Ten years ago, Colson Baker was a to-be single father, working at Chipotle to afford rent. Flash forward to present day, the 27-year-old, who goes by the stage name of Machine Gun Kelly, has established himself as a household name in the rap community and recently released his third album, Bloom, in May. Challenging the ideals of conventional rap, Bloom serves as a testament to Kelly’s emerging status as a breakthrough artist.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Machine Gun Kelly about his journey to Bloom.
How did you begin rapping?
I think it was more so of a bullying factor and kind of looking for a way to beat somebody when I almost couldn’t do it in the physical. I kind of found an outlet that allows me to be giant.
Despite facing obstacles, how were you able to rise to success?
I don’t know if you ever really do rise to success, rise above obstacles. I think that after one, there’s always another one. I think it’s just putting up with it. I’m able to look past it. I’m such a dreamer that my fantasies cover the realities. And the reality is that you’re always going to have problems, no matter which ones you solve, there’s another one that’s going to come right after it. Even if I have money now, does money bring you happiness? Maybe I was happy when I was broke.
What new obstacles have been introduced from being famous?
A huge thing for me for a long time was that I felt like my face was more famous than my music. I never wanted to be a celebrity in the first place. I always wanted to be an artist and have my art be in the forefront. It took me a long time for that to be the case. Now, people come up and they have so much respect for my music and some of the videos we’ve done and movies and television shows and certain performances. They’ve affected their lives or changed culture in their eyes. That right there is when I’m the happiest, when I hear how I’ve affected somebody.
Is there a certain quality you seek to achieve in your music and videos?
At this point, I don’t want to do anything that’s not gonna make somebody feel. I don’t wanna do anything mediocre. I don’t wanna that doesn’t spark conversation or change. It’s not like I put my face on the cover of the album either. If that ever goes away, I could give two fucks about the celebrity part. I just want the art to stay.
People come up and they have so much respect for my music and some of the videos we’ve done and movies and television shows and certain performances. They’ve affected their lives or changed culture in their eyes. That right there is when I’m the happiest, when I hear how I’ve affected somebody.
What artists would you be interested in collaborating with in the future?
I just wanna jam with some bands now, live. I’ve completed a lot of my collaborations. I’m ready to just start doing tours with bands now. Me and Linkin Park and going to be doing one this summer that’s gonna be pretty game changing.
Do you see yourself pursuing acting further?
I actually just finished up a movie that comes out in 2018. It’s called Captive State. It’s gonna be a pretty big sci-fi movie.
What rappers have influenced you?
When I was growing up, I really liked people coming out of the Midwest. I loved Eminem. I was also heavily into Southern culture. It was so confused with Cleveland culture, just because of the dope game. Back in the day, a lot big dope deals were going on between Atlanta and Cleveland. The Southern culture was all around me. I was loving Pimp C, Three 6 Mafia, all that stuff. DMX, Eminem, Tupac, those were probably my top three growing up.
What key traits are necessary in pursuing music as a career?
If you walk in the room and I don’t feel your presence and I don’t desire to look at you, because your aura isn’t that great, then you don’t need to be doing this. Charisma and authenticity and being felt are what make the difference between somebody who’s great and somebody who’s good at their job.
Story by Sarah Kearns
Photos by Rowan Daly
Originally published in Volume II, Issue No. 003 – Summer 2017.Like this