Machine Gun Kelly - Black Flag (Mixtape Review)

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Give Machine Gun Kelly credit for making the whole of "Black Flag" heartfelt, catchy and sincere, but it grows repetitive and tiresome at times.

On Machine Gun Kelly’s latest set of new music, Black Flag, the Cleveland emcee continuously harps on the elements of voice distortions, call-and-response hooks, trap music-centered production, bleak themes of poverty, struggle, being an outsider/misfit, standing on the verge of Rap stardom, self reflection, repping Cleveland, and Midwestern, Bone Thugs/Crucial Conflict-influenced, quick-tongued rhyme delivery. Kelly knows good and damn well that leaning on these strengths is exactly where his bread is buttered. The trouble lies in the fact that he keeps serving listeners the same meal, and it’s growing a little bland.

Keenly attuned to the fact that Hip Hop in the second decade of the 2000s is more single-driven than ever, MGK knows how to deliver a simplistic yet danceable, head-nodding single, as evidence by “Wild Boy” from 2011. The trend continues with the Pusha T and Meek Mill-assisted “Peso.” It offers unaffected piano keys, a sped-up Aloe Blacc Soul sample and an Ace Hood-inspired hook. Meanwhile MGK ponders whether fans will think of him when he’s no longer relevant on “Miss Me,” swoons over aspirations of the pimp life on “50” and seeks to follow in the infamous Cannabis-fueled footsteps of other famous weed heads with Wiz Khalifa on “Mind Of A Stoner.”

The production throughout Black Flag is forcefully dreary and haunting, favoring MGK’s raspy, grating delivery to a T. Like many rappers in the new millennium, Kelly relies more on his outlandish personality and curious charisma than he does lyrical content. At times it serves him well, like on the autobiographical opener “Raise the Flag,” and the piano-lush “D&G” where he angrily spews, “Where I’m from we don’t see designer / Where I’m from we just see dishonor / Where I’m from I don’t see my mama / That bitch left me like Halley’s Comet…”

At other times, it’s a drawback, like on the TrapMoneyBenny-produced “Black Tuxedo,” which comes across with the drudgery and disappointment of lazy, album filler music. And besides “Dark Side of the Moon,” the only place where MGK really seems to challenges his listener by ending on a truly piercing and depressing note with the stories of two young children caught in the crosshairs of burdensome, below-the-poverty-line life, Black Flag pretty much stays in the same proverbially indifferent lane.

You have to give Machine Gun Kelly credit for making the whole of Black Flag heartfelt and sincere, but it trudges along and grows repetitive and tiresome by the time the rap rock mish mash of “Swing Life Away” arrives. There are only so many times you can feel sympathy for MGK’s troubled childhood, bounce along to repeated, repetitious “turned up” refrains and be impressed by recurrent came-from-nothing, rags-to-riches braggadocio. Maybe we shouldn’t expect Machine Gun Kelly to delve too far outside of his comfort zone, but it would be nice for him to take a leap of faith beyond what we’re already painfully well aware of in his music.

DX Consensus: “Just A Mixtape”

RELATED: Machine Gun Kelly "Black Flag" Tracklist, Download & Mixtape Stream

110 Comments

  • Anirudh

    the revolution has begun

  • TKO

    I'm honestly shocked this tape as well as his album "Lace Up" aren't given as much shine as it should, especially by the underground.

  • Ben Shive

    I think that the mixtape was overall very good. I also think that the next time this website does a so-called "review", they should not be so undeniably bias AGAINST the artist that they are reviewing. It is very apparent that the author of this article had something against mgk before even listening to the mixtape. Like seriously?! "The production throughout Black Flag is forcefully dreary and haunting." Are you kidding me? Barely any of the mixtape is dreary, and the only parts that are dreary are meant to be for a purpose. Oh, and how the hell is a mixtape forcefully haunting? This sentence was clearly thrown in there just to make MGK and his mixtape sound bad. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not just a butt-hurt mgk fan. I actually have only been listening to mgk for a little bit now and am definitely becoming a fan. However, I can determine if a review is completely bias or not.

  • luke

    Fuck thia sight mgk is the best

  • Paul

    Great mixtape.. Absolutely beast...

