MGK Talks "Lace Up", Avenged Sevenfold, Movies, and More
Fri, 12 Apr 2013 09:50:23
Avenged Sevenfold Photos
Avenged Sevenfold Videos
On Lace Up, MGK taps into something that few rappers do these days. What is it? It's raw, real, and rugged emotion. Lace Up remains one of the most simultaneously catchy and cathartic hip-hop albums of the past decade. It's a vibrant, vicious, and visceral rollercoaster fueled by his lightspeed cadence and vivid storytelling. To put it simply, it's some next level shit…
He's currently on the road playing sold out shows across the country, and he's about to drop his brand new Black Flag mixtape. In the middle of it all, he spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino about Lace Up, movies, life, and so much more.
What's your take on Lace Up as a whole? Is there something connecting all thirteen songs?
If you listen to the Lace Up album as a whole with an open ear, you're going to hear something beautiful. That's what we hear every time. I know I'm not tripping. Everywhere I go on this Lace Up tour, we've sold out. We did the same thing in Canada. They're singing every fucking word to that shit. I know myself and the rest of the 170,000 kids who bought that album aren't loony. We all hear the same beautiful thing. Dude, in my opinion, yes. Every record is one-hundred percent strung together. Most importantly, I think it starts with the intro. That's probably one of my favorite intros I've heard on a rap record. Not only was it a powerful message, it was real. It paints this really vivid picture of what we were right before we signed. We're speaking about when we were in our apartment and we didn't have heat. We had to open up the stove and turn it on to heat our apartment. I was sitting around the stove like "'Fuck this broke shit', petty ass hustlin', couldn't even sell one zone. Slim still workin' at the store and the only time we ever get to eat is when he brings something home". That imagery was crazy. I remember when we were only eating one meal a day, and that was because Slim worked at the store that used to sell chicken wings. The only time we'd eat is when he'd come home with some chicken wings and we'd have to split them.
It's like your world opens up there.
Then, I'm fast-forwarding. Where my baby's mom was staying at during the time was a really rough area. When I got my record deal, I ended up moving them out of there. I'd be tucking my child in, and I'd hear trashcans falling over. I'd look outside and see pitbulls fighting. You'd see crack fiends running up and down the street. Having all that shit come together on the first track, it's like, "Yo, this is the person you're about to hear an album from". It's the guy who's seeing all of this shit. Then, you hear this scream and howl of "Can't you save me?" and cry for help by a fucking metal singer. M. Shadows (Avenged Sevenfold) isn't just a metal singer though. In my honest opinion, he's one of the greatest lead vocalists since Axl Rose. The way he works his voice is amazing. I actually recorded that personally. I flew out to his house. It was just me and him in the studio. I got to record that shit live with no music. I got to hear how ear-piercing it was. I'm just glad that was how we started the album. Fast forward to "What I Do", the record with Bun B. I'd never heard Bun B rap in that fat cadence before, ever. I felt like he gave me a gem.
You set the scene so vibrantly and viciously for people to go on this journey with you…
Thank you, man! Even "Lace Up", which is like a party record, has vivid imagery. We're talking about partying but in a cool way. We're getting fucked up. Checkouts at eleven, but we're sleeping until two. You're having a great time, but you're still the same. That's why I say, "dirty ass chucks". They still look the same. The feeling is still the same. It's still Lace Up. Fast forward to "All We Have", that's such a huge song to me. I really hope all of these records get appreciated one day. Those are things I'll never be able to reflect on or shed light on again. I don't want people to miss those days. I'll never feel the same way I felt when I wrote save me ever again. Hopefully, I'll never be down and out and broke in that situation again. Keep in mind, I'll still have different demons on this level I'm at now but those are records I want people to go back to and say, "Oh shit!"
What's the story behind "End of the Road"?
The guy who I was talking about that brought the chicken wings home, Slim, is my best friend. I wrote "End of the Road" in the parking lot of his job. I'd be outside waiting for him. I'd get off work at Chipotle. Then, I'd go over to pick him up. He worked at this corner store. Like I said, it was a corner store that also served chicken wings and gyros. I'd go there, and I'd be smack dab in the middle of the hood. All of the inspiration you'd want is in that scene right there [Laughs]. I'd get off at 11, and he'd get off at 12. I'd go over there early and sit outside. I just started writing those words down. It's funny. I actually produced the beat. It was at a time when we couldn't afford beats. I wrote that years before the album came out. I wrote it when I was 18-years-old. I fought to make sure that record would be heard. My core fan base has heard it, but I wanted everybody to so I put it on the album. It leaves you wondering where I'm going next.
Outside of music, what influences you?
I love to read. Reading is so powerful. One of my favorite books ever is Scar Tissue [Amazon] by Anthony Kiedis of Red Hot Chili Peppers. His story is so vivid and sweet. When I read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea [Amazon], I'm fucking underwater for real. That's how I feel. I'm like, "I'm underwater with crustaceans and shit". I think you're going to dig my new shit even more. I was listening to Drake one day, and I asked my buddy, "Why is Drake so loved and revered? He's so good!" He pointed it out. He makes these timeless situations come to life by describing mad details. He'll talk about a girl sitting there, but he'll say little things that make the scene come to life in your heard. Once I realized that, I think my style improved. You'll hear that on the new Black Flag mixtape. It's a new revamped Machine Gun Kelly which I'm really excited for.
If you were to compare Lace Up to a movie, what would you compare it to?
Probably Ali, because we're the champions and we've been the champions all along, it's just taken a couple of knockouts for people to realize it.
What are some of your favorite movies?
Definitely Almost Famous! Then, there are all of the hood classics like Friday and Boyz 'N the Hood. I got this DVD called The Song Remains the Same by Led Zeppelin. I love that! Casino was a great one. That's fucking badass! I don't think it's one of my favorite movies, but Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a really interesting movie. You watch that, and you're like, "Wow!" I finished watching it finally after all of the attempts I made. It's about American excess. I'm at a point in my life where I'm very intellectual and I'm into looking into things. That movie finally made sense to me. Almost Famous has got to be my favorite though.
Who are you listening to now?
At the moment, in my iPod, you'll probably see "Dream On" by Aerosmith, "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" by Dropkick Murphys. You'll see that new Jimi Hendrix album [People, Hell and Angels] that just came out. That's pretty fucking bluesy. I like it. You'll hear some Yo Gotti too. That's what's going on in my iPod now.
How far into the next album are you?
I have a clear version of where I want to go for the second album. To be honest though, I don't have any inspiration. I always like to speak on life situations. I'll probably wait until I get off tour and then start working on the album. Black Flag will probably take up the rest of my year. You're going to hear some records on there that will really resonate.
Is it more raw?
It's punk-y in the sense of "fuck everybody". I'm cocky and confident on there. I'm doing shit on there that I wanted to do. I did a "Swing Life Away" cover by Rise Against with the lead singer of Sleeping with Sirens. That record is fucking insane. "Swing Life Away" is a classic. That's priceless. There are other raw records. Think of the early Machine Gun Kelly, it's raw with no chorus and straight spitting. It's militant. It's fuck you. It's Black Flag.
What's your favorite MGK song?