As a native of THE LAND (that’s Cleveland for the non-NBA readers out there), I will first say our city has always been divided on one person, Machine Gun Kelly (Colson Baker). If you are from the burbs, you either love him and continually reps our city, or you hate MGK because he’s obnoxious, ruins hotel rooms, or is a “thug” from St. Claire. However, I have always supported Colson through his music and acting pursuits, even if I do think he’s a bit of a sellout now.
Story | Sara Loretta
Image | Casey McPerry
For those who don’t know, Colson Baker found his way to Cleveland in high school after living in Denver for a few years, and has forever since repped the 216 and 440 since moving to “The Mistake on The Lake” as our Pittsburgh rivals like to say. Through his Eminem-like fast flows, he earned the name Machine Gun Kelly, inspired by the notorious gangster from the Prohibition.
Since his popularity sprung following ‘Wild Boy’ featuring Waka Flocka, Machine Gun Kelly has landed himself in the category of punk rock rap due to his chains and Converse persona. More recently, Baker landed a part in Roadies (Showtime), The Land (movie) and Nerve (movie). Not to mention, MGK won a Radio Disney Award for ‘Bad Things’ featuring Camila Cabello, a song about rough sex.
Through his growth, it seems that Baker has forgotten us – the native kids from Wade Oval, Parma, Tremont, Shaker Heights and the rest of the Northeast Ohio area. That is not to say Kelly has written off the city. He still lives downtown and has almost every inch of his body tattooed with Ohio symbols, but his music no longer speaks for us.
His songs are for “the people” now. Baker is no longer a kid making beats with his friends; he’s a millionaire guy who went pop (see my project on Eminem). While I am not undermining his success, Machine Gun Kelly has become more mindful of the content he releases. It’s more carefully produced to speak to kids from Seattle to Miami, not just the midwesterners anymore. Baker has transformed into an artist and has finally blurred the lines between rock and rap on Bloom between tracks like ‘The Gunner’ and ‘Rehab.’
Kells has helped to put Cleveland on the map, “with the heat, no Lebron though” (that’s a whole other argument). Through his mentored fame, is has become a question of if Kelly forgot where he got his start, so much so that MGK took to the LA Leakers last week to settle the debate once and for all.
Do I think Machine Gun Kelly is a sellout? I don’t know. I think I’m more selfish in the sense that I have to share something from my city with the rest of the world (on a larger scale), but at the same point, if success is coming from a city scarred with disappointing sports teams, national headlined kidnappings, and a bi-line in every joke, I think I will stand by and applaud his artistry.
Decide for yourself and go experience an MGK show while he’s on tour with Linkin Park this summer. Tickets on sale now.