|©Copyright 2009-2012 Out Of The Blue.
|By PAUL MEARA Interview By Paul Meara and Neil Shumate
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Interview: On The Bus With Machine Gun Kelly
MGK talks album, image, Ohio Hip Hop, Diddy, Tech N9ne
With his buzz growing to new heights and the ink barely dry from signing a major
deal with Bad Boy Records, Cleveland rapper Machine Gun Kelly has had a lot of
growing up to do on his own, but it’s easy to see he’s still just a kid. MGK says he
was glad to be back in Ohio during our talk with him and made the point that
everywhere else just isn’t like the Midwest.
“I don’t sleep till 2 O’clock here, I go skateboard around, get a lot of love that isn’t
given from other places just because here we’re so much more well known,” he
said. “I mean I just get to be a normal kid here and I think that’s the coolest part.”
On the final leg of one of the largest tours in the history of Hip Hop music,
Out Of The Blue caught up with Machine Gun Kelly during his visit to Columbus
to discuss the growing Ohio Hip Hop scene, his relationship with Diddy and how
he is able to stand out in market of niche markets.
Throughout your career what have been the standout moments, both the
high points and low points?
Machine Gun Kelly: I think more recently the high point in my career was winning
the MTV Breakout Artist of 2011 and also winning the Breaking Woodie Award
'cause we weren’t slated to win those, so that was definitely a high point and I
think that was kind of a “we have something really special-type thing” and I think
the low moment was, I don’t know, maybe just bouncing around doing fugazi
shows and then doing some good ones and then that, it’s like doing one show
that’s sold out and then the next show, only a couple people so it was probably
that. And I mean like when you sign with a label, you have a lot of restraints.
You’ve been going everywhere, like you said, and now you’re back in Ohio.
Machine Gun Kelly: Thank God man.
Yeah, this isn’t Cleveland, but…
Machine Gun Kelly: Ohio’s Ohio.
What’s it been like being back in Ohio after going around the states?
Machine Gun Kelly: Yeah, you know I wake up early here, I don’t sleep till 2 O’clock
here, I go skateboard around, get a lot of love that isn’t given from other places just
because here we’re so much more well known. Girls are gorgeous here, the area I
know it all very well. I mean, I just get to be a normal kid here and I think that’s the
How are you holding up since the tour is like 90 plus dates in 99 days?
Machine Gun Kelly: Yeah it’s my first big tour. I was collapsing before I hit the
Midwest. Once we hit the Midwest, the insanity went away a little bit. On a good
week and a half, we had a good streak of vibes so we’re just trying to keep that up
and trying to keep that on the east coast. We have a good presence on the east
coast. I think it was just those areas that aren’t used to seeing us, so we’re just on
someone else’s schedule doing their type of stuff so it went a little insane and
we’re not used to doing that, but yeah.
What’s it like touring with Tech N9ne? He’s been someone who’s been
around Hip Hop for a long time and you two are similar, but also different.
Machine Gun Kelly: I think it’s cool. I think I feed a lot off his calmness because, I
mean I’ll put it like this, the one person I don’t wanna disappoint on this tour is
Tech N9ne himself, but I do hate the rules and the controlling and stuff like that but
the one person I’ll go out of my way to keep that good relationship with and that
kind of like, just because he’s a legend and look up to him 'cause I was a fan of his
before [the tour]. It’s just like you don’t wanna embarrass yourself in front of
someone like that. So it’s more like I go out of my way to keep myself and
reputation clean in his eyes, but everything else I don’t give a fuck about (laughs).
Half Naked and Almost Famous has been out for about two months. What’s
the reaction been like so far?
Machine Gun Kelly: It’s slow man but it’s an EP and it didn’t really go the way we
wanted it to, at least from in-stores 'till like a month after it came out so really our
push is on the road. But it’s cool though 'cause we needed that push to get back
on our grind to what we used to do, which was like hand-to-hand, guerilla style-
type marketing, which is what we’re doing now like, “Hey man, check us out, I’m
right here. All you gotta do is get this $5 CD and I’ll autograph the fuck out of it.”
What’s been good though is that the crowds have been so big afterwards at the
merch booths, we’ll sign up anything custom MGK or anything at the merch table
just to encourage people to be more fan-like instead of being like, “Hey, sign my
white T-shirt.” We won’t really do that so. The CD’s started doing real well when
we started the tour so, the EP is just the EP and I’m really stoked about it and I
love the songs on there, but it was really just to push on people, it’s not like the
people just understood it.
Do you still have that same kind of mentality of groundwork and footwork,
almost like a blue-collar mentality even after getting to where you are now?
