A Night With Key Glock, Rap’s Reclusive Star
It’s a foggy night inside and outside of EMPIRE’s Times Square studios. After a tiring day of press running around the Big Apple and a multi-course dinner celebrating the forthcoming release of his Glockoma 2 album, a tipsy Key Glock already has his sights set on his next project.
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“You’re going to hear something new every other month,” Glock said in his interview at the Billboard office hours earlier. “Just know you’re gonna hear more Glizzock.”
But don’t expect a third installment in the Glockoma series — as he shuts down the idea of a threequel there, and is also tight-lipped about the whereabouts of the completed Dum and Dummer 3 with his late mentor Young Dolph.
The 25-year-old nods along to what he feels like 100 beats from his frequent collaborator Bandplay and jokes about how he’s already rapped over every possibility in the producer’s beat extensive folder — two of which were laced with catchy, nostalgic samples like Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September” and Willie Hutch’s “I Choose You” (of UGK fame).
Glock attributes his meticulous ear for production to his grandmother, who listened to a mix of blues and hip-hop while raising him in South Memphis. He recalls her playing an array of 2Pac, Three 6 Mafia and UGK, in addition to soul singers Johnny Taylor and Tyrone Davis.
“The soul music, that’s more of the real life stuff, where hip-hop is more of the entertainment and street-life stuff,” he adds. “They both just had a toll on me coming up.”
Draped in Air Jordan “Mocha” 3’s, a plaid Amiri sweater and a matching beige Seattle Mariners cap to complete his fit, Key Glock finds a thumping trap beat from Bandplay’s folder to his liking and hits the booth with now less than 24 hours until Glockoma 2’s arrival.
It’s after midnight on the East Coast, and members of Glock’s team have left. Paper Route CEO Daddy-O dozes in and out of sleepy consciousness behind his Cartier shades, while the Cutthroat rapper’s entourage keeps the party going, after three bottles of Don Julio 1942 Tequila arrive via DoorDash and Backwoods are being rolled up like an assembly line.
Glizzock’s girlfriend, beauty influencer Karin Jinsui, is also present, but keeping to herself for most of the night — scrolling on her phone and comforting Glock when he steps out of the booth.
It’s been over four years since the original Glockoma landed, but the second installment is finally here. Bandplay reveals that most of the album was recorded on the European leg of Glock’s tour last summer.
“We match our sound perfectly,” he says. “A lot of this project we recorded in Europe. Pretty much 75 percent of the project got recorded overseas while we were on tour. The whole ambiance of being overseas is all over the project. Their speakers [just] ain’t hitting like ours.”
Glizzock notched his first solo top 10 debut on the Billboard 200 with 2021’s Yellow Tape 2, and he’s in contention to earn another top 10 with Glockoma 2 next week – and that’s all without any features, which he boasts about on album closer “F–k a Feature.”
“I tried to stay in the same lane and same style,” he states. “It’s just present Glock, is the only difference. Some songs are on there from two years ago and some are from two weeks ago.”
A testament to his consistency while building up his fan base, Key Glock refuses to engage in a lot of the social media antics his peers might lean into all of while remaining independent (He’s signed to EMPIRE for distribution). “You can’t worry about the next person and look at their success and their growth and wonder why you not doing the same,” Glock says. “Everybody get their time to shine, but it just depends on what you do when your time comes. Take advantage of that.”
He continues to do the heavy lifting for Paper Route Empire, with the Memphis label’s legacy now on his back following the loss of PRE patriarch Young Dolph. “Rest in peace Dolph, yeah he gave me the torch,” Glock raps on Glockoma 2 standout “Randy Orton.”
Dolph’s chilling Nov. 2021 murder in his hometown sent shockwaves throughout hip-hop, and Glock didn’t take much time away from the grind. He last spoke to Billboard in his first interview following the tragedy (March 2022) where he referred to his Dum and Dummer collaborator as his “motivation,” and seemed to be zapped of any creative inspiration.
“We the same person, we just different ages,” he says now, reflecting on Dolph. “We got the same mindset and we think alike and move the same way. Even way before we clicked and bonded together, we was already like twins. [He inspires me to] keep standing on business with the music, because I know he wouldn’t want me to stop.”
Glock is animated, bopping around the booth with his hands moving, while punching in bar after bar. Bandplay explains that it’s a rare occasion for the “Russian Cream” rapper to be recording following a few cocktails, but it’s been a special celebratory affair.
Paper Route Empire hosted about 50 music industry professionals for dinner at the swanky Midtown Japanese restaurant Zuma earlier in the night, where the label surprised Glizzock with another platinum plaque to add to his growing collection, for the flute-tinged “Ambition for Cash.”
Employees wheel in a rare bottle of Louis XIII – one of the most expensive cognac’s made sporting a four-figure price tag – and shots are extracted and poured using an oversized syringe, for a toast to Glock’s recent success.
Momma Glock receives a FaceTime call shortly after, showing her she’d have another plaque on the way to add to her trophy room — where she proudly displays all of her son’s accolades. Key Glock has previously compared his tight-knit bond with his mother to that of Kanye West and the late Donda West.
The clock strikes 2:00 a.m. ET and Glizzock emerges from the booth, ready for his team to hear the raw finished version of his latest work. With a more blunted yet steady flow, Glock glides over the menacing trap production, utilizing shrewd wordplay incorporating Drake and Migos in the midst of his braggadocious rhymes.
“Song’s hard as f–k,” says one of Glock’s friends, who goes by “Drip,” lending his stamp of approval. KG agrees and has the record sent to his flooded email.
Everyone gets back to cracking jokes — a theme of the night — before Glock wins one more battle with his publicist, pushing his first obligations for the next day back a couple hours until after noon, putting the star at ease to enjoy what’s left of another late night.