When discussing Machine Gun Kelly, it is difficult to overlook the wrangling twist 2018 has taken for the Cleveland representer. After three studio albums, varied opinions swarm cyberspace in bold font, and the self-proclaimed “Rap Devil” punctuates both his obstacles and developments comparatively — with waxed lyricism.

Throughout the course of his career, the Hot 100 lister has sonically redefined his artistry many times over. From inking his deal as Diddy’s hard-nosed “Wild Boy” to entering a feud with his long-running idol, MGK’s path does not resemble that of disingenuous clout chaser. Instead, he’s an MC aiming for the jugular and unambiguous notoriety.

Billboard delved into ten of Machine Gun Kelly’s leading records. Rock and rap to Machine Gun Kelly’s best songs below.

Machine Gun Kelly

1. Machine Gun Kelly – “Bad Things” Featuring Camila Cabello

“Bad Things” became both Machine Gun Kelly and Camila Cabello’s first top five Billboard Hot 100 entry as solo artists thanks to their lush storytelling. The hypnotic rap-pop ballad beautifully captures the essence of recklessly young, can’t-get-enough love. The dark passion etched through its audiovisual demonstrates their dynamic is not meant for the fainthearted. Singing, “I want you forever/ Even when we’re not together/ Scars on my body so I can take you wherever,” the duo’s creative chemistry served as a monumental moment in each of their careers.

2. Machine Gun Kelly – “Rap Devil” 

In late August, the Gunna received shots from not one but two MCs in G-Eazy and Eminem. MGK swiftly bypassed the deterrent track “Bad Boy” (which he deemed “frat rap”) with #Freestyle107 on Funkmaster Flex’s Hot 97 segment. Rather than leap forth and spar with G-Eazy, MGK took aim at his idol, Eminem.

On the Kamikaze diss, “Not Alike,” Eminem growled, “If you wanna come at me with a sub, Machine Gun/ And I’m talkin’ to you, but you already know who the fuck you are, Kelly/ I don’t use sublims and sure as fuck don’t sneak-diss/ But keep commenting on my daughter Hailie.” Rather than take his talents to Twitter, MGK responded with a nearly five-minute-long music video “Rap Devil” — in which he casually eats his food. And while this David and Goliath moment is unlikely to go without a scathing rebuttal, Machine Gun Kelly’s dexterity shouldn’t be slept on.

3. Machine Gun Kelly – “Wild Boy” Featuring Waka Flocka Flame

The brazen “Wild Boy” introduction, “Yeah bitch, yeah bitch, call me Steve-O/ I’m a wild boy, fuck an eighth, I need O’s,” raged across airwaves enlisting the fury of Waka Flocka Flame. The then barely-legal mainstream newcomer MGK defied what purists categorized as hip-hop, precipitating mixed reception amidst his Ciroc boy breakthrough. Drug-induced raps and an animated persona forged Machine Gun Kelly’s path as a Bad Boy Records mainstay. Mirroring roster greats of the past, Machine Gun Kelly has persisted with great loyalty towards his mentor throughout his career.

4. Machine Gun Kelly – “Till I Die” 

Masked in an EST 19XX bandana, Machine Gun Kelly put on for the 216 with pride. Filmed in Cleveland, the rapper showcased the hard-knock conditions that fashioned his versatile artistry. “Till I Die” is arguably his grittiest and most poetic song. Rapping, “The hood taught me don’t talk, just walk mine/ Timbos on the curb by the stop sign (Kells),” his spirited ingenuity resonates authentically.

5. Machine Gun Kelly – “Trap Paris” Featuring Ty Dolla $ign & Quavo

The southern-tinged “Trap Paris” slapped through with an incendiary first verse. “Woke up in Paris/ Broke all the mirrors/ Must mean, last night was too turnt/ They caught me f**king on camera/ I ain’t embarrassed,” Kells unapologetically owned. Though Ty Dolla $ign laced the summer danceable with an arousing chorus, it was Quavo’s memorable delivery that sealed the deal.