  • MachineGunKellyLover

    His album is BAD ASS!!!!!!!! So all you haters can STFU!!!!!!! I bet half of you who are hating have never even at least listen to the Goddamn album!!!!!!! Ur just judging cuz he's white he worked,his ass off!!!!! And he's the best white rapper out there!!!!!! (Well he's not better than eminem but he's a close 3 or 4) he went through stuff that nun of y'all have from being homeless to even having to beg McDonalds to give him free food cuz him and his daughter was starving he deserves everything he got he shouldn't be judged cuz the color of his skin but cuz of his lyrical abilities which is by far the best i've ever seen so LISTEN TO THE MUTHAFUKKIN ALBUM BEFORE YOU JUDGE!!!!!!!!! And FUCK ALL,YOU HATERS!!!!!!!!!

  • monica

    fuck you, you hater!!!

  • Wayne1017

    Great mixtape. Horrible review he seems bias on MGK this was a great tape

  • Hanna

    This review has to be the stupidest piece of shit I have ever read. It must have been an ignorant MUTHAFUCKA (as MGK would say) who wrote it. Who are you to say that the most real lyrics ever written on an album are repetitive? He is the most REAL artist out there in this time and age. If you missed the whole fucking memo about him releasing the album for FREE, you'd know he did this out of love for his fans and his music! He could of easily sold it just like his Lace Up album. For all the hyprocrits out there bashing on MGK, ya'll can go hide under a rock because when he finally gets recognized for the music he puts out, all of ya'll are going to look like some stupid and jealous bitches! LACE THE FUCK UP !

  • LOL

    Save the white rapper... MGK gets voted off the island first before El P, Yelawolf, Alchemist (yes he raps) and Eminem.

  • Honestly...

    This guy claims to be hard on the mic but you can tell he'll cry like a little bitch when shit gets real. you can tell... and if you can't you will probably hate on this comment and claim he is great. He's talking the talk that he can't walk (and hasn't walked), this is the only reason he's not rising to the top fast cause its no doubt the kid can rhyme

  • Tami Lacoste

    Basically what this ingrate is saying is that Kells needs to instead of "repetitively" speaking real shit and creating music to save lives and inspire souls he needs to "come out of his comfort zone" and talk about nothing but money, parties & hoes. Correct? But when people are repetitively rapping about bitches & money it's not repetitive it's "catchy" and a "club banger". How about we stop finding ignorant ways to keep him down and realize this is obviously what people WANT TO HEAR. And ummmmm.... LACE THE FUCK UP!!

  • Gabrielle

    Honestly, this review is the biggest piece of shit anyone could have ever written. Before I waste my entire day explaining to you why you are the epitome of a mother fucking grave digging nested bitch, I'll simply tell your reviewing ass that black flag IS the most heartfelt and IS the BEST album of 2013 and so be it.

  • Moica Ridle

    You really dont know your job very well.. Ask his FANS what they think of Black Flag.. It is amazing!! The only think wrong with it is was that it wasnt 5 hours long!! LTFU!

  • Anonymous

    Ronald Grant, you are an absolute buffoon. Thank you for demonstrating true ignorance.

  • Now a fan

    This is a great mixtape I see the beginnings of a kid that is going to grow to be a true MC in the future. Right Now I see a great rapper, who's improving at a really high rate; Now he's just has to stop making songs like black tuxedo and 50, then he'll get more people to recognize his lyrical skills.

  • Kendrickfan

    I liked it a lot,Hip Hop dx really did a bad review on this one, made it sound like the dudes mixtape was whack but really it wasn't nearly as bad as they made it sound. It was really really good actually

  • Black Box

    TO all the people mgk sucks did you hear this mixtape and then speak on it, or hear any mgk song and commented on this or did you come see hid name and decided to come on this the white rap that looks more like a metal artist, this mixtape is fire, only two songs actually sucked (black tux, and 50); that's why I give it an 4.5, but i know this caused i actually listened.

  • :0

    People who don't know shit saying this is whack should shot. DX said he gets repetitive yet, songs like home soon, dark side of the the moon, breaking news, miss me, skate cans, and mind of a stoner don't share the same themes has rasie the flag, street dreams, swing life away, D&G and they sure as hell don't have they same themes as 50, baddest and peso. I fell like hip hop dx skipped around the mixtape and not listen to it straight threw.

  • shady45

    this review is terrible. mgk is one of the most lyrical rappers out there. you dont think lil wayne raps about the same content repeatedly in all of his songs?

  • banannaz

    http://www.hulkshare.com/Banannaz Production Credits: Red Cafe, Chinx Drugz, Kid Ink & More...... ...

  • banannaz

    http://www.hulkshare.com/Banannaz Production Credits: Red Cafe, Chinx Drugz, Kid Ink & More......

