Machine Gun Kelly (musician)

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Machine Gun Kelly
Baker at the 2019 All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game at Progressive Field in Cleveland
Background information
Birth nameRichard Colson Baker
Born (1990-04-22) April 22, 1990 (age 30)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
OriginCleveland, Ohio, U.S.
  • Singer
  • rapper
  • songwriter
  • actor
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Years active2006–present[2]
Associated acts

Richard Colson Baker (born April 22, 1990), known professionally as Machine Gun Kelly (MGK), is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, and actor from Cleveland, Ohio. Baker's debut album, Lace Up, was released in 2012, and was followed up with four subsequent studio releases. As an actor, Baker made his film debut in the 2014 romantic drama Beyond the Lights. He has also appeared in several other films and had a recurring role on the Showtime series Roadies in 2016.

He embarked on a musical career as a teenager, releasing a mixtape in 2006. He went on to release four more mixtapes. Baker then secured a recording contract with Bad Boy and Interscope Records in 2011. His major label debut album, Lace Up, was released in October 2012 to positive response from critics. The record contained the singles "Wild Boy", "Invincible", "Stereo", and "Hold On (Shut Up)", and debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200 chart; it was later confirmed to have sold more than 178,000 copies.

In early 2015, he released the singles "Till I Die" and "A Little More" for his second studio album, General Admission, which released in October 2015, and debuted at number four in the US. The album incorporated darker tones and storytelling, with elements of rap rock and R&B. His third studio album, Bloom, was released on May 12, 2017, preceded by "Bad Things" with Camila Cabello, peaking at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming his highest-charting single. His fourth studio album, Hotel Diablo, was released July 5, 2019 and was supported by three singles: "Hollywood Whore", "El Diablo", and "I Think I'm Okay" (featuring Travis Barker and Yungblud). His fifth studio album, Tickets to My Downfall was released on September 25, 2020, marking a departure from rap in favor of a pop punk genre, with production entirely helmed by Barker.

Life and career

1990–2009: Early life and career beginnings

Richard Colson Baker was born on April 22, 1990, in Houston to missionary parents.[3] Baker and his family moved all around the world and took up residence abroad from Egypt to Germany, as well as throughout the United States, in Chicago, Denver, and Cleveland.[4] He settled in Denver, along with his father, after his mother had left home, and the pair moved in with Baker's aunt. Following his father suffering from depression and unemployment, Baker endured bullying from other children in the neighborhood.[5] He started listening to rap in the sixth grade, when he attended Hamilton Middle School, a school with an ethnically diverse student body in Denver, Colorado.[6] The first three rappers that got him into the genre of hip hop as a child were Ludacris, Eminem and DMX, with Baker gaining interest in the genre after listening to DMX's "We Right Here" from the album The Great Depression (2001).[7]

Following his father's departure, Baker stopped attending school and began to make a name for himself by calling out elder classmates. In 2005, his father returned to take them both to Kuwait before the pair were forced back stateside to Cleveland, where Baker attended Shaker Heights High School.[6] While attending Shaker Heights High, he convinced a local t-shirt shop owner to become his manager, as the shop owner would double as an MC manager. Given the stage name "Machine Gun Kelly" by his fans due to his rapid-fire delivery, he released the mixtape Stamp of Approval (2006). The release of the mixtape allowed for his reputation and profile to grow, which allowed Baker to begin performing at local Cleveland venues.[citation needed]

In March 2009, while he was on the verge of getting evicted, Baker traveled to Harlem's Apollo Theater, where he had consecutive victories, making him the first ever rapper to win at the Apollo Theater.[4] He recorded music in his home studio which he refers to as the "Rage Cage",[6] and started to gain exposure when he was featured on MTV2's Sucker Free Freestyle, where he freestyled numerous verses from his "Chip off the Block" single. In February 2010, he released his second mixtape 100 Words and Running, where he derived his catchphrase, "Lace Up", which started as a mixtape interlude, before making it a prominent reference in his music. Despite his rising popularity, Baker found himself working at Chipotle to afford rent, as well as being kicked out by his father after graduating high school. Baker soon also became a father.[4]

2009–2012: Record deal and Lace Up

MGK's music video "Alice in Wonderland", 2010

In May 2010, he made his national debut with the single "Alice in Wonderland", which was released on iTunes and accompanied a music video along with the song. It was released via Block Starz Music.[8][9][10] The single earned Baker the "Best Midwest Artist" at the 2010 Underground Music Awards and his "Alice in Wonderland" clip won Best Music Video at the 2010 Ohio Hip-Hop Awards.[4] He released his second mixtape in November 2010 titled Lace Up which featured the hometown anthem "Cleveland", which was then played at Cleveland Cavaliers home games and went on rotation on Z107.9 in Cleveland. The mixtape was recorded in three months in 2010 during a creative burst.[6] Following the release of the mixtape, he was featured in the magazine XXL in 2011.[11] He then appeared on the Juicy J track "Inhale", which also featured Steve-O from the television series Jackass, in the music video.[4]

