MGK Keeps It Real on Sophomore Album ‘General Admission’ (Review)


Machine Gun Kelly, General Admission © Bad Boy / Interscope

MGK • General Admission Bad Boy / Interscope • Release Date: October 16, 2015  

“Yeah b*tch, yeah b*tch, call me Steve-O…I’m a wild boy, f*ck an eighth I need O’s.” Sigh, those ferocious words gave Cleveland MC Machine Gun Kelly, often referred to as just MGK, a big hit with “Wild Boy”. “Wild Boy” certainly lifted MGK, helping his 2012 debut Lace Up debut at number four on the Billboard 200. After a three-year hiatus, MGK is back with General Admission, an effort where the 25-year old MC has no filter.

“Spotlight” kicks off General Admission. The best way to characterize the opener is it’s mysterious, dark and comprised of a series hypothetical questions. Lzzy Hale adds some mean punch to the hook (“Why should I die? / Why should I kill myself for you/ …You’d let me die inside for you”). On “Alpha Omega” MGK uses the Biblical reference to describe his status in rap; he’s the beginning and end, aka the best. He likens himself to God, which is common in rap circles these days when he spits, “Only fear two things with three letters dawg / that’s G-O-D, God and my f*cking initials.”

“Spotlight” and “Alpha Omega” aren’t bad, but nor are they definitive. “Till I Die” may not necessarily be definitive, but it definitely has bite and gives no apologies. It doesn’t get anymore “Cleveland” than “Till I Die”: “Bumpin’ that Bone Thugs till I die.” “Till I Die” fuels more of a spark on General Admission, evident within standout follow up “Eddie Cane.” Raw, “Eddie Cane” isn’t ‘raw’ just because of the language, but rather the emotion itself: “Eddie Cane, Eddie Cane / five heartbeats left…everybody schemed out / don’t nobody wanna work / I was with him last week / now I got his name on my damn shirt, (R.I.P.).”

“When the line froze, what did I see / a bad mother f*cker standing next to me.” Sigh, the most entertaining song of General Admission comes by way of “Bad Mother F*cker” featuring Detroit rocker Kid Rock. Much like his 2011 collaboration with YelaWolf (“Let’s Roll”), Kid Rock is a perfect match for MGK’s relentless energy (and badass-ness). That energy doesn’t fade on “World Series,” one of General Admission’s single in which MGK goes as hard as ever. Expectedly, MGK ties in his braggadocios rhymes with baseball – “We ball like the Indians at the World Serious 8th inning.”

“Oz.” manages to mix excess and achievement. How – that’s a legitimately good question. Oz. is an abbreviation of ounce, which references marijuana – “EZ Widers + hydroponics / roll one tall as Spike Lee.” However, this isn’t all about weed as Kells brags about his come up, best evidenced on the hook: “Oz. in my pocket, ducking the cops / came from the bottom now I get high at the top.”

Despite being lusher in sound, the dreamily produced “Everyday” still has an edge and grit about it. MGK remains candid, spitting, “I’m facing problems everyday / I can’t solve ‘em everyday / they want the truth everyday / I’m being honest, everyday.” “Gone” (featuring Leroy Sanchez) follows, with MGK showing his most legit vulnerability in regards to his daughter and fulfilling the obligations of fame itself. “Scared to see my daughter now because I’m lost in the life,” he raps on the first verse, “in the bathroom getting high when she called twice / Sorry, but I’m scared to look at something so precious when I’m a mess.” “Story of the Stairs” gives listeners another look into MGK’s life, about his estranged mother. This isn’t the type of track that will get the listener hyped up, but it is the type or record that the listener will respect MGK for making.

“Merry Go Round” is nothing short of depressing and tragic, one of MGK’s deepest tales on General Admission. MGK imparts the tale of a couple who take drugs. Bobby leaves for the army, while his girlfriend becomes addicted, is “messin’ with everybody,” and ends up pregnant. She overdoses before Bobby returns from the army, and upon his return, he finds her dead, sees she was pregnant and commits suicide.

The standard version of General Admission features two more songs. There’s the thoughtful “A Little More” featuring Victoria Monét (“I think we all need a little more love”) and closer, the ‘look how far I’ve come’ “All Night Long.” The deluxe edition adds three more songs: “Make It Happen,” “Round Here,” and “Therapy.”

So how does General Admission stack up? Ultimately, it’s a hard, honest effort from MGK. It’s not without flaws, but there is nothing that could be considered a deal breaker by any means. All in all, MGK gets it done and definitely stays true to himself.

Favorites: “Till I Die,” “Eddie Cane,” “Bad Mother F*cker,” “Gone” and “Merry Go Round”  

★★★½

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