  • Daniel

    I don't know how people can say this is a bad album and he is a bad artist. He's amazing and talented! LTFU

  • pickle

    this is a little harsh but pretty accurate review this is why I like dx reviews hes honest but gives constructive criticism at the end hopefully mgk wont get hurt feelings over reviews like this like a lot of his fans obviously have and actually take what they say to consideration and like dx suggest go outside his comfort zone I love mgk but I have to say grilled cheese with no ham...that's not cutting it for me

  • Anonymous

    this is bad mgk should stick to his day job

  • victoria

    phenomenal. very impressive.

  • Mary

    this is awesome stuff!!!! he is the greatest!!!

  • Lacedup

    His best work yet

  • misa

    mgk is great no matter what

  • Christian

    The only reason i'm writing this comment is to tell you you suck at writing reviews

  • Claire

    MGK has really done it this time! This is probably my favorite album of his.

  • Odin

    Album of the year. Lace Up. Black Flag! 5 Stars

    • Jeff

      Man if you think Machine Gun Kelly made the best album of the year, you seriously need to broaden your listening horizons. I don't want to burst your bubble but MGK is fucking awful and a complete joke.

  • Anonymous

    he's actualy friend with pornstar nikki benz

    • pickle

      that's the only way he will be able to have a real relation ship with a girl is dating a pornstar any average girl that's not a fangirl wouldn't stay with him because he fucks so many damn girls hes gotta find a pornstar theyre the only ones on his level lol

  • carlos

    Perfect. Five stars.

  • Anonymous

    this doesn't even feel like a mixtape but an album , kudos for MGK on this one , 5 stars

  • Dylann17

    This is a really nice tape. MGK is impressing me. 5 Stars.

  • patrick

    I couldn't even finish the review it seemed biased from the start. Great mixtape. Great artist.

  • Anonymous

    Year of B.Hudson. New Eps every month July out now. www. bhudsonmusic .com

  • Anonymous

    New Jay Z Magna Carta Holy Grail go get it www. hiphopgood .com

  • Dime a Dozen

    5 white rappers far better than MGK Action Bronson R.A The Rugged Man Diabolic Rittz Eminem I could keep going

    • Dude above me is stupid

      Action bronson is whack they only reason people act like he's good is cause he's gets mad industry love so does rittz, like come on their not that nice. Kells has real stories, packed with great lyrics, crazy flow. You have never heard his shit if you think action is better, dumbass.

    • Anonymous

      el-p aesop rock

  • sean grace

    Very very good. Loved mind of a stoner swing life away and baddest

  • Melissa Sue

    i know good music and MGK is that.

  • Melissa Sue

    I personally anticiapted the album and it was exactly what i exepected and I absolutely love it. I think it deserves more credit

  • Steven

    I agree about the black tuxedo song "grilled cheese with no ham" come on Kells but other than that this mixtape was off the hook I drive around all day listening to that shit

  • Parkinson

    I like MGK so please don't label me as a straight hater as I know MGK fans are very aggressive with anything not positive about their idol. However I just didn't like the feel of it, it's ok talking about fucking bitches and living the life but then to have a track about tryna make it make it's very hypocritical if that makes sense? Lyrically as well I wasn't feeling it, I loved lace up maybe because it sounded more professional and generally had emotion.

  • hater

    dude sucks, go listen to Run The Jewels

  • Gun dem up

    Who dis wigger hes wack

  • Real rap lives here

    Thought dude was whack before listening to his music, finally gave him a chance and i don't regret it at all.

  • 1990's hip hop

    not a big mgk fan but, damn this mixtape changed my mind dude is good.

  • Anonymous

    oh my god what an ugly dude with his fucked up tatoos

  • MGK AINT ABOUT A DOLLA

    I cant get jiggy to this shit

  • Michelle

    While I appreciate the comments, the fans disagree...MGK is letting us into his life through his songs. Eminem's controversial confrontations are what made him famous and when he started rapping about real life and strife and struggle (meaning his Recovery album) it got criticized. Shallow minds love to live in their little bubble

  • Niglet please

    This for soft I hate my mom type kids

  • dan

    such a dope album kells never fails lace the fuck up est 4 life

  • Bee

    Decent, but far from great.

  • Shalon

    Oh, MGK's lyrics are whack and repetitive? Meanwhile every other fucking mainstream rapper on the radio sings about the exact same shit and it's good? Kinda biased.

  • Gianni

    I love this Album! lace the fuck up!

  • Light that piff

    MGK fans really stan hard for him truth is hes just not very good. And he comes off real corny

    • Spellchecker

      By reading your comment I can tell you didn't pay attention during school 'Corney'

    • :0

      By saying he comes off as Corney I could tell you didn't listen to his song on this mixtape or any song of his at all.

