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How Memphis Rapper Key Glock Turned Grief Into Motivation

When Memphis rapper Key Glock, born Markeyvius Cathey, walked into a conference room in Midtown Manhattan earlier this year, the 25-year-old musician had been doing what all rich people do when they visit New York City: shopping. “I went to Saks’s Fith Avenue, spent about $7,500, feel me?” he said, smiling with a chain that says “Cutthroat” in a font that would make Master P grin. 

Glock’s music is historically not a statement of record for the sheepish and the gentle. His music is so piercing and full of jabs it should come in a package with a harpooner. In late February, he released his third studio album, Glockoma 2, his first since his cousin and Paper Route Empire founder Young Dolph was murdered. On this album, his intensity sounds even more heated. “I’m just trying to reach people who are not too familiar with my aggression on records,” he explains.

None of what Glock does vocally is show-stopping, but it is pugnacious Memphis music, and he has a real gift for song-making and album pacing. “Designer Down” is bouncy and cutting, and clocking in at 2:28 is efficient and doesn’t waste time getting to the point. On “Dirt,” Glock is triumphant: “I just bought a new blue pinky ring, my heart cold, it’s icebox / Number one rule, get that money, man, I got this shit from Dolph.” If a stranger to the motivational methods of hip-hop were introduced to Glock’s music, it would slightly behoove them to finally pick themselves up from their bootstraps.

Half the songs on the album are produced by Paper Route Empire’s in-house producer Bandplay, and all of the beats on this album are husky, off-kilter, and pounding. Standout track “Work” is throbbing, buzzing in your eardrums like Lance Stephenson. The song also features another Dolph reference, as Glock raps, “I lost my dog every day this shit hurts/his voice in my ear keeps on telling me to work.”

Glock had to take a break from the outside world to become this energized again after a tragedy hit him and the rest of the Paper Route Empire. On November 17th, 2021, Key Glock’s cousin and mentor, Young Dolph, was gunned down by two men in a white two-door Mercedes-Benz. The murder was vicious and done outside Makeda’s Homemade Butter Cookies, a bakery he routinely visited in Memphis. It was public, to the point it was on television and in person for everyone to see. Reports later revealed that Dolph was shot 22 times.

Glock, who refused to comment on the murder or any of the last moments he and Glock might have shared before the shooting, took some time to grieve in private after it happened. “I just sat still. I didn’t force or rush it; I had to deal with time. I wasn’t feeling it. It wasn’t in me to record. I was grieving, bro. Ain’t no way around it”, Glock tells me, with an apparent pain in his face. Among their many collaborations, the pair had recorded the joint albums Dum and Dummer and Dum and Dummer 2 together. On the energy surrounding those two records, Glock talks in a soft voice: “Those were some of the best times of my life,” he recalls. “We were under the same roof together for three months. Laughing and joking with the whole team.” At this moment, Glock is shy and talking in fragments. He’s still not ready to completely give his thoughts on this publicly.

Although the grief and caution linger, it’s clear Key Glock isn’t letting what happened to Dolph affect how he moves. “Everybody has a date. You can’t run from it, no matter what it is. Car crash, weather, anything”, he tells me. “When it is your time, it is your time. You got to wake up, live your best life, and be prepared.” On the bracing cut, “In & Outta Town,” produced by Hitkidd, Glock slides on the beat with an impressive couplet: “Ayy, don’t tell me to slide, I have been on that for a long time (Fah, fah, fah) / These niggas porcupines, backstabbin’, that is not my kind (Cutthroat).” He attributes his gritty attitude to the streets of Memphis. “It was hard, but it paid off. It helped me become the man that I am today. It made me strong,” he says.

In the conference room, several Paper Route Empire artists — Jay Fizzle, Snupe Bandz, Kenny Muney, and Drip — enter and interrupt Glock’s interview with plates of food and marijuana smoke. Every time they do, Glock flashes a smile as if this was planned, and they’re pulling some pranks on each other. (Bandz is my favorite of the bunch, and “Straight Like That” is a banger). They all have a rapport with each other, and it is infectious. Fizzle and Glock argued over food, stating that mac and cheese should be considered a main dish. “It’s a main and a side,” Glock says. Fizzle disagrees: “I can eat that alone,” he says. Of course, both men have valid points.

The rest of the crew is here with Glock to film a video for Spotify’s Rap Caviar series. While they were filming, Glock was in the middle between everyone else in the group but never felt like he was particularly on a higher level than the rest of the roster. They’re in this together, and although they are still carrying the pain from the murder of Dolph, they’re in great spirits. “We’re all each other’s mentors. We all feed off of each other. We hang out every day if not every day. They’re so many of us, and Dolph told us always to make money together,” Glock asserts.

Jay Fizzle agrees. “Glock is like a family. We got mutual respect. It’s lit. It’s bigger than the business. It’s family. We have been working together since we were fifteen and sixteen. We were hustling”, says Fizzle, with his weed smoke filling the air.

“We learned to go get the money under Dolph,” says Kenny Muney. When I ask Muney what they learned under Glock, he says, “We learned to go get money,” uttering this while laughing at the similarities between the two gentlemen. “If you’re with Glock, you will spend some money. For real”, says Fizzle.


This closeness in the label is best illustrated by the fact that Glock rarely has any features and has no features on Glockoma 2. Not to sound like a fan of J. Cole’s, but in a world where the machine of guest features seems to be the same on an album (check out the A-Boogie wit da Hoodie guest list for contrast), it is refreshing and compelling that Paper Route Empire and Glock stand alone either by themselves, or with each other. And the finale on Glockoma 2, aptly titled “Fuck a Feature,” is an explanation of the no-other-features dogma that this Memphis crew believes in.

On the track, Glock shouts, “I might pay myself for a feature,” and there’s no reason to doubt him.

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