MGK Sets Rap And Rock Aside To Go Country Thanks To An Intimate Cover Of Zach Bryan’s ‘Sun to Me’

Hate him or love him, MGK (also known as Machine Gun Kelly) is one of the more fascinating and fearless artists in the modern music landscape. After building his career with rap and trying his hand at rock music, he’s once again branching into a new genre, country, with an intimate cover of a contemporary country hit, Zach Bryan‘s “Sun To Me.” In addition to strumming his acoustic guitar, he plays a drum machine for the synth fills, accompanied by another guitar player.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. In the past two years, we’ve seen not just one but two of MGK’s white rapper brethren make the transition to country, so it’s understandable if you’re already preemptively rolling your eyes at Colton soft-launching his own country career after Jelly Roll and Post Malone both did the same. But, hear me out. This is something that artists have always done and should have always been allowed to do: experiment outside their established genre and grow musically instead of being pigeonholed to just one style and sound.

Of course, it’s frustrating that the only artists that the recording industry establishment allows to do this are, to put it bluntly, mostly white people — doubly so that so many of them start their careers in rap, a Black genre, before pivoting to more mainstream genres, and seeing greater commercial success in the process. Add in the fact that Black artists are rarely allowed such leeway — see: the ongoing debate about singers like SZA and Tinashe being pigeonholed into R&B, Lil Uzi Vert being categorized as a rapper despite his experimentation, and hell, you can go back to Prince and his long struggle against being boxed in — and it can be downright maddening to see artists like MGK spreading their wings like this. That’s to say nothing of the legacy of Black country artists being overlooked or outright blocked from the limelight.

But, you have to give credit where it’s due: Colton doesn’t sound half bad here, and it’s not like he’s ever turned his back on rap. In fact, his last two releases were a Cleveland-Columbus collab with Trippie Redd (who has bent a genre or two himself) and the extremely boom bap-ish “BMXXXing.” The only thing I ask is this: If MGK is allowed to switch genres and be taken seriously without being defaulted to “just a rapper,” so should all the Black artists who definitely don’t just stick to rap.

Watch MGK’s cover of Zach Bryan’s “Sun To Me” above.