Machine Gun Kelly, Wild Boy, Rock HallOUween
By Zak Kolesar | Photo by MGKLaceUp.com
If there is one thing that you should know about Cleveland rapper Machine Gun Kelly, it’s that he does it his way in every walk of life. Whether he’s putting together features for his debut studio album, which released on October 9 and peaked at No. 4 in the US on the Billboard 200, or putting on a show for his passionate fan base, MGK makes sure that his influence is made known.
The 22-year old has one of the strongest followings in the hip-hop industry today and is something that fuels MGK whenever he gets out on a stage and sees fans throw up their right thumb and index finger into an “L.” The “L” stands for Lace Up, and also happens to be the title of his first album under the Bad Boy and Interscope labels. The EST crew travels from various places on the map to find solace through the young rapper’s words and inspiring stories.
“Machine Gun Kelly is a group of kids that come from a generation that aren’t really spoken for,” MGK says. “You know my job is to speak with those kids and teach them a way of living that we’re not taught (in schools).”
When he takes the stage as the headliner for the first-ever HallOUween concert at Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium, it is evident through the chants of “MGK” that are echoing throughout the venue all night long. Once MGK finally takes the stage, the whole place rings with energy that can only be matched by few artists of the rap genre today. The chaos that erupts later on in his set is far off, but very predictable as his animated fans already are trying to make their way up onto the stage once the beat for “Cleveland,” one of his earlier successes, drops.
On this track MGK explains the significance that the Midwest city has had on him, as he states, “Blood sweat and tears I cried right here. Tatted my city and showed pride right here.”
“Now I go back to Cleveland and feel free,” MGK says reflecting on the time he spent in Los Angeles working on Lace Up. “I don’t know, now I want to go back to Cleveland and just stay there for a while.”
He then takes a break from performing to address the audience with a more solemn tone, ripping on the silver spoon listeners of the music world and reflecting on his time as a high school student. This is a perfect introduction to his song “Edge of Destruction,” in which he preaches that the track is “for the kid who never had a father figure to depend on, spending every school day being sent home.”
“Even being a loser I was loud and obnoxious (in school) and sh*t, so it only fit that someone put a microphone in front of my mouth and just made me sing in front of 200,000 people,” MGK says.
After MGK warms up to the audience, things start to get out of control. This has been the staple for his shows once he gained notice as a hip-hop artist. Girls from the audience surround him on stage as he spits a freestyle verse, fans carry him as he crowd surfs to the back of the MemAud and he brings a female fan onto the stage to serenade her for the track “Her Song.”
Still, the rambunctious artist thinks that the hip-hop community doesn’t respect what he has done to the genre in the past year alone. His shows have caused for arrests and early cancellations of his performances, but he thinks that is what makes him unique and should garner more attention from the industry.
“There’s thousands of kids who have “Lace Up” tattooed to their body, have MGK clothes on their f*cking body and it goes underappreciated in the hip-hop critic community,” MGK says. “Hip-hop critics are just the epitome of a sellout man.”
Security guards and audience members alike could feel that something was going to go awry all night long, but after playing hits such as “Warning Shot” off of his recently debuted album, MGK once again lectures the audience. He tells them that the concert is being shut down early, but this was ironically just forewarning of what was to come in the finale of the HallOUween concert.
The boisterous anthem of the Cleveland rapper, “Wild Boy,” is the last song on the bill for the night, as MGK calls up the EST family to the stage to help him depict a rager setting. All night the concert guards in attendance try to hold back adrenaline-filled fans, but there is not stopping them for the final song. Police break up the concert early, threatening to arrest MGK for his on-stage antics.
Rushing outside to try and see what will come of the situation at hand, “Lace Up” devotees again blow past authority figures trying to touch their musical idol. The riot-type atmosphere is taken care of in a short matter of time, and MGK disappears into the night.
“I took the route less traveled and it’s turned out great for me,” MGK says.