Since starting his musical career in his teens, Machine Gun Kelly enjoyed a rapid rise to fame in the 2010s. What was MGK’s first song?
Machine Gun Kelly’s first single was “Alice in Wonderland”, released in 2010. His first major release after signing with Bad Boy Records was “Wild Boy”, released on September 27, 2011.
For more on Machine Gun Kelly’s background and his early music career, read on.
Richard Colson Baker was born in Houston, Texas on April 22, 1990. Baker’s parents were missionaries and traveled constantly in order to perform their duties.
At various times, Baker lived in Germany and Egypt, in addition to across the United States in Cleveland, Chicago and Denver. Denver became his long-term home after his mother left him and his father.
Baker and his father moved in with an aunt, with his father suffering from depression and unable to find employment. As a child, Baker was frequently bullied by other neighborhood children.
He attended Hamilton Middle School in Denver, a school with an ethnically diverse student body, and began listening to rap while in the sixth grade. His favorite rappers as a child were Eminem, Ludacris, and DMX, and he has cited DMX’s 2001 single “We Right Here” as the song that initiated his interest in hip hop.
Baker’s father left him with his aunt for a period of time and Baker began frequently missing school. When his father returned in 2005, the pair moved to Kuwait but were soon forced back to the United States, settling in Cleveland.
Baker had a daughter, Casie, in July 2008 and has remained on good terms with Casie’s mother, Emma.
While attending Shaker Heights High School in Ohio, Baker met a local T-shirt store owner who also worked as a local music manager. He convinced the man to manage his career and took the name “Machine Gun Kelly” after fans said it suited his impressive rapping speed.
In 2006, MGK created his first mixtape, “Stamp of Approval”, which increased his profile locally and helped him to get bookings at local venues.
By 2009, he was facing serious financial difficulty and was in danger of being evicted from his home. He traveled to the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, and competed in music competitions, becoming the first rapper to win at the Apollo in the process.
MGK created a home studio, which he nicknamed the “Rage Cage”, where he continued recording new music and creating mixtapes. He appeared on “Sucker Free Freestyle” on MTV2, helping him gain further exposure.
He released his second mixtape, “100 Words and Running” in February 2010. Though his music career was gaining momentum, MGK was still unable to pay his rent and took a job at Chipotle before also being kicked out by his father.
MGK’s first nationally released single came in May 2010, when Block Starz Media published “Alice in Wonderland”. The song and its video earned him a number of local awards.
Another mixtape, “Lace Up”, released in November 2010 and featured a song called “Cleveland” which was played frequently at Cavaliers home games, as well as on the city’s radio stations.
This led to MGK being featured in an issue of XXL, a leading hip hop magazine, in 2011. He was approached by Sean “Puff Daddy/Diddy” Combs, who offered him a recording contract with Combs’ Bad Boy Records label.
Bad Boy is closely linked with Interscope Records, meaning MGK would have the opportunity for major label distribution. He signed a contract with Combs’ label and released his first EP, “Half Naked & Almost Famous” on March 20, 2012.
The EP debuted at number 46 on the Billboard 200 albums chart and he continued working on his debut studio album. The album, “Lace Up”, was released on October 9, 2012, and debuted at number 4 on the albums chart.
The album’s lead single, “Wild Boy”, had released a couple of weeks earlier on September 27, 2011 and peaked at number 98 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
Machine Gun Kelly is known for the raw honesty in his lyrics, pointing out that finding money and success in his career does not necessarily mean he is any happier. His difficult upbringing is a frequent source of inspiration in his lyrics, as were his admitted struggles to overcome hard drug addiction.