Album Review: MGK “Lace Up”

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Artist: MGK

Album: Lace Up

Label: Bad Boy/Interscope

Date: 10/9/12

Machine Gun Kelly has been building a buzz around his name consistently throughout the last year.  He inked a deal with Bad Boy, made the 2012 XXL Freshmen list, toured with Tech N9ne, and faced multiple arrests for reckless behavior. With all that and more now under his belt, the “east-side Cleveland wild boy” is finally ready to lace up for his debut album.
Lace Up is a cross genre album between rock and rap, which fits with MGK’s style perfectly as he is a combination of a rock star and a rapper.  Although his fan base consists of a pretty specific niche, MGK is a true performer and has gained fans while maintaining the support of the followers of his EST movement.  His shows often feature mosh pits, a live band, and dedicated fans (many of whom now show off their “Lace Up” tattoos at shows for a chance to be brought on stage.)  Kells has truly developed a “wild boy” image to go along with his lead single by that title.  Although the Waka Flocka assisted “Wild Boy” has been out for over a year, it still made the cut for the album.
On Lace Up, MGK is joined by rap veterans such as Bun B, DMX, Tech N9ne, Twista, and Young Jeezy as well as metal band, Avenged Sevenfold.  While having such well-known artists featured on the album will be sure to draw in some new listeners many of them out-shined MGK on his tracks, with the exception of “Wild Boy” where the chemistry between Kells and Waka Flocka made for a more well-balanced cut.
The album starts off with a heavy rock influence as Machine Gun Kelly speaks about his purpose in the rap game and the struggle he faced growing up in Cleveland.  The introduction features Avenged Sevenfold’s lead vocalist M. Shadows and lead guitarist Synyster Gates.
The title track “Lace Up” features some classic Lil Jon ad libs. Kells shows off his rap skills and the rapid flow ability that his name suggests on “Edge of Destruction” where he is accompanied by Tech N9ne and Twista.  Although MGK has not yet reached the level of perfection they have with their quick paced flows it’s still a solid track.  After assisting DMX on his lead single “I Don’t Dance,” Machine Gun Kelly calls upon X to return the favor on “D3mons.”   As its title suggests, “D3mons” is a dark chilling track about the rappers’ internal struggles.
“All We Have” and “See My Tears” are more introspective tracks.  The first deals with forgiveness and moving on from mistakes in life while the second tells the emotional story of MGK’s personal struggles. “All We Have” is much more pop than the rest of the album and as a result lacks some of the authenticity felt on the rest of the tracks. “On My Way” is another reminiscent story-telling track about how far MGK has come.
On the final track, “End Of The Road,” MGK states “I dedicate this to my teachers who never believed in me and the mother that conceived but ended up leaving me . . I came out of a dying city, brought back life/Everything they said I couldn’t do I did twice.”  This sentiment sums up the theme and feel of the project very well.  
 The production throughout the album keeps up with Machine Gun Kelly’s high energy and fast pace.  The project includes production from J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Alex da Kid, and others with almost every track featuring screaming metal guitars and a strong drum presence.
Kells “got these crazy white boys yellin’ Cobain’s back!”  and with Diddy backing him we may be seeing a lot more punk rock hip hop entering the mainstream in the near future. Lace Up is a solid debut album and a great introduction to what Machine Gun Kelly is all about.


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