As fresh as his beats sound, Machine Gun Kelly's "General Admission" (Bad Boy/Interscope) is decidedly old school on pretty much every other level.
Kells reps Cleveland as fiercely as N.W.A. did for Compton or Biggie did for Brooklyn. On the hard-hitting "Till I Die," which he released early to coincide with the Cleveland Cavaliers' run in the NBA Finals, he declares himself "Cleveland for life!" -- a limiting allegiance that many in the current generation of rappers wouldn't do for their own hometowns.
Kelly also shows off a wide variety of rap styles, from the loping, singsong delivery of the rock-tinged "Merry Go Round" to the double-timed, tongue-twisting "Alpha Omega," showing that the comparisons to Eminem are on target. The 25-year-old rapper already has the ability to bounce between dark topics to potential pop hits like the first single "A Little More" featuring Victoria Monet and the powerful "Everyday."
"My family is not the Huxtables," he declares in the uplifting anthem. "I'm just trying to keep my life together without breaking all the rules."
However, as "General Admission" shows, it's Kelly's ability to maneuver within hip-hop's existing boundaries that makes him so dangerous and, ultimately, successful.
THE GRADE B+