An Assured Step After Tragedy
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Glockoma 2 is Key Glock’s first full-length album since the passing of Young Dolph. As such, it would seem that there’d be a lot of fanfare around its release, some pomp and circumstance worthy of Dolph’s standing in the Memphis rap scene and Glock’s proximity to him as his protege and frequent collaborator.
But that’d run counter to both rappers’ modus operandi, the way they eschewed big-name guests and moved in modes consistent with the gritty street narratives they unraveled in their music. Key Glock is not a flashy guy, although he does sport the usual array of chunky, diamond-encrusted necklaces common to his profession.
Instead, what we get on Glockoma 2 is a microcosm of the Paper Route Empire ethos of consistency and authenticity, with little window dressing or build-up. The album was released quietly over the weekend after only a pair of straightforward singles (“Dirt” and “Work” both of which are frontloaded here) and a tour announcement. The music included is similarly unfussy, with no featured artists and a familiar lineup of producers including BandPlay, Hitkidd, and Sledgren.
What makes it stand out among a slew of similarly-themed projects is Glock’s intense focus on improvement. He’s always been cleverer rhyme-smith than he’s perhaps been given credit for, but here, he elevates his craft impressively, stunning with subtly witty one-liners and plainspoken but deft boasts (“I just pulled up with my chopper like the Undertaker,” he barks on “2 For 1”).
Of course, the spirit of Dolph hovers over the proceedings. While Glock dodges obvious references to the tragedy that knocked his world off its axis, his mentor’s influence is clear in both his improved delivery and in overt lyrical references. On “Ratchet,” he nods to the Dolph-shaped void, “I took a couple losses, that shit there made me a winner / Boss shit, baby, yeah, I do this for Flippa.”
There isn’t much variation on these themes in Glock’s lyrics, but he keeps the content sounding fresh with a versatile selection of beats. They demand enough course correction to keep him in a variety of pockets, which helps distinguish each song and prevent his voice – the only one on the album thanks to his “F**k A Feature” mentality – from becoming monotonous. From the sauntering horns on “Randy Orton” to the Gothic trap bounce of “Money Over Hoes,” there’s enough variation in sounds to prove Glock’s adaptability.
If there’s anything missing here, it’s a more in-depth excavation of the principal’s emotional state of mind. He took a full year off after consistently releasing at least an album a year since 2016 as a result of the emotional hit he took with Dolph’s death. While maintaining his unfazed persona is likely good business – it’s what’s worked for him so far – it’d be nice to see him drop kayfabe at least here to address a traumatic experience without framing it as a temporary setback.
He similarly put off this reckoning on his late 2022 EP PRE5L, which seemed less pressing because of that project’s positioning as a warm-up of sorts for his grander return. Now that he’s made that return, it’s comforting to see him getting back on track, but a little disheartening to know that he still feels like he can’t address how he’s really been feeling. Perhaps on his next project, he’ll be more comfortable emoting a little.
However, for now, a return to form is enough – or, at least, it’ll have to be. Glock is back to big stepping, and for the first time, doing so without the support of his respected mentor. It’s nice to see him finding his footing. Dolph’s shoes likely can’t and won’t be filled – maybe they shouldn’t be. But Key Glock is walking his own path now, as assuredly as he’s able… and perhaps it’ll lead him to even greater success down the road.
Glockoma 2 is out now via Paper Route Empire.