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RECAP + PHOTOS: Billboard MusicCon Day 1 Summit Ft. Machine Gun Kelly, Latto, Burna Boy and More!



Credit: Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Billboard

he inaugural Billboard MusicCon officially kicked off earlier today (5/13) with a jam-packed summit featuring exclusive conversations with Machine Gun Kelly, Latto, Burna Boy, Ukrainian artist Max Barskih, Rauw Alejandro, and more at AREA15 in Las Vegas.


Presenting sponsor Smirnoff hosted one-of-a-kind, neon-themed Happy Hour experience, featuring the new Smirnoff Neon Lemonades Seltzer and Ice Variety Packs.



LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MAY 13: (L-R) Jason Lipshutz, Machine Gun Kelly, JUS Lyons, Steve “Baze” Basil, JP “Rook” Cappelletty, and Brandon “Slim” Allen speak onstage at the “A Decade of Touring” panel during the Billboard MusicCon Summit at AREA15 on May 13, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Billboard)

  • “A Decade of Touring” with Machine Gun Kelly & Band
    • MGK started off polling the crowd on the name of his new movie, going with “Made a Movie with my Friends,” which he then shared in real-time on his socials.
    • When talking about their upcoming tour in June, the band explained that they started rehearsing back in April to perfect their craft. They added how MGK is the hardest critic. They’ll have an amazing show with 100,000 people and he’ll figure out one thing that didn’t go right.
    • MGK shared, “It’s tough because these are my brothers and the guys I look up to, but for some reason when the work hat is on, I’m really adamant about perfection.”
    • He added, “So many artists in the mainstream light gave up on being raw and not messing up in front of the camera. It really pisses me off because it’s your job to be vulnerable and not be perfect. You shouldn’t put filters on your music. I don’t want to sound better, I want to sound like we do that day. If you want to sound perfect, let the robots play. The importance of humanization in music is more important than ever.” 
  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MAY 13: (L-R) Andrew Unterberger and Ukrainian singer Max Barskih speak onstage at the “Don’t F*ck with Ukraine!” panel during the Billboard MusicCon Summit at AREA15 on May 13, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Billboard)

  • “The Future of Hip Hop” with Latto
    • Latto kicked off the conversation talking about the rise of her hit “Big Energy” and how this past year was everything she’s worked for. She explained, “I’ve been rapping since I was 8 years old. I leave my whole footprint on social media so that people can see my come up and see that it was organic.. I worked hard to get to where I am now.”
    • When talking about how the industry has been improving for female rappers she said, “To get to where we are and then for a male to get to where he is… We have to go 10 times harder. I’m grateful for its evolution. The females before us opened doors and made it easier.”
    • Latto also shared which artists have been reaching out to her: “I’ve been blessed with comradery within the genre. Cardi B sent a voice note saying to keep going. BIA DMd me when I dropped my album, congratulating me and telling me to not worry about the critics. Trina was my first big feature. I was independent when we did that and ever since, whenever I call her and ask her to come to a show, she’ll ask.. when, where?!

      LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MAY 13: (L-R) Leila Cobo and Rauw Alejandro speak onstage at “The Future of Reggeaton” panel during the Billboard MusicCon Summit at AREA15 on May 13, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Billboard)

  • “The Future of Reggaeton” with Rauw Alejandro
    • Rauw discussed his background as a musician, singer, songwriter, and dancer, and how it took 8 years to first see success. He described his breakthrough hit “Todo de Ti” as a “before and after his career” moment.
    • He later chatted about his relationship with Spanish singer/songwriter Rosalía, sharing, “She knows more about music than me, she’s more of an expert. When we’re in the studio together, she comes up with the ideas and ways to change the music. We help each other out, that’s the most important thing. We’re a team.”
    • He ended by teasing a new album that’s expected this winter, with potential collaborations with Shakira and Rosalía.
  • “The Explosion of Afro-Fusion” with Burna Boy
    • When asked about what steps he took to get to headlining iconic venues like Hollywood Bowl, Madison Square Garden, and even the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, his response was simple and to the point: “God.”
    • Burna then shared what it was like having P. Diddy as an executive producer on his fifth studio album, Twice as Tall: “It happened on Zoom, so it wasn’t what you would imagine. More importantly than anything, a friendship was established though. That was the best part of the experience.”
    • He closed by sharing what he wants to leave as his legacy, stating, “BB and AB. Before Burna and After Burna.”  
  •  “Don’t F*ck with Ukraine!” with Ukrainian artist Max Barskih
    • Max kicked off the conversation by thanking the audience for their support for Ukraine, noting that keeping the conversation going around what’s taking place in his home country will help to end the war faster and save lives.
    • He discussed his experience signing up for the Ukrainian armed forces, saying, “I never knew that my life would change completely….but I was sitting in the western part of Ukraine and I just thought, I can’t just sit here I need to help people.”
    • He also detailed the inspiration behind his song, “Don’t Fuck With Ukraine”: “I signed up for this military unit, and all the soldiers had this spirit… I was just looking at them and was inspired by how they can sacrifice everything to keep our country safe and resist Russian evil.”


Later tonight, Machine Gun Kelly will take the stage again for a performance as a part of the Zouk After Party. Tomorrow night, May 14, GRAMMY Award-winning musical powerhouse Ty Dolla $ign will deliver a headlining performance, followed by an After Party performance by ZEDD. For tickets and additional information, please visit:


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