as General Admission, due to be released in late September 2015. On July 23, 2015, MGK released Fuck It, a 10-track mixtape containing songs that didn't make the final tracklist of General Admission. The mixtape was reportedly released by MGK independently following Bad Boy consistently delaying the release of General Admission. On September 10, 2015, MGK announced the release date and the album art of General Admission, stating that the album would be released on October 16 of that year. General Admission released on the described date, and debuted at number 4 on the Billboard 200, powered by first week sales 56,000 equivalent album units; it has sold 49,000 copies in its first week, with the remainder of its unit total reflecting the album's streaming activity and track sales. The album also debuted at number one on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.
MGK has a child named Casie, who was born in 2008. Stated on his website: "Not long after, an 18 year-old MGK welcomed his own child, a daughter named Casie." Although MGK and the child's mother are no longer together, they are on good terms, with MGK going as far as using the advance money from his record deal to buy a new house for her and Casie.
MGK has openly spoken about his previous 2 year heroin addiction, making a song referencing the addiction titled "Lead You On", and with the song having a profound impact on him, it has allowed for him to self-refer "Lead You On" as his most meaningful song. MGK was forced through a period of homelessness to feed the addiction in 2010, and therefore attended a rehabilitation center in which he was aided by a guidance counsellor to combat the addiction. MGK even contemplated suicide by drug overdose, contemplating whether to "stick that shit up in my skin and overdose [on heroin] so I can’t have it again", but managed to combat the addiction and was able to remain sober since 2010, suffering no recorded relapse since.
Despite previously having a heroin addiction, MGK is open about his use of cannabis and he has claimed in many interviews that he smokes daily, describing it as a "source of happiness and a way people can feel a little more love [in their own right]." He has frequently mentioned cannabis references within sources of his music and rap persona, making it a forefront of both his rap and personal character.
MGK cites DMX and Eminem as music influences, as well as listening to rock bands Guns N' Roses and Blink-182 during his youth, citing the latter rap artist and rock band as major musical influences.
In May 2015, reports surfaced that MGK was dating hip hop model Amber Rose. On May 26, MGK confirmed the relationship during an AOL Build interview. He later elaborated about their relationship on New York Hot 97, saying:
- "Everything was completely natural; it wasn't anything that I had expected or had planned... You know, when the universe throws something your way... I'm one of those people who goes with it, and I don't fight it."
Rose also confirmed the relationship during an interview on Real 92.3 on June 2, 2015, saying: "We're dating. We're just getting to know each other. He's a really nice guy. He treats me really, really nice, and I have a blast with him."
- Studio albums
|2014||Beyond the Lights||Kid Culprit||Contributed to the soundtrack and credited as Colson "MGK" Baker|
|2012–15||WWE Raw||Himself||2 episodes|
|2013||Guy Court||Himself||Episode: "Sweepstakes"|
|2014||Unsung||Himself||Episode: "Bone Thugs-n-Harmony"|
|2015||Catfish||Himself||Episode: "Hundra & Emily"|
|2016||Roadies||Jesse||Main Cast; Filming|
Awards and nominations
|2010||Underground Ohio Music Awards||Best Midwest Artist||MGK||Won|
|Best Music Video||Won|
|2011||MTV Music Awards||Hottest Breakthrough MC||MGK||Won|
|2012||MtvU Woodie Awards||Breaking Woodie||MGK||Won|
|MTV Europe Music Award||Best US Act||Won|
|2013||MtvU Woodie Awards||Woodie of the Year||MGK||Won|
|2014||Underground Interviews Awards||Rapper of the Year||MGK||Won|
- "21. Machine Gun Kelly — The Best 25 Rappers 25 And Under". Complex. June 14, 2012. Retrieved August 25, 2013.
- XXL Mag April 2011; "Show & Prove" (Machine Gun Kelly)
- "Pinellas County Sheriff's Office – Subject Charge Report". Pinellas County, FL. January 29, 2012. Retrieved February 20, 2012.
- "Machine Gun Kelly, rising rap star and Shaker Heights High School grad, busted for 'brawling' in Florida." The Plain Dealer. January 30, 2012. Retrieved February 26, 2012.
