Review: MGK embraces the hate with “Mainstream Sellout”

Ayron Rutan, Columnist

Multi-faceted rapper-turned-pop punk prince Colson Baker, AKA Machine Gun Kelly, has dropped his sixth full-length LP “Mainstream Sellout,” a declaration of self-hate that pokes fun at critics. 

Ever since “Tickets to My Downfall” was released to the masses in September of 2020, MGK has received loads of both love and hate, as rock fans are divided on the authenticity of the Cleveland native’s new sound. While some embrace it as the new direction for pop punk, others label him a sellout, the latter of which is acknowledged and embraced on this new record. 

The album kicks off with the ferocious “born with horns”, a two-part track that MGK uses to tell the world that he doesn’t care if he’s unconventional and about what others want him to be. Lines like “Yeah, I’d rather be a freak than somebody’s puppet/Release your leash, I don’t belong in the circus” communicate that he’s aware of the hate gatekeepers have for him and he’d rather be an outcast than what he’s “supposed to be”. 

This theme of flipping the bird to critics continues on the record’s title track, where its chorus echoes their negative sentiment: “Leave the scene you’re ruining it/Leave the scene you’re ruining it/You sold out and it makes me sick”. It’s clear MGK has heard the feedback, and rather than letting it get to him, he welcomes it with open arms only to throw it back in the face of gatekeepers everywhere. 

While this theme of accepting and embracing hate is an admirable one, I find that it grows stale as the tracklist progresses. Songs like “maybe,” “ay!” and “die in california” show MGK in a more introspective state, but it doesn’t go much deeper than the surface level “I suck” comments littered all over the album. Mixed with pointless duds like “drug dealer,” “god save me” and the cringe-inducing “emo girl,” the album starts to feel like a lazy attempt at recreating the same sound from “Tickets to My Downfall.” 

The album’s crown jewel in my eyes is its closer “twin flame,” a triumphant love letter to Kelly’s finance Megan Fox that expands and intensifies the emotion of his previous album’s closer “play this when i’m gone.” The beautifully honest expression of feeling undeserving of someone’s love is something that I’m sure many young hopeless romantics can relate to. 

All that being said, “Mainstream Sellout” is a great album for surface-level listeners. Its catchy choruses and fast instrumentals create an infectious sound perfect for jamming out while in the car with friends. Features from hip-hop mainstays like Lil Wayne, Gunna and Young Thug give it a mainstream appeal while Travis Barker’s drumming and a feature from Bring Me The Horizon’s Oli Sykes give rock fans something to look forward to.