MGK is not the first Cleveland artist to be signed to Bad Boy. His label mate and fellow Shaker Heights grad Cheri Dennis has been collecting dust on the Bad Boy shelves since she signed with them a decade ago.It has been said that since the days of Biggie, Bad Boy has been the label where talent has gone to perish (Shyne, Carl Thomas, Da Band, Danity Kane and those guys who were in the group with Jeezy before he took off on Def Jam and left them behind). Well we’ve got our fingers crossed that this is not the case for MGK.
By FELICIA C. HANEY
Twitter was all abuzz yesterday as the news came across that Cleveland rapper Machine Gun Kelly, or simply MGK, had inked a deal with Sean “Diddy” Combs’ Bad Boy record label. The mogul has been tweeting about him for a few months now following the rapper’s SXSW performance in Austin, Texas but finally made it official in a statement yesterday on RapFix Live. “Yes, I signed MGK,” was the verbal confirmation Diddy gave. “This kid, I think he’s a star. He’s one of the best live performers I’ve ever seen to come out in a minute.”
Highly recognizable as the tatted White boy who looks more like a rocker than a rapper, his sore thumb persona has certainly proved that he can not only stick out, but leave a lasting impression. MGK has been “lacing up” for an opportunity of this magnitude releasing a plethora of material and two classic mixtapes, “100 Words and Running” and “Lace Up” throughout the past few years. But now it appears that his level of dedication, mixed with high energy live performances has finally paid off with a two-album deal.
“We had a bidding war before he came in, but Puff is Puff,” MGK said of his signing. “Honestly, I really want to treasure this almost-famous stage as much as we can, while we still can. It’s crazy, because Ohio is one thing; we have this great hometown love. We’ll do 4,000 in one show, but then we just did Texas and it was probably 60 to 100 people, still doin’ holes in the wall, and it’s so cool.”
Hopefully those numbers are sure to change after MGK drops his debut album, also called “Lace Up,” set for release in the first quarter of 2012. “No push-backs with us, baby,” he assured. “Not happening. The fans are not allowing that to go down.”
Speaking of push-backs, MGK is not the first Cleveland artist to be signed to Bad Boy. His label mate and fellow Shaker Heights grad Cheri Dennis has been collecting dust on the Bad Boy shelves since she signed with them a decade ago. Maybe their Cleveland connection will call for Dennis to lend her skills to an MGK track, tour or at least a video cameo, sheesh! It has been said that since the days of Biggie, Bad Boy has been the label where talent has gone to perish (Shyne, Carl Thomas, Da Band, Danity Kane and those guys who were in the group with Jeezy before he took off on Def Jam and left them behind). Well we’ve got our fingers crossed that this is not the case for MGK.
According to Diddy there’s no cookie cutting going on in the Bad Boy offices and MGK is free to carve out his on niche. “One of the things as an executive and someone that runs a record company is that I change so much as far as my respect for artists whether they succeed or fail. I think it's important to empower the artist,” Diddy said. “He will not be changing for Bad Boy; he will not have a typical Bad Boy swag. He’s not going to be popping champagne or driving around in Bentleys. He’s gonna be him and true to himself. He has a lot of creative control in his project.”
Below is the official press release issued by Bad Boy/Interscope Records:
SANTA MONICA, Calif., Aug. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — MGK, the rising rapid-fire rapper from Cleveland who became the first MC in history to win the famed Amateur Night competition at the Apollo, has been signed to Bad Boy/Interscope Records. Information about his forthcoming debut album, Lace Up, will be announced in the near future. MGK has continuously impressed with his exciting and exhilarating live performances at SXSW and Bamboozled, as well as on the Warped and Lil Wayne tours, just to name a few. Far more than a rapper, he is quickly becoming the voice of a new generation as he attracts new fans with each show.
“The moment we started the EST 19XX movement during the recording of the Lace Up mixtape, I made a pledge to my fans to protect our brand and become the honest voice of our generation,” said MGK. ”We represent the underdogs, the outcast, the uncool. We are a true cult with a loud voice.”
MGK first caught the attention of Bad Boy Entertainment CEO Sean “Diddy” Combs thanks to his online viral videos, including those of his memorable showcases at SXSW. The excitement grew after Combs heard mixtapes from MGK –especially Lace Up–and also MGK’s personal story, which had cultivated a devoted fan following.
“MGK is a breath of fresh air,” said Combs. ”He’s not just a star, he’s a movement!” Added Harve Pierre, President of Bad Boy: “MGK is a great addition to the Bad Boy team. He speaks for a generation of kids who are just like him. Fans relate immediately to his lyrics, his flow and his energetic live performances.”
Penning rhymes about personal issues from addiction to family, MGK has become a symbol of relentless perseverance for his fans. Hailing from a broken home and having lived in nearly a dozen cities, MGK found hope in rap while in a Denver high school. He later attended high school in Cleveland, where he built a local following through his heartfelt lyrics, passionate performances and the release of his first mixtape, Stamp Of Approval.
After graduation, the 18-year-old MGK was forced to fend not only for himself but for a child. His daughter Casie gave him new incentive to work even harder. A trip to New York’s famed Apollo Theater in 2009–he won twice–truly launched his career. The mixtapes 100 Words And Running and Lace Up landed shortly thereafter. The MC’s catchphrase of “Lace up,” which began as a mixtape interlude, became a call to arms for fans. Earning Best Midwest Artist at the 2010 Underground Music Awards, his “Alice In Wonderland” clip then won Best Music Video at the 2010 Ohio Hip-Hop Awards, where MGK has nabbed Best Live Performer two years in a row.
MGK states, “We decided to partner with Bad Boy/Interscope because they understood our idea and the importance of keeping our integrity. They want to give us their resources to help share our vision with the rest of the world. This is not about mainstream success. EST 19XX represents a cultural shift, a worldwide revolution. Lace the F*@* Up!!!!”