- FunkWorm (Jan 23, 2012). "How They Came Up: The Machine Gun Kelly Story". Indie Hip Hop. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
- "Machine Gun Kelly: My Life". machinegunkelly.com. April 22, 2011. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
- Cleveland's own MGK is riding a wave of 'raging' rap. The Plain Dealer. Retrieved August 24, 2011.Slim Gudz is his best friend
- "Nardwuar vs. Machine Gun Kelly". YouTube. Retrieved August 25, 2013.
- Twista, Shawnna, Big Sean & Rhymfest Join Forces On "Midwest Block Starz" | Hot 107.5. Hothiphopdetroit.com (April 8, 2010). Retrieved October 9, 2012.
- iTunes – Music – Alice In Wonderland by Machine Gun Kelly. iTunes Store.com (August 11, 2010). Retrieved October 9, 2012.
- Machine Gun Kelly – Alice In Wonderland | BlockStarzTv.com. YouTube. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
- "Who Can Get Busy": XXL’s Feature On the Growing Trend of White Rappers April 2011 Magazine Excerpt. Xxlmag.Com. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
- Video: Machine Gun Kelly – Naked & Almost Famous (Ep.1). The Source (March 20, 2011). Retrieved August 24, 2011.
- New Music: XV x Machine Gun Kelly "Finally Home". Rap Radar (February 22, 2011). Retrieved August 24, 2011.
- "Billboard.com: Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved January 19, 2012.
- iTunes Store. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
- iTunes Store. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
- MGK "Tears Up" Verizon Commercial. Rap Radar (November 17, 2011). Retrieved October 9, 2012.
- Machine Gun Kelly Named MTV 'Hottest Breakthrough MC Of 2011'. Baller Status. Retrieved December 15, 2011.
- Machine Gun Kelly wins MTVu Breaking Woodie 2012. MTV. Retrieved March 19, 2012.
- "And XXL’s 2012 Freshmen are…". 2DopeBoyz. February 28, 2012. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
- Martin, Andrew (August 13, 2012). "Mixtape: Machine Gun Kelly Presents "EST 4 Life"". Complex. Retrieved August 31, 2012.
- Caulfield, Keith (October 17, 2012). "Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Score Top Billboard 200 Debut, Mumford Still No. 1". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Retrieved October 17, 2012.
- "Hip Hop Album Sales: The Week Ending 10/21/2012". HipHop DX. Retrieved October 24, 2012.
- Paine, Jake (March 27, 2013). "Hip Hop Album Sales: The Week Ending 3/24/2013 | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales". HipHopDX. Retrieved December 5, 2014.
- "Machine Gun Kelly's Next Single Will Feature Meek Mill and Pusha T [Video] – XXL". Xxlmag.com. January 28, 2013. Retrieved August 25, 2013.
- Horowitz, Steven J (February 18, 2013). "Machine Gun Kelly Announces 'Black Flag' Mixtape, Reveals Cover Art". HipHopDX. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
- "Machine Gun Kelly 'Black Flag'". Complex. June 26, 2013. Retrieved August 25, 2013.
- "Machine Gun Kelly 'Black Flag' (Artwork & Tracklist) – XXL". Xxlmag.com. June 11, 2013. Retrieved August 25, 2013.
- "This project is dedicated to...". Instagram.com. June 4, 2013. Retrieved June 28, 2013.
- HipHopDX (January 23, 2014). "MGK Says He's Scared To Listen To Eminem's "MMLP2"". HipHopDX.
- "Machine Gun Kelly talks directing his 'A Little More' music video and updates the status of his new album". MTV. May 18, 2015. Retrieved May 23, 2015.
- "album number two. #GeneralAdmission". MGK. June 25, 2015. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
- Biography. machinegunkelly.com
- "MGK talks heroin addiction". Genius. Jan 1, 2010. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
- "MGK Smoked A Pound Of Weed For This Interview". BroBible.com. Jan 1, 2010. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
- "Machine Gun Kelly's 30 favorite albums". Complex. September 30, 2012. Retrieved June 27, 2015.