Cleveland rapper Machine Gun Kelly is known for many things: his overly hyperactive stage presence, his lightning-quick verses and being a protégé of Diddy. But what most may not realize about MGK is that he’s actually as much of a punk as he is a rapper. Not only does he have all the traits of a true punk rocker, but he’s been hanging around our music scene for years now. This dude is one of us. Here are 12 reasons why MGK is the most punk rapper.
1. He named his album Black Flag.
Whether it was intentional or not, MGK’s latest mixtape (or album, if you ask him) bears the name of the iconic Hermosa Beach, California, hardcore punks.
2. He’s done an entire Warped Tour.
How many rappers do you know who have slugged it out on the entire Vans Warped Tour? MGK did it and had no trouble fitting in as an urban artist among punks, pop-punks, metalheads and emos.
3. He covered Rise Against—and it’s really fucking good.
As a genre, hip-hop is in no shortage of cover songs. But how many rappers do you know cover songs by punk bands? The CLE MC took on Chicago political punks Rise Against’s hit song, “Swing Life Away.” The original track is a slower, acoustic number—not exactly optimized for quick-spit rap verses—but MGK manages to make the song shine in a whole new light. Oh, he also got some help from Sleeping With Sirens’ Kellin Quinn for the chorus.
4. He’s performed with Blink-182.
Not only has MGK performed with Blink-182, he’s also a big fan, citing Enema Of The State as one of his top 30 albums. “They spoke for exactly what was going on in a teenage person’s life,” he told Complex. “Even ‘Adam’s Song,’ when you start getting old enough to have dark thoughts. They spoke on that so well. It was almost a graduation song too. It’s a good song to reflect on life. They had a great balance of music between mood-lifters and songs that you can just vibe out to. That’s my fucking shit.”
5. He’s also covered them.
6. And again, while stripping his clothes off and climbing 40 goddamn feet high.
That’s punk. This guy is making this list too easy to write.
7. He has a song with Avenged Sevenfold.
Avenged Sevenfold’s Waking The Fallen is one of MGK’s favorite albums, and he also has a song of his own, “Save Me,” featuring A7X frontman M. Shadows and guitarist Synyster Gates.
8. This year, he crashed Warped Tour with Linkin Park.
When Linkin Park gave a surprise performance at the Ventura, California stop of Warped Tour earlier this summer, everyone lost their minds with excitement—especially all the singers on the tour, who were probably giddy as hell about getting to meet Chester Bennington. MGK came along with LP and performed “Bleed It Out” with them.
9. He climbs, jumps, dives and crowdsurfs like any other punk with an appetite for injury.
10. He did guest vocals for Sleeping With Sirens.
Not only did he feature Kellin Quinn on his Rise Against cover, but MGK also lent his rhymes to Sleeping With Sirens for the song “Alone,” one of the best songs on Feel. It’s not often you see legitimate rappers collaborating with Warped Tour headliners, but don’t be surprised if you see MGK do it again. The guy seems to do whatever the fuck he wants.
11. He gets arrested for dumb punk shit—like starting a riot in a mall.
12. He’s coming to a punk-rock award show.
MGK is appearing and performing at the inaugural AP Music Awards this Monday. It’s going to be a must-see performance, and you can still get tickets today. It’s not exactly surprising that he’s coming, though: The rapper has always been down with AP and the bands in our scene. He’s done things with AP like music video premieres, and there was that one time when we were filming a video with Asking Alexandria and he just showed up.