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Is Machine Gun Kelly a Fearless Artist – or the Next Kid Rock?

Last Updated October 22, 2020 11:24 PM
Aaron Weaver
Last Updated October 22, 2020 11:24 PM
  • Machine Gun Kelly just released the new single “forget me too,” featuring Halsey.
  • Like all the tracks from his latest album, it’s anything but hip-hop.
  • With punk-legend Travis Barker helping him out, it’s clear MGK is trying to make a full genre pivot. But will he have any more lasting interest than people like Vanilla Ice or Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst?

Machine Gun Kelly is a punk now.

He’s put away his baggy pants and urban flair and replaced it with tight jeans and electric guitars. His latest music video, “forget me too,” featuring Halsey, brings this point home fully. Check out the video below:

We’ve seen drastic identity shifts before, but it hasn’t always worked out. Will the artist born as Colson Baker be any different when all is said and done?

Machine Gun Kelly Has Forgotten Himself, Too

It seems like only yesterday that Machine Gun Kelly was vaulting into the public zeitgeist as the upstart rapper who tried to take on Eminem. He was signed to Bad Boy Records by Diddy himself.

Diddy took to Instagram in 2019 to explain why he signed MGK :

When I first signed @machinegunkelly I knew he was going to be a star. I didn’t know how exactly we’d get there but I knew it would happen.

Well, his journey was certainly hard to predict. After building his career as a passable rapper, he’s fully transformed himself as a throwback ’90s punk-rocker. It’s reminiscent of a college kid who completely shifts his identity to fit in with his new peers. Check out the former rapper’s new punk look:

machine gun kelly
MGK went from a ‘hard rapper’ to looking like the hardest member of a boy band. | Source: Machine Gun Kelly/YouTube

While he’s proving to be a talented, genre-fluid artist, rappers turned rockers, historically, have not aged well.

Vanilla Ice, Kid Rock, Fred Durst, Oh My!

Some artists have seamlessly and successfully shifted genres. Bob Dylan made a country album. Michael Bolton was a hard-rocker before he became the corniest crooner of the 90s. Skrillex was in a screamo band before he became the dubstep king.

But the rap-rock combination has not exactly wowed the masses in the past. Perhaps one of the closest parallels to Machine Gun Kelly is the much-maligned Kid Rock. Sure, Kid Rock hasn’t done himself any favors by supporting Donald Trump, but he wasn’t exactly praised before he aired his political beliefs.

Kid Rock started off as a rapper who also made rock songs. After this combination launched him into stardom, it didn’t take long for the novelty of his act to wear off. Soon, he fully pivoted into a career as a country singer.

Check out his ‘raps’ below:

Much like MGK, he’s had some success in his new genre, but, for most of the world, he’s become the epitome of a Z-list celebrity. Some people have even criticized him for riding black culture to success before abandoning it:

Rock married the ‘Barbie’ of his time, Pamela Anderson. Machine Gun Kelly is following closely in his footsteps by dating Megan Fox. While it isn’t exactly fair, many people view her as the all-looks, no-brains sex symbol of our time.

In another depressing comparison, MGK never quite shot to stardom like Vanilla Ice, but the obvious white rapper similarities hold true. Much like MGK, Vanilla Ice made a drastic departure from the rap game to which he owed all of his success. Granted, it was already after his star had faded, but Vanilla Ice lept headfirst into heavy metal in the late ’90s.  You don’t need me to tell you it didn’t work out.

Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst is another example of an artist who tried to straddle the line between rock and rap and ended up getting ditched by both fanbases.

How Machine Gun Kelly Has a Chance

People seem to like MGK’s new musical journey. But then again, people liked Kid Rock, Vanilla Ice, and Fred Durst. That’s why they were famous. But will MGK’s legacy be as a corny, flip-flopping gimmick or as a courageous, defiant artist?

History is certainly not in his favor, but if there were ever a time to shift your identity, it’s now. With gender identities becoming more fluid by the day and the youth rejecting all attempts to be boxed in, MGK may have found his most accepting possible audience.

Certain corners of hip-hop are already melting into some sort of strange pop-rock-rap form (see Post Malone).

While Machine Gun Kelly fans may think his music is anything but a joke, don’t be surprised if he ends up being remembered as a punchline.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.