Compared and contrasted with other popular genres of music, one of Hip Hop’s most polarizing characteristics is its endless array of life perspectives and narratives delivered through rap. Machine Gun Kelly is the prospect of the moment, as he and his Lace Up movement have catalyzed the likes of a career boosting affiliation with Diddy and the notable cosigns of inclusions in both the BET 2011 Hip-Hop Awards cypher and XXL’s 2012 Freshman list. His new EP Half Naked & Almost Famous is at once a refresher course summarizing his most recent output and a preview of his forthcoming full length LP Lace Up.
Following a back catalog replete with tried and true tales of plight along with dedications to deceased and incarcerated friends, Half Naked & Almost Famous is Machine Gun Kelly’s first real retail release. Its five songs include the online viral smash “Wild Boy,” featuring 1017 Brick Squad chieftain Waka Flocka Flame and an updated version of the title track, a contemporary homage to the relentless Midwestern flow (most popularized by Twista) – with its original singer Livvi Franc replaced by Bad Boy labelmate Cassie. 2012 finds the Bad Boy signee ready for the limelight on “Warning Shot,” (once again paired with Cassie). With only five tracks to prove himself, at times MGK’s energetic attitude and aggression are belied by immaturity and an egregious lack of artistic development (“Wild Boy”). One of the EP’s brighter occurrences is the introspective and moving “See My Tears” produced by the always cinematic J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, a relief proving Kelly cognizant of the need for a more thoughtful balance to his hyperactive inclinations. The artificial crunk vapidity of “Est 4 Life” cements the notion that MGK has yet to establish a distinct sound of his own.
Where previously unaware newcomers could find themselves awestruck by Machine Gun Kelly’s star power, Half Naked & Almost Famous comes as no surprise to the Cleveland native’s already accrued widespread loyalists. Despite maintenance of his undeniable following, MGK remains an enigma of sorts as he has yet to carve out a uniquely identifiable persona. With any hopes, gradual maturity will find his own voice flourishing as he takes a bit of creative license emulating his crunk influences at present.