Machine Gun Kelly: Of course. That’s why we do hit the merch booth afterwards
and try to show our face as much as possible. I mean, all I really want people to
judge me by is my performance and outside of that I don’t think I owe you shit. As
long as my performances are up to par, which it always is and it really comes
down to the Midwest 'cause you can feed off the crowd more. You know when the
crowd is crazy shit, you can kind of, I guess it makes it more exciting 'cause you
can do dumb shit, but when everyone is doing dumb shit, which usually happens
in the Midwest. It’s a fun time.
Ohio has really been picking up in the last few years with guys like Chip
Tha Ripper, Kid Cidi, Stalley, what do you think about the movement and
what is your part in it?
Machine Gun Kelly: I think we show people a whole different lane and I really think
we show people that you can do it. Cudi didn’t blow up outta here, so when people
saw that we did it and after they saw us on the bottom for so long, they’re like, “Oh
shit, that shit can happen.” So I think that’s one thing we’re gonna focus on after
we go and get these people, like the world, or the United States familiar with us
from these shows and I think once we get some time, we’re gonna go back to the
city and focus on bringing up some of those artists that we know that are super
talented and kind of help them out.
Yeah DJ E-V’s kind of always played that role.
Machine Gun Kelly: Yeah me, E-V, and all my guys will kind of like put our arms
out and hopefully take some people under our wing, that’s what we’re really
looking to do.
When was that moment that you knew you wanted to do Hip Hop forever?
Machine Gun Kelly: When I saw BET for the first time and it was DMX’s “We Right
Here.” When I saw that shit, I was like, “What!” 'Cause I didn’t really know what
rap music was until that point because it wasn’t around me or anything like that.
So, when I started seeing that shit I was like, “Oh fuck.” I think when 50 [Cent] hit,
that was really when it really flooded everyone’s shit. Even like the fucking metal
heads and pop-type people and it just hit everyone. Everyone was like: “Oh shit,
this is cool.”
How’s the Lace Up LP coming along?
Machine Gun Kelly: It’s good, it’s done. They only problems we’re going through
is some sample clearances and that bullshit, so we’re just crossing our fingers
How would you describe this LP as compared to the original or the other
projects you’ve done?
Machine Gun Kelly: It is the original. It’s not actually the original, but it’s the feeling.
Every project that I put out is way different. It’s way different from Lace Up (EP),
Lace Up was way different than Rage Pack and Half Naked and Almost Famous
was a good preview for what the album is gonna be, so I think the album will take
us to the Grammy’s and that’s where I want it to go, one of those type of albums.
What’s your relationship been like with Diddy recently now that this album
is about to drop?
Machine Gun Kelly: Right now, he just mostly keeps me from doing dumb shit, like
when he sees me doing dumb shit, he’ll call in and give you those words that’ll
stick in your head more than others considering.
Do you still consider him a mentor?
Machine Gun Kelly: Oh definitely. He doesn’t call me and dog me for the shit I’m
doing, he’ll call and be like, “Yo, I saw this happened.” I mean he’ll say his what the
fucks, but he’ll give a reason for why it’s what the fuck, so that’s cool but you know
we live such different lifestyles it’s hard for us to be close and buddy buddy, we
just live different lifestyles.
What’s your opinion of image and music?
Machine Gun Kelly: That’s the biggest thing yo. I’m not really that much into music
anymore, I’m more into a combination of the two. Eminem won because he could
spit and not a lot of people could spit at the time when he came out, but everyone
can spit now. I’m sure you guys could fuck around and drop some rhymes and it’s
cool but now it’s about image, but what sucks is like finding your own image.
I know my image is really definitive, you can recognize me anywhere I go. I know
because it happens all the time, we’ve got 40-year olds who are like, “Hey aren’t
you that?” So it’s all about branding your image and I think the image is huge.
If you don’t have like sex appeal or some type of, and I’m not talking about
gimmicky like you’ve got gold teeth and you’re a rapper, it’s like if you have that
definitive. I have style because I have no style, it’s just very plain you look at my
feet and my clothes, I’m really into that so that’s why I always give shit to rappers
like, “What do you think about so and so, or so and so?” And I say, “Yeah he can
rap, but I don’t like to look at him.” I like to look at certain people and be like, "wow
that’s really interesting."
Anything else you'd like to add?
Machine Gun Kelly: August is when the album comes out, so just be on the
lookout for that.
|For The Fans, By The Fans. Look Beyond The Mainstream.
Machine Gun Kelly, 22, was born Richard Colson Baker. Photo Supplied.
MGK signed to Diddy's Bad Boy Records last summer after SXSW.
The fast-rapper expects to drop his full-length label debut this August.
MGK performing at The LC in Columbus early last year.
MGK on The Hostile Takeover Tour 2012 at Newport in Columbus.