After pivoting to pop punk and earning his first two No. 1 albums, Machine Gun Kelly has revealed his grand plans to return to rap. While appearing on Audacy Check In with Kevan Kenney, MGK explained why, as “a music archaeologist,” he wants to revisit the sound that fueled the first decade of his career.
“I’m going to make a rap album for myself,” MGK said. “For no other reason, no point to prove, no chip on my shoulder. If I keep doing things to prove things to people, I’m going to one, drive myself crazy and two, not make a great product.”
MGK added that he wanted to step away from the pop punk sound of 2020’s Tickets to My Downfall and this year’s Mainstream Sellout so fans will get a chance to “miss it,” explaining, “I made Tickets and Mainstream Sellout because I wanted to make them. I need to now also make people miss that sound.”
He continued by describing himself as a “music archaeologist,” saying, “I’m going to do this tour and I’m gonna step into where I left Hotel Diablo and expand on my storytelling as a rapper and find a new innovative sound for the hip-hop Machine Gun Kelly. That’s where my excitement is and where me as a music archaeologist wants to explore.”
Before taking a commercially successful detour in the world of pop punk, MGK came up as a rapper whose 2010 mixtape Lace Up caught the attention of legacy hip-hop publication XXL magazine and led to his signing with Puff Daddy’s Bad Boy Records.
The successive release of each of MGK’s first four albums — 2012’s Lace Up, 2015’s General Admission, 2017’s Bloom, and 2019’s Hotel Diablo — saw him move into a more pop and rock direction. The latter album, which dropped after a high profile feud with Eminem, was more of a rap rock project, taking cues from Lil Wayne’s Rebirth and the music of Linkin Park.
To hear MGK tell it, this progression was only natural. “I love Blink, I was always such a fan of the band and kind of came into my own balance between the hip-hop that I grew up loving and that I was making,” he said. “When I decided to sonically incorporate [rock] into my album sounds, I tried on my third album called Bloom. I was singing and playing guitar on, and it was almost there.”
His Hotel Diablo single “I Think I’m OKAY” with Travis Barker and Yungblud was a light bulb moment. “When that happened and I listened to it I was like, ‘Aw this is what I’ve been trying to do for years,'” MGK remembered.
Listen to MGK’s full Audacy Check In interview below.
So while the decision to pivot back to rap might disappoint Mick Jagger, who named MGK and Yungblud the future of rock music, it seems likely MGK won’t actually be putting his guitar down anytime soon. While his fans await which direction he actually goes next, they can catch him on his “Mainstream Sellout Tour” alongside Avril Lavigne later this year. Tickets are available now via Ticketmaster.