  • mike

    black flag is a dope album

  • Jazmine Lopez

    Are you a fucking idiot or? Did you not listen to Black Flag at all? This is an ignorant comment.

  • Strap the fuck up

    I don't fuck with corny mcs

  • Cristina

    This album is more than just MGK speaking on the troubles in his life. This is him dissecting them on a whole other level. Lace up to Black Flag exhibits his growth lyrically and as a person. He is angry but it drives his hunger not lashing out. Breaking news demonstrates that greatly. Dark side of the moon paints a picture that not many rappers touch on anymore , dealing with the hardships many teenagers face to this day. Swing life away is an amazing cover and collaboration that pays homage to the original still keeping it rock but holding true to rap. Mind of a stoner will be the song you can never forget because its that damn catchy and with some lines being automatically stuck in your mind. Miss me once again displays the raw hunger him and his camp are trying to show. Baddest pays homage to the women that have entered his life and made an impact. Raise the flag is there Psa to the music industry. There are many more songs on this album that will slowly enter your ears and hearts and catch you unexpectedly. You say he's one note I say give him a topic and watch him go. Many of his fans may display this same hunger trying to get you guys to see that machine gun Kelly should be mentioned more. He should be on your award shows , on your tv screens , in your magazines and in your ears. Him and his team are hungry so give them room or they will make it themselves.

  • Anonymous

    fuck the haters this tape is dope

  • Taylor

    Black Flag is more than just a mixtape. It's an album. A wake up call for everyone "sleeping on" MGK. He is a lyricist. His lyrics have mutiple meanings that actually make sense. His delivery is clean, and you get to know who he is as he spits. There are so many stlyes presented on this mixtape that every audience can find a piece to relate to. Get with it.

  • elle

    I can understand where people comment on repetitiveness, but in the same aspect look at rappers like Juicy J that sing on booze, strippers, and getting high in his Louis Vuitton sneakers and sells out shows. I like the rawness of MGK. Music is an outlet, if he speaks on darker things, then so be it. Rise Against is also one of my favorite bands, when I heard the mash up of Swing, I also lost it bc I was so happy. I feel like it's always easy to sit back and rip someones work to pieces.

  • PeterPepper

    LOL. I am equally amused by the haters and the fans. To the fans, yes, this is a nice tape and it speaks to all of the themes that made you a fan in the first place. To the haters, this is a well written and well produced album, which is worthy in that regard even if you can't f*ck with the tracks. I fall further on the "fan" side just because I like MGK as a person from what I have seen, and much of his music speaks to me, but I understand the review and respect that Dx does not blow smoke. They try to be honest and write a collective review that gives their opinion. But really, Haters on both sides of the line need to jump off.

  • Hang urself with them laces

    Not the worst mc around but he just comes off as a really corny poser wigger trying to rebel. No interest in his raps his parents were religious missionary's traveling the world not like he was raised in a meth house fuck is this struggle he whines about

    • Hang you self is wrong

      His parents were missionaries but that was early on in life before is mother left him and his dad became a drunk, and they had to keep moving around because they were poor, and it's before they finally settled in Cleveland.

  • john

    You think MGK gives a fuck what ur opinion is? No, he did this for the fans not you worthless music critics. The fans love this tape so LTFU

  • idkmyname222

    LOVEEE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS MIXTAPE

  • BR33z3

    Review seems a bit harsh. I could do without Peso and 50 and D & G. Not my taste. I enjoyed most of the other tracks though, and appreciated the originality of the coss-overs -- Skate Cans, Swing Life. Dark Side is haunting and incredibly well done. Raise the Flag and Breaking News are fun listens, and I like the Wiz collab as a summer song. I agree that some of the themes are getting time-worn, but his fans don't seem to mind. Will be interested to see whether this brings any new fans into his camp -- seems to be hitting on a lot of different styles.

  • Twinpeaks

    Songs like raise the flag, street dreams, miss me, home soon, dark side of the moon are amazing; on the other hand, songs like 50 and black tuxedo are bad and should not have made the mixtape at all. Most of all though it's lyrically above his other works, shows he's working on improving his lyrical ability and his story telling. P.s- love the instrumentation on a lot of these shows a guy who is well versed and has a love for music/ all music.

  • JAL

    This Mixtape was actually really good when i sat down to actually listen to it

  • Piccolo

    Love this mixtape, lyrically one of his best.

  • TheeGinn

    MGK is dope, it's a solid mixtape but I was expecting a little more I guess.

  • nah son sentra

    nice kid, but nah tho.