Cleveland’s Machine Gun Kelly has a special place in his heart reserved for Harlem. It was just three years ago that a 19-year-old MGK graced the historic Apollo Theater, winning back-to-back amateur nights and establishing himself as an MC with a hip-hop meets punk attitude. Fast forward to Bad Boy-signed artist of today, his second appearance uptown at Rucker Park last night was another moment of celebration. In front of a dense crowd of basketball and hip-hop heads, MGK performed a well-received and very loud set. People haven't been that entertained at the Rucker since Kevin Durant scored 66 points there last summer.
Before MGK's mini-concert, the Entertainer’s Basketball Classic game held fans over. Two teams, Posse and Jersey, battled on the court in a duel that made for a highlight reel of crossovers, long-range jumpers, and plenty of fast breaks to the bucket. During the second half of the game, the Wild Boy stepped onto the court to fans chanting “EST!” and his initials. Gradually, a large collective of NYC rappers—Maino, Vado, Fred The Godson, DJ Webstar—showed support for MGK at courtside.
MGK wasted little time after the game ended, immediately taking center court to perform his current single “Invincible.” His energetic and aggressive demeanor was in full force, and any photographer who got too close got shoved: “I came to see my fans. Fuck these cameras.” By the time he brought out his surprise guest Bun B, the scene was fully turned up.
The Trill O.G. dedicated his songs to the late Pimp C, first with his verse from “Get Throwed” and then “Draped Up.” MGK called out Maino and the Brooklyn MC quickly ran through “Let It Fly (Hands In The Air)” and “We Mobbin’” for the Rucker Park audience. MGK took over after and jumped right into the rage-rap anthem “Wild Boy” on top of a speaker before transitioning to the top of a basketball hoop for Waka Flocka Flame’s verse.
To show his appreciation for the Harlem crowd, he also kicked a new freestyle above the rim. The entire set felt like some sort of confirmation that this dude is actually here to stay, despite his ongoing issues with Interscope and the fallout with Yelawolf. “The industry doesn’t want to fuck with me. It’s alright. The streets fuck with the kid,” he explained. If last night was any indication, he's right.
Written By Eric Diep (@E_Diep)