Machine Gun Kelly is Cleveland's leading export. The MC, signed to P. Diddy's Bad Boy label has been grinding independently for years, finally making a major breakthrough with his Waka Flocka Flame collaboration Wild Boy, released back in 2012. His debut album, Lace Up, released that same year, was an energetic project that showcased Kelly's raw ethos and rapid delivery. General Admission is his sophomore album, and MGK adopts a more mature approach, with more personal content than his previous work.
The slow-paced, trapped out beat of Alpha Omega allow Kelly to do what he does best; the aggressive, energetic delivery and frantic, in-the-pocket flow make him a really exciting MC to listen to. The personal content and clever lyricism are a notable step-up from Kelly's earlier work. Sonically it's not a world away, but what MGK is rhyming about is more detailed, thoughtful and sincere, and this translates across the whole of General Admission. The hard hitting electronic production continues over the next few tracks, but Bad Mother Fucker, which features Kid Rock, again displays Kelly's stylistic versatility, as well as continuing with his impressive rhyme structures. It's good that Kelly doesn't switch his content up so much that he loses any of that punk-rock attitude that has helped his reputation grow.
Oz. again chronicles MGK's rise to success, rhyming about his days growing up in Cleveland over a Jim Jonsin production. Everyday is an inspirational track; MGK rides the line between relatable, interesting content and the raw, aggressive style that has given him recognition thus far. Tracks like Gone, although MGK's introspective lyrics are passionately delivered and well written, and Merry Go Round, where Kelly demonstrates skilful storytelling abilities, are let down by the mellow, commercial production. When he crosses over the line that bit too much, he loses that key edge that was present on the early part of the album. A Little More is similar in subject matter to Everyday, except it also falls victim to the catchy, poppy production, whereas Everyday had a soulful vibe with dope beat switches that makes the track have a lot of replay value.
General Admission is a bit of a confusing one. Sometimes it shows a maturer Machine Gun Kelly who has grown in terms of content but maintains that energy and anti-establishment feel that has given him integrity and respect. On the flip side of the coin Kelly strays too far from his roots in terms of the production choices. Growing and maturing is all well and good, but some of the beats on here simply don't fit with Kelly's voice or his savage delivery, and the project as a whole does suffer because of that. When MGK is at full pelt over textured and hard hitting instrumentals he shines, and it's impressive that he can match personal content with such an amped delivery. There's definitely moments on General Admission that show how skilled Kelly is, but there's a number of mis-steps too.
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