My Intro to Music
Growing up, my first tapes — yes tapes, not CDs — were Green Day Dookie and The Offspring Smash. These were both released in 1994, when I was eight years old. My first radio station of choice was 94.9 ZETA, the local rock station (not the 94.9 of today “Para Hits de Hoy”). I was making my way towards becoming a rock/grunge/goth/punk kid, but then something unexpected happened…
For one weekend, my older cousins (Cuban Cousins*) came and stayed with us. In the car, I put on 94.9 and my older cousin changed the station to Power 96 (96.5) and that changed the course of my music history. From then on, I was mostly a rap kid.
*Side Quest: A Cuban Cousin is someone who you grow up believing is actually related to you, only to find out later on that they were just your parents best friend’s kid,
the child of a family friend, or even a complete stranger.
When I was a kid, you either liked THIS music or THAT music, but not both — (at that time it was mainly RAP or ROCK music). Later on, some bands came along and mixed everything up (bands like Limp Bizkit, Korn and Linkin Park), but I mostly stuck with the raps until late high school/early college.
In college, I decided I wanted to learn to play the guitar during my “Quarter Life Crisis” (which I have gone over before). I started off learning Rage Against the Machine songs (a rock band with a rapper on the mic). After learning that the band Audioslave was just Rage (minus singer/rapper, Zack de la Rocha) with Chris Cornell from Soundgarden (RIP Chris), I started going back to explore music from older rock bands I had heard of, but never really listened to.
The main lesson I learned from playing a musical instrument is that music is music,
so like whatever you like.
Who cares what people say or think about your musical taste. I purchased Justin Bieber’s album (My World 2.0) to play “Baby” over and over in my car and annoy my friends, but I actually started to dig the rest of the songs and much of his music since.
MGK + Taylor
A few days before my birthday this year, the Foo Fighters drummer, Taylor Hawkins, died unexpectedly. I’ve only been able to see Foo Fighters twice in my lifetime (in Atlanta and West Palm Beach), and I was hoping to see them on their next tour, even if I had to travel to a far, far away land.
*Side Quest: Foo Fighters is and has always been one of my top bands. I recently
learned is that I have my list of TOP BANDS OF ALL TIME
(Dream Theater, Foo Fighters, Coheed & Cambria,
Porcupine Tree and Rush). These are my top bands of all time,
because I can listen to any of their albums,
front–to-back, at any point in time.
I also have a long list of BANDS I LOVE RIGHT NOW, that is always changing.
These are mostly bands and artists that I listen to while running, working out,
driving, hitting golf balls, grocery shopping, and more…
Run the Jewels, Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish, Metallica,
Ghost, Lamb of God, Ed Sheeran, The Black Keys,
RHCP, Kid Cudi, Florence and the Machine…
The death of Taylor led to an outpouring of lovely stories and social media posts from all types of musicians. At this time, I was not familiar with Machine Gun Kelly. I had heard that name, but if you showed me pictures of MGK, Post Malone and Action Bronson — I wouldn’t be able to tell you who was who in that line up. I came across Machine Gun Kelly on Howard Stern talking about meeting Taylor a few days before his death.
In the interview, Machine Gun Kelly shared that Dave Grohl (Singer of Foo Fighters, and the Devil in Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny) had invited him and his bandmates to a shindig. They were all on a festival tour through South America together and the previous show had been canceled due to some pretty bad weather. MGK had talked to Dave and Taylor and they both said they had wanted to check out his set, but the weather ruined it.
Before he had a chance to watch MGK perform Taylor died.
*Side Quest: Why am I telling this sad story? Because it helped me realize something important. All musicians are inspired by someone who came before them,
but they can also appreciate those who come after them. It’s also fine
for a musician of a specific genre to listen to and enjoy music
of other styles and genres.
After hearing this story of Taylor wanting to see Machine Gun Kelly and his band play I decided to listen to his music too. I started with an early album, Laces Up, which was a rap album. By the time I made it to his last two albums, Tickets to my Downfall and Mainstream Sellout, he had changed to more of a pop punk sound, with a hint of rap. I was really digging this new sound.
Why I Love MGK
A few weeks after getting into the music of MGK he was a guest on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast. This is where I learned a lot more about Colson Baker (Machine Gun Kelly’s real name). He also mentioned his upcoming tour, the Mainstream Sellout Tour and how they were going all out with set decoration, lights, pyro and everything else. I knew I had to attend this tour.
I checked and the tour was coming to the home of the Miami Heat, the FTX Arena* (formerly the AAA — American Airlines Arena). I was lucky enough to attend my first Machine Gun Kelly show, just months after becoming a huge fan, and it was one of my favorite shows I’ve been to recently.
Side Quest-ion: How are these crypto people buying up arenas, sports teams and everything else. Also, when they go to purchase a soccer stadium
do they pay in real dollars or their digital coins?
The entire show focused on a central theme of the internet putting Colson/MGK in a box, which is something that happens to many celebrities. Any time I tell someone about my love for MGK they hit me back with something like, “I heard that Megan Fox and him drink each other’s blood.” or “Isn’t that the guy that did [insert some crazy thing here].”
