Bad Boy Records artist Machine Gun Kelly has the Internet going nuts as reports claim a mug shot-themed shirt of himself has churned out a ton of cheap knock-offs.

Buzz behind the unexpected controversy bubbled online Friday (January 17).

This photo of Machine Gun Kelly is now at the center of a big legal battle … thanks to the photographer … who claims the rapper’s manager STOLE it from him to make crappy t-shirts. Dario Calmese filed the lawsuit in New York, claiming he initially shot the MGK photo in 2012 for a limited edition t-shirt line with clothing company Black Apple (above) — emphasis on “limited.” During production, Dario claims Black Apple submitted the photo to MGK’s manager Byron Kirkland for final approval … and everything appeared hunky dory. The Black Apple tees hit the market without a hitch — but soon after, Dario claims the mug shot photo began to surface on cheap knockoff t-shirts around the web, including at online stores Spencer’s Gifts and Live Nation Worldwide. (TMZ)

The knock-offs inspired MGK’s photographer to seek legal action against a slew of companies.

Now Dario is pissed … claiming Byron hijacked the photo for his own personal t-shirt production — outside of Black Apple — not only using the pic without his permission, but cutting him out of the action as well. Dario wants everyone (except Black Apple) to STOP producing the mug shot tees stat. He’s suing Live Nation, Spencer’s, Byron Kirkland and more … demanding a bunch of money. (TMZ)

Back in fall 2012, Kelly’s Lace Up debut managed to sell over 50,000 copies in its opening week.

Bad Boy Records rapper Machine Gun Kelly’s Lace Up debuted at No. 4. With a week under his belt, MGK’s long-awaited release has pushed out 50,700 records. (SOHH Sales Wrap)

Kelly previously revealed Bad Boy boss Diddy’s initial reaction to the LP.

“Honestly, man, Puff had got back from Ibiza three days prior to hearing the album,” Kells said when he appeared on “RapFix Live” this past Wednesday. “People where I’m from don’t even know what an Ibiza is; they probably think it’s like a fur coat.” With Diddy coming from the Spanish party island, he was probably in a celebratory state of mind, Kells said, and Lace Up isn’t that cheery. “I think when he heard it, his initial reaction was like, ‘Damn, why are you so angry?’ ” Machine Gun Kelly speculated. It took Diddy some time, but after absorbing the LP, which hits stores Tuesday, he began to see where the angst-filled rapper was coming from. “I ended having dinner with him the other day, and he looked at me like, ‘Yo, man, I really love the album,’ ” Kells said. (MTV)

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