In March 2011, Baker participated in his first SXSW show in Austin, Texas, and at the show, he was approached by Sean Combs, who had offered Baker a recording contract with Bad Boy Records, which is associated with and has its content distributed by Interscope.[12] Prior to the contract, he was featured on the XV song "Finally Home".[13] After signing for Bad Boy, Baker released the music video for the song "Wild Boy", which featured Waka Flocka Flame and was produced by GB Hitz. The duo appeared on BET's 106 & Park to promote the single. In mid-2011, Baker signed a deal with Young and Reckless Clothing. His first EP Half Naked & Almost Famous released on March 20, 2012, and debuted at 46 on the Billboard 200 with 8,500 copies sold in its first week.[citation needed] As of August 2012, it sold 36,500 copies.[citation needed]

Baker announced that his debut album would be titled Lace Up, and would have an intended release on October 9, 2012. "Wild Boy" served as the lead single for the album and the song peaked on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number 98. It was soon certified gold by the RIAA.[14][15] The song "Invincible" was released on iTunes on December 16, 2011, featuring co-writer and singer Ester Dean as the second single of the album.[16] The song is featured in a commercial for the HTC ReZound[17] as well as the official theme song of WrestleMania XXVIII. WWE also used the song to highlight John Cena in his match with at the event, with Baker also performing at WrestleMania prior to the main event. "Invincible" is also currently the theme for Thursday Night Football on the NFL network. WWE also used the song "All We Have" to again highlight Cena on his rematch with The Rock at next year's event. On December 14, 2011, Baker was named the Hottest Breakthrough MC of 2011 by MTV.[18] On March 18, 2012, Baker won the MTVu Breaking Woodie award[19] before being featured on the cover of XXL as part of their annual "Top 10 Freshmen list" along with fellow rappers Macklemore, French Montana, Hopsin, Danny Brown, Iggy Azalea, Roscoe Dash, Future, Don Trip and Kid Ink.[20] On August 13, 2012, Baker self-released a mixtape titled EST 4 Life, which contained both old and recently recorded material.[21]

Lace Up was released on October 9, 2012. The album featured guest appearances from Bun B, Cassie, DMX, Ester Dean, Lil Jon, Tech N9ne, Twista, Waka Flocka Flame, Young Jeezy and Dub-O. The album debuted at number 4 on the US Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 57,000 copies.[22] It slid down to #22 in its second week, giving it a total of 65,000 copies sold.[23] As of September 2015, the album has sold 263,000 copies.[24]

2012–2013: Black Flag

In early 2012, Baker announced that he would be releasing a new mixtape. Pusha T and Meek Mill were the first artists to be featured on the mixtape, both appearing on the track "Pe$o". Baker also announced that Wiz Khalifa will be featured on the mixtape.[25] On February 18, 2013, Baker announced the name of the mixtape as Black Flag and revealed the cover. He also released a music video for "Champions" which features Diddy and samples The Diplomats song "We are the Champions", as the music video release served as a promotional video for Black Flag.[26] On June 26, Baker released Black Flag without prior announcement.[27] The mixtape also featured guest appearances from French Montana, Kellin Quinn, Dub-O, Sean McGee and Tezo.[28] On June 4, 2013, Baker posted a picture of a letter on his social media accounts which read:

This project is dedicated to love, because for my entire life it has been taken from me. Granted, when it was given, I pushed it right back. I couldn't handle it. This was until I experienced the loss of love for what I love doing most: music. That was the one thing worth fighting for, even more-so then[sic] the love of my father. I've found that love again. And I plan on never surrendering it. Find what you love and fight!! Black Flag.[29]