Many of those stories are opinions people formed from clickbait articles, mainly articles that no one reads. These headlines are created to shock you and get you to “click” on them (hence the name “clickbait”). Instead people don’t click on them (unless they are dummies) and just remember the headline, which usually doesn’t even pay off in the full article. It’s the new game of “telephone” where everyone is continuously sharing and spreading a bunch of second hand news. News that’s not even newsworthy most of the time.
The world is basically full of a bunch of Anthony Crispinos.
In the end, with our powers combined, we killed the internet and got to listen to some cool music throughout our journey. Here’s some quick reasons why Machine Gun Kelly has become one of my favorite humans (he’s up there with Paul Rudd and Dave Grohl now).
(1) Rapper/Pop Punk Rocker
As I said before, I first listened to Laces Up (debut rap album) before jumping into his two latest albums Tickets to my Downfall and Mainstream Sellout (pop punk albums). Now, I mostly listen to those two, but still go back to Hotel Diablo (rap album) and some of the other rap albums.
I’ve heard of people criticizing MGK for switching from Rap to Rock, but if you go back to his first song on Laces Up (Save Me) it features two members of the heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold (M. Shadows & Synyster Gates). He mentioned this on Dax’s podcast.
The coolest part to me about MGK moving from a rapper to pop punk is the mentality shift, and maybe that comes with aging and maturing. Maybe he was just looking for a change. Maybe he just wanted to play his guitar for a while. In most rap music the mentality is I’m the sh*t, while in pop punk the mentality is more I’m a piece of sh*t and here’s all the reasons why.
(2) Beef with Eminem
When I was getting ready to go to the MGK show, I asked my buddy if he’d want to go. His response was, “No way, MGK has beef with Eminem.” The great part about rap beef is that you don’t have to choose a side. You can just listen from the sidelines and enjoy both artist’s attacks on each other.
Side Quest: It’s like watching wrestling. I’m mostly a fan of the good guys (or baby faces) in wrestling. Still, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy watching the bad guys (or heels),
like Seth Freakin’ Rollins, come out and try to burn everything down. I love it
when a heel is on the mic, telling whatever town they’re in why
everyone there sucks.
As a kid, I was a fan of both Biggie and Tupac. I never chose a side, I enjoyed both Hit ‘Em Up and Who Shot Ya? When Jay-Z and Nas had beef I also didn’t choose a side, I just thought they both had valid arguments. Canibus came out with 2nd Round Knockout about the legendary LL Cool J, but it was a great track and had Mike Tyson in it.
Sure, I would prefer a world where everyone can be friends and get along, but if they’re going to use conflict in a creative way who am I to choose a side. It’s part of being a rapper.
*In this section I’ve included links to most of the beef music on YouTube.
(3) Colson vs MGK
To me, Colson Baker and Machine Gun Kelly are two different people. MGK is sort of like a wrestler’s persona in the ring. He gets to be as crazy and wild as he wants to be. Colson is probably a bit wild too, but this dude does so much more than just music. He acts in films. He played Tommy Lee in that Netflix Mötley Crüe movie, The Dirt.
Before the show, he also pulled one of the most baller stunts I’ve ever seen at a concert. I’m surprised that Academy Award winner, Jared Leto, didn’t pull something like this when I went to see Thirty Seconds to Mars a few years ago.
Back in May, the movie Good Mourning was released (written, directed and starring Colson Baker and Mod Sun — another musician). Before coming out to perform the trailer for the movie played on the big screens to let everyone know what to watch on their TV the next night at home.
Another thing Colson mentioned on Dax’s podcast is that he likes to curate a playlist for the audience to listen to before he comes out for a show. He wants us to get there early, see the opening acts (for the Miami show — Iian Dior and Blackbear), and listen to some good music. The playlist was made up of bands that have influenced him, and it leaned more towards the rock/metal/punk side of things.
Right before (or maybe right after) the trailer for Good Mourning the song Welcome to the Black Parade by My Chemical Romance played in it’s entirety at a higher volume to warm up the crowd. Everyone sang along and then the lights went out and the show started. It was amazing and reminded me of how much I loved that album.
I’m curious if that’s been the song of choice for the entire tour, or if he chooses a different warm up song each night. Either way, I can’t wait to see MGK next time he’s in town, or if I travel and happen to be wherever he is.
I mentioned wrestling a few times in this post, but that’s cool because MGK is a fan of wrestling. In fact, he was a musical guest on Monday Night RAW where this happened.
He also curated the music for the latest WWE 2K22 game, which is why he also came to the game as a playable WWE Superstar. That’s how I was able to create this video of MGK getting his revenge on Kevin Owens (KO).
As I finish putting this post together MGK just did his final show of the North American tour dates in his hometown of Cleveland, OH this past music. The mayor even named 8.13 MGK day in Cleveland before the show.
The point of this post is not to get everyone to become as big an MGK fan as I now am. The point is to get people to try new things, whether it’s with music, movies and TV, food, adventures or anything else.
Maybe the point is not to hate on things before giving them a try, but If you have given something a try and you decided you now hate that something — then sure,
you’re free to hate that thing.
Here’s one last MGK video to finish this thing off… ay!