In the lone season of Cameron Crowe and JJ Abram’s Roadies, Wes was easily my favorite character. Uncomplicated, no drama, just “guitars, people and coffee” — in that order. When that episode with Halsey came out, I thought, “Hey, this kid is good.” And then episode 8 came, Wes sang Lynrd Skynrd, and I thought, “Okay, legit.” The credits said he is played by actor Colson Baker, from Cleveland, Ohio. Imagine my surprise when I Googled him. He seemed so…mellow.
The first ever MGK song I heard was Wild Boy. Heavy. Intense. Not the kind of jam you listen to when you’re in the back of an Uber on your way to work, wanting to not think about anything. But it was clear that his fans are really into it — and by fans, I mean the sweaty mass of bodies at his sold-out shows. I learn later on that his album “Lace Up” is critically-acclaimed, and that his latest album, “General Admission,” scored No. 1 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.
Then he came out with Bad Things with Camila Cabello, who I would later on find out is (was) a member of Fifth Harmony, a pop girl group all the kids have been talking about, and MGK was everywhere. For weeks, I ignored Bad Things on my Spotify. But on New Year’s Eve, I caved. It was definitely sticky, and I kind of already heard it before thanks to Fastball. Guess what? It’s currently my Uber time song (the last one was The Coronas’ The Long Way).
MGK is and has been easily dismissed as another white rapper following the footsteps of Eminem. To which he had this to say in an interview with Billboard: “Everything I stood for, forever, since the beginning of time, has been about seeing people as humans. Not as man, woman, white, Hispanic, any of that stuff. I’m not here to represent color, I’m here to represent change.” While he has covered Lose Yourself, has done a song with Wiz Khalifa (my favorite MGK song next to Stereo and Invincible; it’s so ’90s), and is represented by Diddy, he’s actually pretty punk rock (I mean, if the tats, tight pants, and dangling on scaffoldings aren’t dead giveaways).
Just a few days ago I attempted to get in touch with MGK via social media. Before the message even sent I already put my phone down because it was close to midnight and he was in Paris for Fashion Week (he’s signed with Wilhelmina) and was most likely too busy (or high) to reply). Before my phone hit my desk I received a notification: “Hopefully this year.” I asked when he’s performing in the Philippines. And there you have it. Inconclusive, but yeah, lace up, Manila.
For new MGK fans, here’s a crash course of sorts to get you on the road to becoming a well-rounded Kells fan:
- He performed with Linkin Park in the Vans 2014 Warped Tour, and was the only hip-hop artist in the roster of punk bands.
2. He has a cover of Rise Against’s Swing Life Away.
3. He can go mellow (like I said, I thought he was), covering the Foo Fighters’ Everlong.
4. He covers Blink 182 in his shows.
5. And then there’s this. Not my favorite mix but his rapping is A+.
6. Slay, Kells. Slay.
7. Here’s Mind of a Stoner.
8. He did an acoustic version of Hold Me Down with Halsey on Roadies.
9. Here he is as Wes singing Simple Man.
10. His feature in Teen Vogue (and L’uomo Vogue). The other “boys” look like babies. These days he’s been wearing Jean Paul Gaultier, Marcelo Burlon, County of Milan, Agi & Sam, and Vivienne Westwood. #mensweardream
11. He was the bad guy in Nerve.
12. GQ did a tour of his tats.
13. Here’s his latest (to date) performance of Bad Things with Camila Cabello.