2014–2016: General Admission

MGK performing in Pittsburgh in March 2013

Following the release of Black Flag, rumors surfaced that Baker had begun working on his second studio album. In January 2014, he confirmed that he was in the early stages of working on the album, with 2015 being the scheduled year of release.[30] On January 5, 2015, Baker released the song "Till I Die", which was accompanied with a music video on his VEVO account. Months later, a remix of "Till I Die" with hometown fellow hip-hop group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony was confirmed and released on June 5, 2015. The song aired via WorldStarHipHop and featured French Montana, Yo Gotti and Ray Cash. On May 18, 2015, the music video for another song titled "A Little More" was released, with the single featuring vocals from Victoria Monet. Baker soon had an interview with MTV, describing the reason as to why he wrote "A Little More". Stating in the interview: "People always came up to me after the first album and a lot of my friends back home said 'we need something for the streets' and then I did Till I Die. Months later, when I look back at the video [for Till I Die] I [was] like 'Okay, he's in jail, he's shot, he's dead, he snitched' and just to the point where it's sad and I wrote the song to describe how I see the world as a much mature person." He also updated the status on his second studio album, noting that the album is finished, and stating that the album would contain "more lyricism and [would be more] stylistically [influenced by] hip-hop but musically, sonically [would contain] more live instrumentation."[31]

Following Baker's previous affiliation with the company, he made a return to WWE Raw on the June 15, 2015, episode of the show. The show was hosted in Baker's home town of Cleveland and Baker appeared as a guest on the show, performing "Till I Die" and "A Little More". As he finished performing, he was attacked and power-bombed through the stage by WWE wrestler Kevin Owens in a storyline. The attack was due to Baker's previous connection with Owens' rival, John Cena. Baker soon announced a national tour to begin in the summer of 2015, touring throughout the United States from early July to the beginning of September, with 31 planned dates throughout the course of the two months.

On June 25, Baker released the title of his second album as General Admission, due to be released in late September 2015.[32] On July 23, 2015, Baker released Fuck It, a 10-track mixtape containing songs that didn't make the final track list of General Admission. The mixtape was reportedly released by Baker independently following Bad Boy consistently delaying the release of General Admission. On September 10, 2015, Baker announced the release date and the album art of General Admission, stating that the album would be released on October 16 of that year. General Admission released on the described date, and debuted at number 4 on the Billboard 200, powered by first week sales 56,000 album-equivalent units; it has sold 49,000 copies in its first week, with the remainder of its unit total reflecting the album's streaming activity and track sales. The album also debuted at number one on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.

2016–2018: Bloom and Binge

Baker performing at RiP in 2019

In February, Baker appeared at Fastlane, which was hosted at the Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland. Baker released "Bad Things" in late 2016,[33] a joint single with Camila Cabello, which has reached a peak of number four on the US Billboard Hot 100.[34]

Baker was going to be the opening act on the North American leg of Linkin Park's One More Light Tour before the tour was cancelled due to Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington's suicide.[35] Baker would subsequently pay tribute to Bennington by releasing an acoustic cover of the Linkin Park song "Numb".[36]

On September 3, 2018, Baker released the song "Rap Devil". The track was a response to Eminem's diss track "Not Alike" off of his album Kamikaze. Playing on Eminem's own "Rap God" single, the track accuses Eminem of trying to sideline Baker's career after a comment Baker made in 2012 about Eminem's teenage daughter, Hailie. Baker publicly stated on his Twitter account that on the response track he was "standing up for not just myself, but my generation. [I'm] doing the same shit you did back in your day." [37] "Rap Devil" topped the iTunes Chart on September 10, 2018.[38] On September 14, 2018, Eminem responded to "Rap Devil" with his own diss track, "Killshot".[39]

On September 21, 2018, Baker released the EP Binge, which had first week sales of 21,519 units and debuted at 24 on the Billboard 200.[40][41]

2019–present: Hotel Diablo and Tickets to My Downfall

In April 2019, Billboard reported that Baker's upcoming album would be titled Hotel Diablo. The first single, "Hollywood Whore", was released on May 17, 2019. The second single, "El Diablo", was released on May 31, 2019. On June 7, 2019, Baker released the third single, "I Think I'm Okay", with Yungblud and Travis Barker. Hotel Diablo was released on July 5, 2019.[42]

On July 9, 2019, he released the official music video for "Candy" featuring Trippie Redd.[43]

He released the final single, "Glass House" featuring Naomi Wild on the same day.[44] The album debuted at number 5 on the Billboard 200 chart, becoming his fourth top ten album.[45]

In December 2019, Baker began teasing an upcoming project with Travis Barker producing, it was then later revealed that the album would be pop punk. On January 14, 2020, Baker announced the title of the project as Tickets to My Downfall, which was released on September 25, 2020.[46] Three singles were released prior to the album's release - "Bloody Valentine", "Concert for Aliens", and "My Ex's Best Friend".[47]

Also in August 2020, Baker opened his own coffee house called 27 Club Coffee in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.

