Review Summary: Machine Gun Kelly's best effort yet.
Machine Gun Kelly's long awaited mixtape "Black Flag" was released on June 26, 2013. However, almost immediately after it's release MGK stated it is not just a mixtape, but his second album. That decision is up for debate, but I'm going to side with the artist and refer to it as an album. Not normally a fan of MGK, I was skeptical when I first started to listen to the album; and boy was I surprised after listening to the first few tracks.
"Raise The Flag" samples "Shake It Out" by Florence and the Machine and opens up the album with an upbeat, and vivid image of where MGK is from. Next comes "Breaking News" which is a message to Kelly's critics, in the form of a fast paced rap reminiscent of "Chip Off The Block". "Pe$o" follows "Breaking News", while still a good song, it just doesn't compare to the previous tracks. "Black Tuxedo" is one of the first serious tracks to appear on the album, it features Tizo and deals with the concept of MGK's newfound success compared to how life was before it happened. "Mind Of A Stoner" is one of the highlights of the album, Wiz Khalifa is featured on the chorus and brings a certain kind finesse only he could bring.
Sadly, there are a few weak points to the album. Songs like "D&G", "Skate Cans", and "50 [Interlude]" are hard to enjoy. "D&G" has decent lyrics, but the overly repetitive chorus kills the song. "Skate Cans" was one of the first songs from "Black Flag" to be released, which made me further question whether or not the (then labeled) mixtape would be any good. The song is very similar to "Breaking News" in it's fast pace, but lacks the controlled frenzy of the track and as a result, the song is hard to understand and listen to. "50 [Interlude]" features French Montana, and is the worst track on the album. The song is only an interlude, but tries to go further by adding verses by both MGK and French Montana as well as a poorly written, and lazy chorus by MGK; simply put the song is little more than "I got 50 hoes"; it seemed to me that these featured artists didn't do their best to add to the album instead of take away from it. After these three tracks however, the album takes an uphill drive.
Following a terrible (yet humorus) interlude comes "Baddest", which is a love song of sorts, where MGK tries singing on the chorus (he can't sing well, he's a rapper for a reason) about "The baddest b**** in the world". The next track, "Miss Me?" featuring Dub-O, is my favorite track on the album due to the simple yet clever lyrics involved and the overall message of wanting to remembered when your gone. "Street Dreams", another one of my favorites, is about the things MGK has been through and how his tattoos are capable of telling his life story.
The Rise Against cover of "Swing Life Away" featuring Kellin Quinn stands out from the entire album. MGK took an already good song, added his own verses about his life and struggles, and made it into something he can call his own. Many will try to compare this track to the original version, but that wouldn't be possible to do so in a fair manner; as the original was a rock song with different lyrics and themes. The only "cover" part of the song was the chorus (sung by Quinn); which makes the song into more of a sample of the track ("Swing Life Away" by Rise Against) rather than a cover of it.
"Home Soon" is just a song about life on the road and missing home, it has rather simple lyrics and is actually enjoyable to listen to. The final track on the album is "Dark Side Of The Moon". MGK draws inspiration from real life events other than his and raps about the story of a boy from an abusive household that eventually shoots up his school, and then goes on to tell the story about a young girl (in 7th grade) that falls "in love" with a much older man, gets pregnant, then commits suicide out of fear for getting criticized by the public and disappointing her parents. It's a disturbing song, but the fact that things like this actually do happen makes the song even more powerful.
The album goes from good to terrible to fantastic. Personally, I found the album to be a very enjoyable listen. If you enjoy listening to party songs, this isn't your album (with the exception of "Mind Of A Stoner"); however if you like to hear more personal/serious songs, then you'll probably enjoy it. Overral, this is indisputably Machine Gun Kelly's best effort to date.