Machine Gun Kelly on 'mainstream sellout' success and why he's going back to Rap on his next album

MGK explains why he's putting his pop-punk sound to the side after this tour
Audacy Check In with Machine Gun Kelly
Photo credit Audacy Check In with Machine Gun Kelly
By and , Audacy

Machine Gun Kelly is still a few weeks away from beginning his tour supporting his latest album mainstream sellout, but he’s already looking forward to what’s next.

LISTEN: Machine Gun Kelly joins Kevan Kenney for an Audacy Check In

MGK joined Kevan Kenney on his birthday of all days for a wide-ranging Audacy Check In that touched on a myriad of topics including the criticism he's faced for making pop-punk music, his upcoming movie with MOD SUN, his plans for his next album, and much more.

Their conversation began with MGK’s latest record, mainstream sellout, which recently debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart. Even though he’s had an album go number one before, it’s still a reason to celebrate, right?

“That’s for the fans right there,” MGK said when asked for how he celebrated the record going number one. “They’re owed that. Congratulations are extended to them, that is theirs.”

Although MGK says he “didn’t celebrate this one,” he did put a lot of pressure on himself to deliver a hit record. It still hasn’t kicked in yet, but he knows exactly the moment it will. “I kind of over-pressured myself on it so when it happened, it was kind of surreal and I didn’t know how to take it in,” he said. “It’s seeping in slowly and I think once I hit this tour I’ll really have got the full spectrum of ‘whoa we did it.’ Once I hear everybody singing the songs back is when it’ll sink in with me.”

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Even though he’s had two consecutive number one albums, MGK is still enduring criticism for his decision to move from Hip Hop into the pop-punk world. It’s something that he wasn’t shy about touching on. “When ‘I Think I’m Okay’ came out it still felt like the intimation of me in the pop-punk space wasn’t as feared or controversial yet,” he said.

The reaction to “I Think I’m Okay” was positive, but MGK has thoughts on why he started getting backlash when he made more music like it. “This happens with everybody when they start to become successful in something,” he explained. “Especially in Punk Rock culture, like, you fear the success and we all have gatekeeping moments, or you become [a] victim of the gatekeeping moments.”

He’s well aware of the negative comments that circulate about him online, but says that “the hate is only a small portion of what we see.” He added, “people are so turned on by drama that it’s easy for us to get lost in ‘MGK is so controversial.’”

“I had this realization the other day,” he continued, “I was like, ‘wait, why am I so controversial?’ I thought about it and I was like, ‘oh, cause I like to make music?’ What a weird vendetta to have against someone.”

After Kelly and Kenney shared a good laugh, MGK added, “I’m just doing what I love.”

He continued: “I don’t have a problem being crucified at the cross for that. I’ll take it in order for people to maybe learn a lesson from me that if you just get through it, and you can last through it, that there’s probably a light at the end of the tunnel.”

As their conversation wrapped up, Kenney asked MGK the inevitable question. What’s next? “I’m going to make a Rap album for myself,” he promptly replied. “For no other reason, no point to prove, no chip on my shoulder.”

Kelly has a pretty simple reason for going back to Hip Hop after two pop-punk albums, because he wants to. “If I keep doing things to prove things to people, I’m going to one, drive myself crazy and two, not make a good product,” he said. “I made Tickets and mainstream sellout because I wanted to make them. I need to now also make people miss that sound.”

So what does that timeline look like? “I’m going to do this tour and I’m gonna step into where I left Hotel Diablo and expand on my storytelling as a rapper and find a new innovative sound for the Hip Hop Machine Gun Kelly. That’s where my excitement is and where me as a music archaeologist wants to explore.”

Listen to our full conversation with MGK above, or watch highlights from it below, and pick up tickets to see him on tour this summer here.

WATCH: Audacy Check In with Machine Gun Kelly


Listen to more of your favorite music on Audacy's all-new Punk PartyEmo Kids'80s UndergroundNew Wave Mix Tape'90s and ChillIndustriALT, and ALT Roots stations -- plus check out our talent-hosted Kevan Kenney's Music DiscoveryMegan Holiday's My So Called '90s Playlist, and Scott Lowe on the Go's Post Modern Music Box!

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