Interview: Machine Gun Kelly
We met Bad Boy signee Machine Gun Kelly in London as he came to perform the last few shows from his first European tour. The Cleveland native had breakthrough beginnings as the first white rapper to ever win at the legendary Harlem Apollo theater, maintaining his hot-streak by landing a place in XXL’s coveted 2012 Freshman class. The self-proclaimed 'Wild Boy' had a chat with The Wrap Up's Kristian Galea about his debut album 'Lace Up' and lessons learned from P. Diddy…
The Wrap Up: Welcome to London! Is it your first time?
Machine Gun Kelly: Yeah, it is! I'm on my first European tour and this is the last date; so the big finale, for me.
TWU: Your debut album ‘Lace Up’ is set to hit stores October 9; what can we expect?
Machine Gun Kelly: I think you guys should just expect the same thing from my mixtapes - just me. We didn't switch up the format at all… like, usually rappers on the mixtape circuit lose their fans once their album is out, but my album is the same format as my mixtapes - the same recording process. We did it all in the basement, the same basement we recorded everything else in; we ignored the major label budget and did it the same way.
TWU: You've collaborated with some big names on the album. Which track are you most excited for the fans to hear?
Machine Gun Kelly: Huge people, legendary! We did me, Tech N9ne and Twista all on one song. So that is a lot of fast rap. Me and DMX got a really dark song called 'Demons', me and Bun B, Lil Jon... Man, there is a lot. The track I'm most excited about is the Lil Jon one called 'Lace Up' - performance wise it's an anthem, it makes you want to just... Punch a grandma.
TWU: What can you tell us about the Lace Up movement in general?
Machine Gun Kelly: It gives people that never really belonged to anything something to be a part of. I wouldn't say it's like a club, because that's kind of corny, but it's like a biker gang almost. It gives the outcasts a voice.
TWU: It was recently announced that you're the supporting act for the MMG tour, are you excited?
Machine Gun Kelly: I'm super stoked! Just because it's so different from what I've done in the past. After this, unless you throw me on like a Taylor Swift tour, I've pretty much covered every type of genre!
TWU: So who are you listening to at the moment?
Machine Gun Kelly: We fell asleep last night listening to Radiohead and Bon Iver. Rap wise, I'm listening to the 'Kush and Orange Juice' mixtape by Wiz [Khalifa].
TWU: Which artists inspired you to start rapping?
Machine Gun Kelly: Probably DMX and Ludacris, with a little bit of Kanye in there too.
TWU: You are signed to Bad Boy Records. What are the three most important things you have learnt from Diddy?
Machine Gun Kelly: ‘Don't bite the hand that feeds you’, ‘Shut the f**k up’ which I haven't really learned yet... and 'I love it when you call me big poppa'.
TWU: How is it working alongside the Bad Boy family and the likes of French Montana and Cassie?
Machine Gun Kelly: Well me and French are the only two people that have got in the studio together. French is my man; he is a wild boy for sure.
TWU: You've been non-stop touring this year. What would you say are the positives and negatives of touring?
Machine Gun Kelly: Positives would be, with the exception of here, the girls... even though in London we could have some hope! You also get to hear crazy fan stories; we always call a couple of hardcore fans on the bus afterwards to hear their thoughts on the movement. One of the negatives is that we don't get to shower because we don't have hotel rooms - we sleep on the bus - and the terrible food! Also when you get sick you can't cancel anything.
TWU: You've just recently come off of the 'Warped Tour', which Eminem previously headlined. How was that experience?
Machine Gun Kelly: The Warped Tour was where I had the most fun; you get to wake up and watch your favourite bands perform. It's unplanned, so it's just fun and the people are so different; it's like a free world. Kids are running round throwing paint on people, girls walking round with 'free kisses' on their breasts and some are just completely naked. The silent discos are funny as hell as well.
TWU: Now let’s talk about your loyal fans; you interact with a lot of them via twitter. Is that something you feel all artists should do?
Machine Gun Kelly: Yeah, but I don't feel you should be obligated to do it through social-networking, because then fans can become dependent on you. All we owe fans is good music and all they owe us is to appreciate the good music. I couldn’t care less if my favourite artist follows me.
TWU: What is the craziest fan experience you've witnessed?
Machine Gun Kelly: Probably when grown ass men break down and start crying. Something which seems to be a common theme with us is heroin addicts and people who are recovering [from addictions] see something special in the movement.
TWU: Do you feel that the racial stereotypes in rap are beginning to be forgotten?
Machine Gun Kelly: I don't think it has been forgotten, if anything I think it's re-birthed. I think it re-birthed with me! Mac Miller is the one who broke the stereotype, but that was because he took the friendly lane. I took the gritty lane so people sparked it back up with me. After this album I think the 'hump' will be broken; I mean I opened for the BET Awards. There are so many colour barriers that I've broken, but people still hold onto that stigma. I can't do much but just keep on rapping.
TWU: Finally, what else would you like to accomplish by the end of 2012?
Machine Gun Kelly: I just wish I was able to do the VMA's this year! I'd love to collaborate on a track, being featured on someone’s single would be crazy. You just have to get the right single, like how Wale got on Wocka and Roscoe's 'No Hands' - that was the perfect look for Wale - hopefully I can snag one of those!
Keep up to date with MGK on Twitter.
Words: Kristian Galea (@KrisSoAppalled)