MGK a.k.a. Machine Gun Kelly represents a new generation of DIY rappers—those who no longer wait for success to come to them; which is why MGK has taken command of his career by self-releasing his latest free album, Black Flag, exclusively through Live Mixtapes. It is his eighth mixtape overall and features collaborations with Pusha T, Meek Mill, French Montana and Wiz Khalifa.
MGK received a great deal of attention with last year’s full-length debut album, Lace Up, (19XX/Bad Boy/Interscope Records). Although well-received critically and by MGK loyalists, sales for the album fell below expectations domestically. No worries! MGK [signed to an admin deal through Kobalt Music Group] continues to pack in venues around the globe, and maintain respect from his peers. Everyone in the rap music world is lining up to work with him.
“One thing I learned is that you can’t depend on anyone else,” says MGK. “No one can care more about your project than you do. I’ve learned before about putting things in the hands of people that may not share your passion. With Black Flag, the passion is there for me and my team, so we’re going to keep this one here for ourselves and make it happen.”
The single, “Peso” featuring Meek Mill and Pusha T, is perhaps the album’s most popular track. “I was on the Maybach Music Group tour with Rick Ross, Wale and [longtime friend] Meek Mill when I came up with that song. I knew I wanted Mill on the track. I hadn’t had a chant-like record since ‘Wild Boys’ and the word ‘Peso’ [along with the Aloe Blacc “I Need a Dollar sample] just rung. I ran over to Meek’s bus and asked him what he thought. He started free-styling to it. A couple of months later we got in the studio to record it. Then Pusha T put his verse on it which was like the cherry on top.”
For inspiration on Black Flag, MGK says he didn’t necessarily look toward other rappers or bands to influence him. “Honestly, for the first time, I was inspired by the scenery of the city of Cleveland where I live. I got to look at the scenery of the streets, the clouds, the happiness, the depression…just taking in the [vibes] of Midwestern blue collar people.
The comforts of home will soon be put on the backburner, though. MGK recently hosted the E.S.T Fest in Cleveland and is gearing up for a September tour of Australia to promote Black Flag; with more dates scheduled around the U.S. in the fall. www.machinegunkelly.com