6. Machine Gun Kelly – “Alpha Omega”

Machine Gun Kelly declared himself the beginning and end on “Alpha Omega.” Over haunting piano keys, MGK barked in his signature machine gun cadences that made him famous. On the rugged track, MGK flowed, “C-L-E-V-E-L-A-N-D’s the greatEST/ I’ll light this bitch up make it look like its Vegas/ We on, mufucka we on/ The first one to blow since Bone,” causing controversy among local artists from “The Land.”

7. Machine Gun Kelly – “LOCO”

MGK’s snarl, “Let em know I want the smoke, so much bread I gotta boast,” sets the tone for his re-emergence into the spotlight. In 2018, Machine Gun Kelly is skewering his detractors on wax like the disorderly wild boy fans remember. Slinging mud towards G-Eazy and Eminem in the weeks to follow the release of “LOCO,” the mattress-squeaking rap banger warned us of MGK’s sinister intentions, “I’ll beat yo ass you try to press that issue on me.” SNL comedian Pete Davidson lent both vocals and a chaotic cameo to the song’s visual. Together, the duo pulled face-bashing stunts and trashed hotel rooms, among other things.

8. Machine Gun Kelly – “See My Tears” 

The “See My Tears” music video brings the rags-to-riches Lace Up track to life. Machine Gun Kelly is advised by Diddy to “speak from your heart” in the vulnerable opening scene. Onlookers see a fan seated in a wheelchair promise MGK to learn how to walk again, upon drawing inspiration from the rapper’s music. To the beat of the confessional record, the fan places one foot in front of the other on stage, championing for the power in Gunna’s heartfelt lyrics. Rapping, “They say we wouldn’t amount to nothing, huh?/ Y’all thought we was bluffing,” MGK’s slanderers tasted their words with this early Bad Boy release.

9. Machine Gun Kelly – “Bad Motherfucker”

Well-known for his adrenaline-rushing anthems, Machine Gun Kelly’s guitar-powered “Bad Motherfucker” made it abundantly clear he’s a rapping rock star. The single boosted the overall appeal of General Admission, his first No. 1 LP on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Pairing heavy drum instrumentation with Kid Rock’s gnarly hook, “Bad Motherfucker” was destined to become a crowd favorite during MGK’s live performances. Spitting, “Tattooed back, man see the rap name/ Take a bath in the champagne, wild motherfucker/ Straight from the block, dawg, ducking shots,” the MC illustrates the juxtaposing aspects of his lifestyle, all while exuding the traits that make him, well, a bad motherf–ker.

10. Machine Gun Kelly – Chip Off the Block

Who would’ve guessed that the first lyricist to acquire two consecutive wins at Apollo Theater’s Amateur Night was simultaneously facing eviction? Despite the developmental hardship, Machine Gun Kelly’s Cleveland-based rap ambitions fueled his trek to Harlem with momentum building towards the viral hit, “Chip Off the Block.” His fast-paced prophecy, “Whoever would’ve thought that a little muthafucker from The Land/ wouldda came up and made them stacks?/ Never was warm in the city, so I had to get on the record and come blaze these tracks,” landed him on MTV2’s Sucker Free Freestyle.


By Bianca Alysse Mercado for Billboard.com 

About The Author

Bianca Alysse is a creatively driven Bronx-born writer and editor. Before becoming The Knockturnal‘s music editor she served as Latina‘s creative coordinator and was a contributor at Billboard. The Boricua scribe has a lengthy resume in the music industry and has penned for Universal Music Publishing Group, Epic Records, G.O.O.D. Music, Compound Entertainment, Artistry & Récords, and Arcade Creative Group. Her work has been seen on platforms like VIBE, mitú, TIDAL, Remezcla, and behind the scenes at New York Fashion Week. As an independent contractor, she has written for Sony Music Entertainment’s global business affairs department, Warner Music Group, and currently Roc Nation.

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