As a flourishing white, hardcore hip-hop artist, Richard Colson Baker — better known by his stage name, “Machine Gun Kelly” — has shattered stereotypes, no thanks to “bitch ass motherf**kers” in the suburbs.
“White culture sometimes kills artists, because they’re so quick to embrace you and so quick to shun you,” he told The Daily Caller.
MGK’s debut album, “Lace Up,” secured the No. 4 spot on the Billboard 200 last year, he’s neared 700,000 followers on Twitter, and he admits the majority of his fans are white. But race doesn’t tell the whole story of his current demographic.
“I got more street cred than a lot of artists I work with who are black, just [be]cause that’s where I come from, that’s where we’re still at,” he said.
Young Trajik, a hip-hop artist who like MGK heralds from Ohio, explained how the now-nationally known Clevelander has inspired people with his “realness.”
Trajik alluded to the fact that MGK is not ashamed to talk about the financial struggles he’s suffered.
“That’s real stuff that people from my hood can relate to,” he said. “Coming from not having a dollar in your pocket and wondering where your next meal is going to come from to staying in five-star hotels, because your ambition and drive pushed you to get to that point.”
MGK has respect in the streets. In the suburbs, however, MGK finds himself between a rock and a hard place. According to him, he’s either too street or — because he’s “staying in five-star hotels” now — not street enough.
“I’m enjoying not being broke, you dumb f**k, something you would never know about,” said MGK to those who have said he has sold out over something as simple as wearing a piece of jewelry. “You didn’t have to go through what I went through so why the f**k are you mad? You come live my life.”
MGK told Jenny Boom Boom of Hot 97.3 that when he was nine years old, his mother cheated on his father, and they separated. His father, who went into depression, and MGK were forced to live in his aunt’s basement and sleep in the same bed until he was in seventh grade. He clashed with his father, comparing him to Adolf Hitler.
The aspiring hip-hop artist dropped out of high school to pursue music, leaving bullies behind.
“In fourth grade, I moved to a predominantly black school. I got my ass whupped,” he said, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
In his song “The Return,” MGK rapped about being bullied as a child, asking, “People wanna be my friend? But where the f**k were y’all when I was 10, 11 and 12 getting bullied and beat up in the gym?”
“Hip hop is for people who couldn’t get the basketball or football scholarships in high school and didn’t go to college,” MGK told TheDC. “Now, you got motherf**kers in college rapping. [What] the f**k are you rapping for? You got kids with both parents … when you got privileged kids rapping, it’s just inappropriate for what the culture originally was.”
He said he believes hip hop has shifted from street to privileged rap, because “the world is just a giant vagina now.”
MGK said that while his crew has gained momentum in the mainstream, much of the world is still terrified of their hardcore approach to music. His passion, however — along with a rapid-fire flow — separated him from the pack to begin with.
“He’s the best live performer I’ve ever seen,” said Ky’Ly’ntae, an Ohio hip-hop artist who’s toured with MGK as well as Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller. MGK’s intensity and relatable testimony have been an inspiration to his fans, resulting in a cult-like following.
Ky’Ly’ntae also echoed Young Trajik’s narrative of the immense respect MGK has harvested in Cleveland. The artist’s city has his back, his fans share his passion, but his audience’s cultural differences — and how he’s accepted by it — are still ironic to him.
“I think it’s funny that I have to find myself trying to fit in with my own culture more than with another culture,” he said. “I’m not black.”
MGK then asked why he garners adoration, for example, by walking through the hood in Philadelphia, only to encounter a mixed bag in a college town.
“Half the people will be so excited that I’m there, and half the other dudes will be f–king mad cause’ their bitch is looking at me. F**k you,” he told the latter crowd. “What the f**k did you have to do in your life? I don’t look at you mad. … It’s just funny I have to fight to fit in with my own people, it doesn’t make sense.”