On his third studio album, bloom, Machine Gun Kelly balances tougher rhymes and kinder, gentler pop-rapping.
On his third studio album, bloom, Cleveland-bred rapper Machine Gun Kelly tweaks his approach. Part of bloom finds him dropping more pop-oriented rap joints. The other part finds him being hard-nosed and tough, as we’re accustomed to. Ultimately, bloom is enjoyable, if imperfect.
“The Gunner” kicks things off with energy and toughness, featuring malicious production work, led by big drums and a memorable piano loop. It lacks transcendence, but is chocked full of confidence. Likewise, “Wake + Bake” is devoid of depth, with its sole substance being weed. “Go for Broke” is more memorable, featuring James Arthur. It’s enjoyable, but a bit clunky, particularly the chorus. Arthur gives a solid performance, with his best moments being his falsetto on the chorus, as well as the harmonized vocals on the bridge. MGK raps about his come up.
“At My Best”
“At My Best” featuring Hailee Steinfeld is soundly produced, fusing elements of pop and rap. This is pop-rap, but Machine Gun Kelly retains his toughness – he musters up grit with unpitched rhymes. The message is a selling point, as MGK uplifts, rapping with the utmost prudence. Steinfeld shines on the uplifting hook:
“I shout, I swear, I get angry, I get scared / I fall, I break, I mess up, I make mistakes / But if you can’t take me at my worst / You don’t deserve me at my best.”
“Kiss the Sky” doesn’t supplant “At My Best,” but is undoubtedly pleasant. Machine Gun Kelly is cockier on “Golden God,” where he proclaims he’s a god. “Golden God” gives the listener more glorious piano lines, and that’s winning.
“Trap Paris,” featuring Quavo and Ty Dolla $ign, covers how far the respective artists have come. Machine Gun Kelly references his sexcapades, but most notably, he represents for Cleveland, AGAIN. Ty Dolla $ign delivers the chorus, with his signature, raspy vocals. Quavo, like MGK, raps about coming up. “Trap Paris” is enjoyable, but not the second coming. “Moonwalkers” featuring DUBXX lifts the spirit of a signature Michael Jackson move. However, the spirit that is the driving force is weed. Ultimately, it’s about the lifestyle that Machine Gun Kelly is living.
“Can’t Walk” ranks among the crème de la crème of bloom. It is among the few moments where shallowness bodes well in MGK’s favor. The hook is successful, using a spoken word approach in which Machine Gun Kelly sounds tortured by his demons.
“Y’all can’t see my eyes behind these shades…/ I been f***ed up for the last two days straight / I been f***ed up for the last two days, dog / And I can’t walk, and I can’t walk…”
Adding to the success is epic production work, namely the synths and the hard-hitting drums. “Can’t Walk” sounds like it has a rock sensibility. This plays to the rapper’s strengths, as MGK has always possessed the swagger of rock star.
“Bad Things” featuring Camila Cabello may have lost a bit of its luster, but still packs a punch, ranking right alongside the elite on bloom. Simply put, it’s a gift to pop radio, as well as a gift to Machine Gun Kelly. Fans of MGK’s tough, Cleveland flow may write off “Bad Things,” but those less invested in him may give the MC a second look (or first). As for Cabello, she’s exceptional here, exhibiting a radiant vocal tone, bursting with youth.
The premise of “Rehab” is rekindling old flames. Like many songs from bloom, MGK references drugs and getting help via rehab for drugs. In his eyes, however, no rehab is necessarily in their relationship. “Let You Go” continues to explore relationships, with so-so results. “27” finds the 27-year old exploring and reflect on his 27th year of life.
All in all, Machine Gun Kelly delivers a good album with bloom. Is bloom a great album? No. There are both good and great moments. Furthermore, there are no outright, horrid moments or songs. Still, as whole, the project itself isn’t fully bloomed. This isn’t album folks will be discussing a year from now, let alone several years.
Gems: “At My Best,” “Trap Paris,” “Can’t Walk,” “Bad Things” & “Rehab”
Machine Gun Kelly • bloom • Bad Boy / Interscope • Release: 5.12.17
Photo Credit: Bad Boy / Interscope
To read full-fledged analysis of bloom, check out my extended review on The Musical Hype.