Machine Gun Kelly might be the artist sparking the most controversial discussion in the world of modern hip-hop.
His fourth full-length album – Hotel Diablo came at the right time and proved the undeniable capabilities of the artist. A blend of sick beats, hard-rock instrumentals, flawless flow, and highest quality lyrical content is used to present a well-thought concept that takes listeners to the darkest corners of The Gunner‘s mind.
Whether you are a lover or a hater when it comes to this particular artist you cannot, in your right mind, deny his powerful contribution to the world of hip-hop. Hotel Diablo is just another proof of his hard work and dedication so I feel obliged to take a closer look.
I’d like to be remembered as having walked my own path and created something new, rather than following in someone’s footsteps.
The discography of Machine Gun Kelly is impressively diverse. The artist doesn’t hesitate to talk about absolutely anything occupying his mind – past traumas, love-related struggles, existential problems, guilty pleasures, or the need to prove himself for the hundredth time – he feels it, he says it. And he says it in a way which gives modern rap a sense of class.
Regardless of your opinion about the artist, I think it’s undeniable he has contributed to the development of the hip-hop genre in many ways. Starting with his introduction to full live bands during concerts to his innovative incorporation of heavy rock instrumentals to old-school hip-hop beats – genres are nothing but a blur in MGK‘s world.
Another example why rock and hip-hop can go hand in hand perfectly well
For me personally, Hotel Diablo is a great bounce back from the slight negligence and superficiality of the EP Binge.
Machine Gun Kelly has always been transparent and open for his traumas and struggles but I feel Hotel Diablo was deeper than the artist has ever allowed us to enter before. It features shocking confessions and raw acceptance of vulnerability which will most likely send chills down your spine.
The conceptual exploration of The Gunner‘s mind also goes beyond just vulnerability and shows his vicious side in tracks like El Diablo, Floor 13, and Roulette which contribute to the diverse tracklist and exciting overall listening experience.
Beginnings are a fundamental element for a full-length album and the one in Hotel Diablo sets the stage the right way. The alluring intro relies on exciting instrumental build-up and Cara Delevingne‘s simple but powerful invitation – “welcome to Hotel Diablo” supported by the occasional signs (“come and find yourself”) that the check-in will be a self-reflective journey of the highest calibre.
Self-exploration proves to be the essence of the record. The vulnerable and emotionally exhausted side of the artist takes the spotlight in various ways. Tracks like Hollywood Whore, Glass House, Burning Memories, Death In My Pocket, Waste Love, 5:3666, and closing act I Think I’m Okay featuring the legendary YUNGBLUD and Travis Barker explore different burdens occupying MGK in an impactful manner.
A beautiful tribute to Chester Bennington and Linkin Park is included in this sincere and raw masterpiece
Hollywood Whore, for example, illustrates the disgustingly unfair side of the music business bringing back the vibes of Macklemore’s Jimmy Iovine in a bittersweet way. The song removes any filters and brutally exposes the manipulations artists have to overcome in order to bring their art to the public.
MGK‘s personal experience with the delay of this very album is included as an example. Anger and bottled up emotions are exposed in a burst of disappointment, frustration, and aggressive remarks which the artist miraculously makes work in unison.
I find it important to point out Naomi Wild’s indispensable role for the emotional effect of this song
Glass House is one of the most hard-hitting pieces as it expresses MGK‘s pain for the passing of his close friends and/or talented artists who have made a significant difference in the world of music.
Lil Peep, Chester Bennington, Mac Miller, Nipsey Hussle are mentioned amongst others to highlight the incredible losses our world has suffered and gently hint about the mental health issues circulating amongst all of us. MGK admits those thoughts have been haunting his mind as well in one of the most chilling verses on Hotel Diablo.
I put my daughter to bed, then attempted to kill myself in the kitchen
Yeah, I should’ve screamed, but nobody listened
So I passed out with the blood drippin’
Burning Memories has a similar tone. It shows the artist ventilating from self-destructive thoughts, trying to keep going after all the hardships dragging him down.
The song is a great example of old-school storytelling hip-hop which uses MGK‘s personal life and how he came to terms with reality amidst all complications as a source of inspiration.
A similar way of delivery is spotted in Death In My Pocket, dealing with another part of MGK‘s turbulent life. Overcoming more pain and exploring his relationship with his aunt mixed in with regret about past choice are the highlights of the song served on emotional instrumental and beat composition.
Waste Love and 5:3666 follow the pattern of deep personal reflection and point the attention towards romantic relationships, wasted opportunities, regretful choices, family, and love.
The final hit is served with I Think I’m Okay which utilizes untamed punk-rock energy provided by Yungblud and fast-paced drumming by Travis Barker. Explosive and empowering in a strange way the song manifests everyday battles many of us have to fight in a playful way which is the best possible conclusion for Hotel Diablo.
The emotional overflow might be too big if all of those tracks were lined up one after the other. Maybe this is the reason MGK decided to mix them up with playful interludes fitting the thematic of the album and songs with a different focus to spice things up.
The Trippie Redd collab Candy brings back the Binge vibes and the wild side of The Gunner with a catchy structure and addictive chorus.
The confident aspect of MGK is not left behind as well.
El Diablo, Floor 13, and Roulette are some of the artist’s most explosive and badass pieces featuring bold, provocative statements and confident claim of the respect he deserves.
MGK discards negativity and clearly manifests his intentions to keep doing what he does best. Aggressive diss verses and smart wordplay are added to the structure of those tracks to make the message clear and remind listeners for all the hard-earned victories the artist has achieved.
Great flow and delivery are an indispensable part of his repertoire and are not missing once again.
I find Hotel Diablo Machine Gun Kelly‘s best work yet and a beautiful demonstration of his neverending passion, progress, and attitude.
Genres keep becoming more and more insignificant for the artist and innovative elements are added to elevate modern hip-hop to a whole new level.
The combination of deep personal reflection and vulnerable exposure with confident, badass determination is something not many artists can make work so smoothly but The Gunner has proved himself once again. Looking forward to his next project and moves as I am sure it will be a sight to see regardless of the direction he takes.
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