Machine Gun Kelly’s lyrics de-stigmatize mental health

Mainstream Sellout discusses grief, trauma, and personal experience

MGK’s powerful lyrics encourage discussion around mental health
Credit: 
Amna Rafiq, Graphic

This article discusses mental illness and suicide and may be triggering for some readers. The Canadian Mental Health Association Crisis Line can be reached at 1-800-875-6213.

My therapist once told me to find healing in the things I love. My love for music led me to Machine Gun Kelly and his mental health journey, which has helped me navigate some of my toughest times.

Rapper and singer Colson Baker, otherwise known as Machine Gun Kelly, released his sixth studio album Mainstream Sellout on March 25. The long-anticipated pop-punk sequel to 2020’s Tickets to My Downfall features many truths and realizations about mental health, addiction, and love.

Baker’s break into pop-punk has allowed him to speak to the world about his personal life, never shying away from deep and meaningful lyrics.

In his early days as a rap artist, he released numerous songs which reference his struggles with addiction and familial conflict. As he broke out of rap and explored other genres, Baker’s lyrics shifted from expressing the pain of losing loved ones to his experiences with overdosing on drugs and his time in rehab.

On Mainstream Sellout, Baker references therapy as a way of helping him through his anxiety and depression. In “papercuts” and “twin flame,” Baker admits to attempting suicide and grieves the miscarriage of his child with his fiancé, Megan Fox.

Tickets to My Downfall touched on similar topics, such as dealing with the loss of his father on the song “lonely.” That album’s final track, “play this when I’m gone,” is structured as a suicide note to his then 13-year-old daughter.

Baker uses lyricism to speak to fans about the traumatic and challenging experiences that have been part of his mental health journey. In doing so, he’s contributing to a difficult yet important conversation. He’s helping break stigma around suicide, overdose, and loss.

Music and other art forms are important methods of self-expression. Art allows people to grow and heal when tackling the difficulties of everyday life. It is essential to use music to spread awareness in the growing discussion around mental health today.

Baker’s new album is a perfect example of the increased number of songs that are referencing anxiety and depression, like Julia Michaels’ “Anxiety” andShawn Mendes’ “In My Blood.” These songs all aid in the conversation of mental health awareness.

The evolution of his lyrics coincides with the changes he’s made in his life to better understand his own mental health and its impact on his career and relationships. Baker uses music as an artistic outlet for the emotions and pain he needs to express. 

I’ve been a long-time fan of Machine Gun Kelly and have often found comfort in lyrics of his that address mental health. During some of the most volatile times in my life, I’ve listened to Machine Gun Kelly and felt validated.

Machine Gun Kelly gave me the courage to navigate my own mental health journey through music. I hope his music has done the same for other listeners, too.

The power of Baker’s lyrics extends beyond helping himself—they help fans like me feel heard and understood during their healing process. 

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