Riot Fest, the annual weekend of rock and rap nostalgia in Chicago, closed things out Sunday with a generational clash of headliners: metal lifers Slipknot and newly minted pop-punker Machine Gun Kelly. And between running through songs off his 2020 album Tickets to My Downfall on September 19, Kelly took that billing as a chance to lob a few shots at the band across the festival grounds. Early into his set, he asked the crew to light the crowd. “Let me see who chose to be here instead of with all the old weird dudes with masks,” MGK said — referring of course to Slipknot, who perform in clown and horror masks. Later in the set, he goaded the band again. “You wanna know what I’m really happy that I’m not doing?” he said. “Being 50 years old, wearing a fuckin’ weird mask on a fuckin’ stage.” As many have noted on Twitter, 31-year-old Kelly himself is known for his many tattoos, bold nail designs, and once even sporting a black tongue. But okay!
Although he has a proclivity for starting beef unprompted, MGK’s feud with Slipknot may actually have a bit of history. As Clash Music noted, Slipknot singer Corey Taylor (who’s only 47) appeared to diss Kelly on a podcast last year, referring to “the artists who failed in one genre and decided to go rock, and I think he knows who he is.” If he didn’t then, he sure does now! But Kelly also told the Riot Fest crowd he’d been having “full moon mood swings” that night, so that could always be to blame here too.
Update, September 21: Kelly and Taylor have taken the feud to Twitter. “Very odd that when an artist talks shit, and i respond, i’m the bad guy,” Kelly tweeted on September 20. “Corey did a verse for a song on tickets to my downfall album, it was fucking terrible, so i didn’t use it,” he added in another tweet, calling Taylor “bitter.”
But Taylor replied with #receipts, tweeting screenshots of two emails between himself and Tickets to My Downfall producer Travis Barker about the feature. Per the emails, apparently sent in January 2020, Taylor was supposed to be on a song called “Can’t Look Back.” Barker passed on a message from Kelly that Taylor “fuckin killed it.” Kelly also said he wanted to change part of Taylor’s verse and the bridge after seeing news of “the war and the state of everything” and realizing “soldiers need a song to stay alive to.” Taylor appeared to reply the next day: “I listened to the ideas and to be honest, I don’t think I’m the right guy for the track.” In his tweet, Taylor added, “I didn’t do the track because I don’t like when people try to ‘write’ for me. I said NO to THEM.”
MGK then replied to Taylor’s tweet, writing, “basically, your verse was really bad. respectfully, i was just telling you to rewrite it because it was really bad. respectfully. 😕” He also respectfully(!) suggested the two cover a Britney Spears song, though the odds don’t currently look too good on that. Barker, meanwhile, has yet to comment.