Who Is Machine Gun Kelly?

In the world at any given time, there are hundreds or even thousands of famous people. Of course, a large portion of them are musicians. Mick Jagger, Eminem, Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Jennifer Hudson, Kelly Clarkson. The list goes on—that’s the point.

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But occasionally, some of those people become infamous. It’s a subsection of fame. One that implies popularity but also a darker more nefarious side of reality. Enter: Machine Gun Kelly. He’s one of the most famous songwriters and performers on Earth. But many might wonder… why?

[RELATED: MGK Releasing New Movie—’Machine Gun Kelly: Mainstream Sellout Live from Cleveland: The Pink Era’]

The Early Years

Born Colson Baker on April 22, 1990, the young man who would become MGK had it rough. His parents were missionaries, so his family moved around a lot, both in and out of the U.S., even living in Germany for a while. Growing up in the church caused Baker to rebel.

His mother moved away from the family when he was nine years old and his father suffered from depression. Living in Denver, Baker grew up poor. In the sixth grade, though, he found hip-hop music and he began looking to the art form as an outlet. His heroes then, he’s said, were Eminem (more on him later), Ludacris and DMX.

Rap

At 19 years old, Baker performed at Harlem’s Apollo Theater in New York City. His love affair with rap music had turned into a burgeoning career. And in his late teens, on the brink of eviction from his apartment in Cleveland, Baker won twice at the Apollo’s famed music competitions.

This led to more attention for the young artist. He began to get noticed by MTV for his freestyling abilities. Back home in Cleveland, MGK was collaborating with local artists and releasing music that celebrated his home city and the Midwest. One such song included, “Cleveland,” which MGK released on his debut LP, Lace Up, in 2012, and became a national hit. Today, that song boasts nearly 20 million views on YouTube.

For a tall, gawky, scratchy-voiced white kid from the Midwest, the son of missionary parents, he really took to rap and became one of its rising stars. He released four rap records, including albums on the famed label, Bad Boy, but then a change took place.

Pop-Punk

Perhaps thinking he couldn’t get any bigger in rap, MGK made the decision to switch lanes and dive headfirst into a new genre: pop punk. Working with Blink-182’s drummer Travis Barker, who is perhaps the biggest name in the genre today, Baker, under his Machine Gun Kelly moniker, picked up a pink guitar and began writing fast-paced rock tracks.

He released Tickets to My Downfall in 2020, which included appearances by Barker and Halsey (a former girlfriend of MGK’s) and featured songs about MGK’s lonesome past, his thoughts of depression, his wild boy persona, and more.

MGK’s transition to the new genre may have started earlier, when he released his song “I Think I’m Okay” on his fourth LP, Hotel Diablo. Around this time, he also portrayed Mötley Crüe drummer and similarly famous party boy Tommy Lee in the movie, The Dirt.

Two years later, MGK released the pop-punk follow-up Mainstream Sellout, also on Bad Boy. It earned a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Album. That album included appearances by Lil Wayne and burgeoning pop-punk artist Willow. MGK dons the genre’s aesthetic, too, painting his hair and nails bright colors.

Megan Fox

Of course, so often when someone gets famous, a power couple relationship is next. And while MGK, who has been known as something of a ladies’ man, had dated the pop star, Halsey, his biggest relationship to date has been with the movie star Megan Fox. They met while making movies. First, it was in the 2021 offering, Midnight in the Switchgrass, with Bruce Willis. Then, Fox played a role in MGK’s movie, Good Mourning, which he co-wrote and co-directed.

MGK, who has a daughter, born in 2009, with a woman named Emma Cannon, has dated the model Amber Rose, too. But it was Fox who he seemed to really fall for. The two announced they were engaged on January 12, 2022. But rumors these days say they are on again, off again, despite the fact that MGK apparently bought Fox a ring that would cut her finger if she took it off.

Drugs

MGK is open about his drug use. He’s a proponent of cannabis and said that leading up to his debut LP, Lace Up, in 2012, he was using heroin. He also said he’s used cocaine, drank heavily and had an addiction to Adderall. He often talks about substance use (and abuse) in his music.

Eminem Feud

Machine Gun Kelly is brash, to put it kindly. Many might use harsher words to describe him. He is a polarizing guy, unafraid, it would seem, to speak his mind or criticize those who he believes deserve it. As such, he has gotten into a few feuds in his day, perhaps most notably with Eminem and Corey Taylor.

The first happened in 2012 after MGK commented on a picture of Eminem’s daughter, Hailie, saying she was “hot as fuck.” She was 16 at the time. The two traded barbs and diss songs, with Eminem releasing “Not Alike,” and MGK releasing, “Rap Devil.” Then Em dropped, “Killshot.” And, well, had the last word. Or so many would hope. The two have continued to trade darts in various songs ever since, including Em’s song, “Gnat.”

Corey Taylor Feud

But MGK wasn’t done with that one. The man wasn’t afraid to go after pro fighter Conor McGregor at the MTV Video Music Awards, so he isn’t afraid of the Slipknot singer, either. The two began a feud when they were actually trying to collaborate. In 2021, Taylor said, “I hate all new rock for the most part — well, the artists who failed in one genre and decided to go rock. And I think he knows who he is, but that’s another story.”

MGK fired back at a show at the festival Riot Fest when he and Slipknot were slated to play in the same time slot on different stages. Said MGK, “I see who chose to be here instead of with all the old weird dudes with masks.” He added, “You wanna know what I’m really happy that I’m not doing? Being 50 years old, wearing a fuckin’ weird mask on a fuckin’ stage, talking shit.”

Taylor, apparently, was meant to be on MGK’s Tickets to My Downfall but backed out, which was the source of the argument. MGK said he didn’t like Taylor’s verse and asked him to rewrite it. Then the friction began. More recently, MGK has said he regrets the fight.

New Music

In recent videos posted to YouTube, MGK can be seen rapping again. This has led to rumors that the “Blonde Don” is going back to his roots on his next record. What his next move will be is anyone’s guess. MGK’s included.

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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