Lacing Up

Cleveland rapper MGK signs with Interscope

Machine Gun Kelly has been tearing up Cleveland clubs and mixtapes for the past couple of years. All that hard work has finally paid off in a big-time record deal with Interscope.

The 21-year-old rapper was signed to Intescope's Bad Boy imprint last week and will release his debut album, Lace Up, in early 2012. Fans will note that the album's title is the same as the mixtape that grabbed all the attention in the first place. But MGK — who was born Colson Baker in Houston and moved to Cleveland when he was 14 — says all but two of the tracks are brand new.

"It's sick," he says. "It's game-changing and sonically huge. You'll spazz when you hear it."

MGK's rep has been blowing up all over the place in 2011. He played buzz-worthy shows at both the SXSW and Bamboozle music fests earlier this year, and spent some time hanging around Diddy, who was instrumental in signing the rapper to his Bad Boy label. MGK says the deal has been in the works since December, but the contract was signed only recently. He made the announcement last week with a four-minute online video that featured highlights of his career, including footage from a sold-out show at House of Blues in May.

"Every major label was calling," he says. "But Puff and Jimmy [Iovine, Interscope's chairman] were committed to not touching the brand my team built. And they really appreciated my fans."

MGK's Cleveland crew makes appearances on the album, a taste of which should be available in the next couple weeks. "I'm so excited," he says. "Cleveland is about to be on the map."

Turning the dial: You've probably heard by now that CBS Radio is transforming 92.3 FM into a sports-talk station called The Fan sometime real soon. So how exactly does that change things for Cleveland radio? For one thing, you won't hear "Sabotage" eight times a day. It also means an exodus of listeners: Folks who'd rather hear music — any music — over a bunch of guys complaining about dropped balls will be trolling other parts of the dial.

The station most likely to be rewarded by the change? It would have to be WMMS, since they often share artists (Incubus, Linkin Park) and aesthetics (i.e, heavily tatted white guys with guitars) with 92.3.

Where else is a displaced 92.3 fan free to roam? You're more likely to hear NPR-blessed artists like the Decemberists and Adele on 107.3. And 106.5 The Lake (the "We Play Anything" people) isn't exactly rocking Rage Against the Machine. Either way, the 16 people still listening to terrestrial radio are gonna have to make a decision in a couple weeks.

Mix & match with the KickDrums: A couple months back, the cool-ass local DJ duo the KickDrums released their second Coachella mixtape. Now they've followed it up with a new Lollapalooza mix celebrating Chicago's annual music fest. Lollapalooza 2011: In 45 Minutes includes remixed cuts by some of the festival's performers, including the Kills, Eminem, Ellie Goulding, Cee Lo Green, the Cool Kids, the Joy Formidable, Foo Fighters, and fellow Cleveland native Kid Cudi.

You can download the 45-minute mix for free at

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