Childhood & Early Life
Colson Baker, better known by his nick name Machine Gin Kelly (MGK), was born on April 22, 1990 in Houston, USA to missionary parents. His family moved all around the world and Kelly spend his early childhood in places such as Egypt, Germany and throughout the United States.
Tragedy struck him early on, as his mother left home. As if this were any less, his father suffered from depression and unemployment. Richard Colson Baker was ridiculed by his friends and neighbours. To find solace, he started listening to rap music.
He studied at Hamilton Middle School and later at Denver’s Thomas Jefferson High School. While at high school, he experimented with drugs. Simultaneously during this time, he recorded his first amateur demo tape, ‘Stamp of Approval’.
Later, Colson Baker enrolled at Shaker Heights High School. It was here that music career began. He convinced a local t-shirt shop owner to double as his MC Manager. It was during this time that Baker gained his stage name Machine Gun Kelly (MGK) by his fans due to his rapid fire delivery, a named that stuck with him for life.
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In 2006, Machine Gun Kelly released the mixtape ‘Stamp of Approval’. The response was overwhelming as it built a reputation for MGK as a performer and an artist. He began performing at local Cleveland venues.
His early break came with the 2009 victory at Apollo Theatre, the first-ever by a rapper. He then gained the national spotlight when he was featured on MTV2's Sucker Free Freestyle, where he free-styled numerous verses from his ‘Chip off the Block’ single.
In February 2010, he released his second mixtape ‘100 Words and Running’, where he derived his catchphrase, ‘Lace Up’, which started as a mixtape interlude, before making it a prominent reference in his music. Concurrently, MGK worked at Chipotle to support living.
In May 2010, MGK made his national debut with the single ‘Alice in Wonderland’. The song was released via Block Starz Music on iTunes. It received a wide positive reception and also earned MGK the Best Midwest Artist award at the 2010 Underground Music Awards.
In November 2010, MGK released his second mixtape titled ‘Lace Up’. It featured the hometown anthem ‘Cleveland’. Following this, he appeared on the Juicy J track ‘Inhale’, which also featured Steve-O from the television series Jackass in the music video.
In March 2011, MGK participated in the first SXSW show in Austin, Texas. He then signed a recording contract with Bad Boy Records and released the music video ‘Wild Boy’, featuring Waka Flocka Flame. The duo appeared on BET's 106 & Park to promote the single.
In mid-2011, MGK signed a deal with Young and Reckless Clothing. He then released his first EP, ‘Half Naked & Famous’ on March 20, 2012. The EP debuted at 46 on the Billboard 200.
In October 2012, MGK’s debut album ‘Lace Up’ was released. The album debuted at number 4 on the US Billboard 200. Its lead single ‘Wild Boy’ peaked on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number 98. It was soon certified gold by the RIAA. The song ‘Invincible’ served as the second single of the album. Interestingly, ‘Invincible’ was the official theme song of WrestleMania XXVIII and is currently the theme for Thursday Night Football on the NFL network. A little prior to the release of his debut album, MGK self-released a mixtape titled ‘EST 4 Life’, which contained both old and recently recorded material.
In February 2013, MGK came up with the music video for ‘Champions’ which featured Diddy and samples The Diplomats song ‘We are the Champions’. The music video served as a promotional video for his brand new mixtape ‘Black Flag’ which eventually released on June 26, 2013. It had guest appearances from French Montana, Kellin Quinn, Dub-O, Sean McGee and Tezo.
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On January 5, 2015, MGK released the song ‘Till I Die’ which was accompanied with a music video on his VEVO account. A little later, he came up with his remixed version and soon followed it up with his next song, a music video titled ‘A Little More’.
In July, 2015, MGK released a 10-track mixtape titled ‘Fuck It’. It contained songs that didn't make it to the final track list of his second album ‘General Admission’ awaiting release.
MGK’s second studio album ‘General Admission’ was released on October 16, 2015. It debuted at number 4 on the Billboard 200, selling 49,000 copies in its first week. The album also debuted at number one on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.
In the latter half of 2016, MGK released the single "Bad Things". It was a joint single with Camila Cabello, and peaked at number nine on the US Billboard Hot 100.
His other albums include 'Bloom' (2017), 'Hotel Diablo' (2019) and 'Tickets to My Downfall' (2020).
Apart from music apart, MGK has also dabbled in acting. He made his film debut in 2014 in the film ‘Beyond the Lights’. He then starred Showtime comedy drama series ‘Roadies’ as Wesley (aka Wes) in 2016, before being cast in lead roles in ‘Viral’, ‘Punk's Dead: SLC Punk 2’ and ‘Nerve’ in the same year.
In 2018, he portrayed the character of Felix in the Netflix film ‘Bird Box’ and in 2019, he played Tommy Lee in the Netflix film ‘The Dirt’.
Awards & Achievements
MGK’s single ‘Alice in Wonderland’ won him the Best Midwest Artist award at the 2010 Underground Music Awards. It also gained the Best Music Video at the 2010 Ohio Hip-Hop Awards.
In December 2011, MTV announced MGK as the Hottest Breakthrough MC of 2011.
In March, 2012, MGK won the MTVu Breaking Woodie Award.