Cleveland rapper Machine Gun Kelly has made a rebirthing comeback to the mainstream on July 5 to deliver his genre-blending fourth album, “Hotel Diablo". This new LP is a new awakening of divisive content as Baker seems to be more open about his life struggles and musical altercations.
Kelly (whose real name is Colson Baker) has received mixed publicity lately from his high profile beef with his idol Eminem. Between two of the best scathing diss records hip-hop has heard (“Rap Devil” and “Killshot”), it’s hard to tell who won, but Kelly’s music catalog along with his artistry has definitely gotten a new shot at life. MGK’s new album brings a sound of genre cohesion of rap and alternative that we knew lies beneath his mind.
The album opens with “Sex Drive,” an odd instrumental that gives the message “come and find yourself” which is a main theme of MGK reinventing himself. The LP is 37 minutes long, yet it could’ve reached the 40 minute mark with a couple more unreleased tracks. However, that probably was set for his “BINGE” EP as an appetizer.
“El Diablo” brings the familiar spitfire delivery MGK is known for as he addresses listeners that his career’s still intact after Eminem’s deadly “Killshot.” The beef has only made him stronger and hungrier to get his deserved recognition from being an innovator to rap-rock performances. In the song “Floor 13,” he addresses Eminem’s diss and critics while showing love to his hometown. The title alludes to a place in MGK’s mind that many shouldn’t tamper with and where his artistry buildup is key to being provoked.
“Point out my enemies soon as they mention me / Call an assembly, pick up a pen and put you out your misery / Written in history, it was gonna happen eventually / I just can't wait 'til the day that I run into you physically."
There’s a nice tribute to Linkin Park in the single “Hollywood Whore,” utilizing a sample from their song “Numb” as this track brings rap and alternative rock full circle. It’s about modern day artists being wrongfully coerced in a corrupt music industry, in which promises are repeatedly broken by snakes. The live band accompanied by the visuals suits the creative pursuit Kelly is aiming for: an atypical good album that’s more than raw rap skills.
Baker can sing a little too given his tracks “5:3666” and the Trippie Redd-assisted “Candy.” He falls back on typical drug-infused lyrics for “Candy”, as this album also deals with addressing past addictions (pills) so it’s a necessary fill-in. The vocals don’t immediately point out hitmaker Kelly, but more of a somber and self-reflective Kelly. He’s more susceptible to his childhood rock origins to use in the studio but he’s ready to flip the switch as “Wild Boy” MGK if new enemies challenge him.
“If I die before I wake, smoke me out at Heaven's gate / Bring me back to life on Sunday, pour me up the devil's drink / Wake up, go to work on Monday, grind it out for seven straight / You showed me that just because we're blood don't mean we relate.”
With more polished pearls one right after the other, it expects to hit the heartstrings of some in “Glass House” and “Burning Memories.” Along with Naomi Wild’s superb chorus, MGK reflects on artists gone too soon, such as Mac Miller, Lil Peep and Linkin Park’s Chester Bennigton. These wonderful artists created a void that Colson had to fulfill with “Hotel Diablo”, but “Burning Memories” still exist from his parents which turned him into the widely known Rap Devil today.
The final track “I Think I’m Okay” is a full alternative song that represents the full diversity on the album. With musicians YUNGBLUD’s screaming, emo verse and Blink-182’s Travis Barker’s iconic drum session, this is the chant-along record to perform on award shows that turns the ceremony upside down. “Hotel Diablo” is the fourth album created with patience and emotion that brings genre-blending advancement to the mainstream. The production and innately radiant content shows that the rocky journey of Machine Gun Kelly is far from over.
Echo Grade: B+