Machine Gun Kelly releases new album, “Hotel Diablo”

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Depending on a person’s taste, and schedule, it might have escaped his or her notice that Machine Gun Kelly (real name Colson Baker) dropped a new album about a month ago.

“Hotel Diablo” depicts the rapper as a child on the front, upside down with the dome of his head off, like a container lid. For people of a certain age, this might call to mind “Lucas With the Lid Off,” but that’s a digression.

On at least two tracks, Baker provides instrumentation that sounds like old school heavy metal. And that is mixed with backing vocals that are ominous chants. The mood is dark, and he still comes for Eminem, which indicates that the beef between the two might not be over.

Still, “Floor 13” and “I Think I’m Okay,” sound like the rapper has found his vision, his real voice and wrapped it in dark rock ‘n’ roll. Arguably, this recording is better than some of his earlier work. Machine Gun Kelly is diving deep into his personal history and pulling out unexpected bars.

“Floor 13” by Machine Gun Kelly

The aggrieved guitar riff is thick and wraps around the lyrics nicely. In this, Machine Gun Kelly raps fast, but mostly clear, so no mumble rap that he was dissed for by Eminem, the biggest detraction of the song is that he maintains (more than once) that “Killshot” missed him. Critics and rappers like Crypt and JayBlac take an issue with his assertion.

In a reaction video, Crypt insists (in essence) that Machine Gun Kelly should have at least acknowledged that “Killshot” was a good song, even if it did diss him. JayBlac goes a bit further by insisting that the song didn’t miss MGK, and to repeat that it did not is a bit annoying. Maybe the point is to taunt Eminem into sparring with him again. Perhaps that could happen, and fans are certainly here for it.

Machine Gun Kelly does delve into his darkness and reminds listeners that he can never die: “I multiply/I never die/ so don’t cry at my funeral.” He describes physical altercations, including a 2014 robbery attempt in which he beat off his would-be assailants. The lyrics make it clear that  Machine Gun Kelly thought the world was against him, but his young daughter stands up for him against her peers.

“I Think I’m Okay” by Machine Gun Kelly

The video shows the theme of the song clearly. But the lyrics are pretty obvious, too. The lyrics are about a narrator who messes things up when they are going well, who calls in the middle of the night and says nothing and so forth. But the video speaks loudly of a culture in which young people who feel different, cast out, perhaps damaged, find a place to feel okay.

The rapper does assert that if it is his life, couldn’t he take it if he wanted to? The line is dark, but unfortunately, it resonates with a cross-section of people. The video is a good reminder of what a spectrum of contemporary youth look like.

The members of the crowd are of different races, genders, and are all expressing themselves with cutting-edge hair and clothing styles. Here, the idea that rock music isn’t for black people should come to die if it hasn’t already. Watching black youth with locs and braids headbang to the instrumentation in this song is a triumph of sorts. Seeing Machine Gun Kelly bandage a young woman’s bloody knees is kind of touching, a way of making sure someone else is okay

The YouTube critics are wondering why Machine Gun Kelly didn’t come this hard at Eminem during the actual beef. There seems no readily available answer. The only thing that is for sure is that if there is a continuation of the beef, Eminem’s response would be highly anticipated.

 

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2 responses to “Machine Gun Kelly releases new album, “Hotel Diablo””

    • No. It has nothing to do with cognition. Their responses to a work I was writing about gained negative and positive attention, thus worth noting and paraphrasing, which is different from quoting.

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