On November 22, 2020 after his performance at the AMAs, Baker announced his album Tickets To My Downfall was going to be turned into a "first if it’s kind musical film experience" titled Downfalls High which will air in January 2021. Baker and Travis Barker are signed on to narrate the movie[48]

Acting career

Baker made his film debut in Beyond the Lights (2014), a romantic drama in which he played a "shallow, self-important" rapper named Kid Culprit.[49] In 2016, he featured in four more films of various genres, including The Land, a Cleveland-set drama produced by fellow rapper Nas.[50] In the same year, he had a recurring role on the Showtime comedy-drama series Roadies as Wes, a former Pearl Jam roadie.[51] He played Felix in the Netflix film Bird Box (2018), and portrayed drummer Tommy Lee in The Dirt, a 2019 Netflix drama about Mötley Crüe.[52] His most recently released movie is Big Time Adolescence, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2019. Baker was also featured in two episodes of MTV's Wild 'n Out in 2013 and 2017.

Personal life

Baker has a daughter born in 2009.[53]

Baker is open about his use of cannabis and he has claimed in many interviews that he smokes daily, describing it as a "source of happiness and a way people can feel a little more love [in their own right]". He has frequently mentioned cannabis references within sources of his music and rap persona, making it a forefront of both his rap and personal character.[54]

Baker cites DMX and Eminem as music influences, as well as listening to rock bands Guns N' Roses and Blink-182 during his youth. Baker cites the latter rap and rock artists as major musical influences.[55] In an interview discussing his collaboration with DMX, Baker called the rapper his idol. He also stated that DMX's music helped him through his troubles while growing up, especially bullying.[56]

Baker identifies as an anarchist.[57]

As of June 2020, he is dating actress Megan Fox.[58]

Backing band

  • AJ Tyus – guitar (2017–present)[59]
  • Steve "Baze" Basil – bass, keys (2017–present)[59]
  • Brandon "Slimxx" Allen – keys, backing vocals (2017–present)[59]
  • JP "Rook" Cappelletty – drums (2017–present)[60]
  • Travis Barker – drums (2019–present)[61]


Studio albums



For film roles, he is credited as Colson Baker unless otherwise noted.

Year Title Role Notes
2014 Beyond the Lights Kid Culprit Credited as Colson 'MGK' Baker
2016 Punk's Dead Crash
Nerve Ty
Viral CJ
The Land Slick Also co-executive producer
2018 Bird Box Felix
2019 Big Time Adolescence Nick
Captive State Jurgis
The Dirt Tommy Lee
2020 The King of Staten Island Tattoo Shop Owner
Project Power Newt
TBA Midnight in the Switchgrass Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
2012–15 WWE Raw Himself 2 episodes
2013 Guy Court Himself Episode: "Sweepstakes"
2014 Unsung Himself Episode: "Bone Thugs-n-Harmony"
2015 Catfish Himself Episode: "Hundra & Emily"
2015 Ridiculousness Himself Episode: "Machine Gun Kelly"
2016 Roadies[51] Wesley "Wes" Mason 10 episodes

Awards and nominations

Billboard Music Awards

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref(s)
2017 "Bad Things" (shared w/ Camila Cabello) Top Rap Collaboration Nominated [63]

iHeartRadio Music Awards

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref(s)
2018 "Say You Won't Let Go" (with Camila Cabello) Best Cover Song Nominated [64]

MTV Europe Music Award

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref(s)
2012 Machine Gun Kelly US Artist About To Go Global Won [65]
2020 Machine Gun Kelly Best Alternative Nominated [66]

MtvU Woodie Awards

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref(s)
2012 Machine Gun Kelly Breaking Woodie Won [67]
2013 Woodie of the Year Won [68]

Ohio Hip Hop Awards

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref(s)
2009 Machine Gun Kelly Best Live Performer Won [69]
2010 Won [70]
"Alice in Wonderland" Best Music Video Won
2011 Machine Gun Kelly Best Mixtape Artist Won [71]
"Lace Up" Best Mixtape Won
Machine Gun Kelly Best Male Artist Won
"Cleveland" (shared w/ Dubo) Video of the Year Won
2012 Machine Gun Kelly Best National Artist Won [72]
"Rage Pack" Best National Mixtape/Album 2nd Place
"Police" (shared w/ Pooh Gutta) Best Collaboration Won
2014 Machine Gun Kelly National Noise Maker Won [73]
"Mind of a Stoner" (shared w/ Wiz Khalifa) Best National Music Video Won
"Breaking News" Best National Music Video 2nd Place
"Mind of a Stoner" (shared w/ Wiz Khalifa) Best National Collaboration Won

Radio Disney Music Awards

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref(s)
2017 "Bad Things" (shared w/ Camila Cabello) Best Collaboration Won [74]

MTV Video Music Awards

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref(s)
2020 "Bloody Valentine" Best Alternative Won [74]


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External links