The mise en scene of a Glokk40spaz music video tends to operate on a similar plane as The Blair Witch Project. Seemingly abandoned homes, sheds, and the remnants of what used to be human structures, in the middle of nondescript forests, that are as close to civilization as they are to deeper greenery. For all their differences, the two diffuse folklore through immediate transmission.
On Glokk’s latest project, Took The Biggest Risk, this immediacy is bolstered by moments of respite thanks to production from SenseiATL, Al Chapo, Dylvinci, and Captain Crunch, which manages to oscillate between twinkly and harrowing. It sharpens the edges of Glokk’s prickly sound, while allowing him to access brief moments of vulnerability.
There usually isn’t a stretching or warm up period on a Glokk40spaz record. Introductions are replaced with synthlines that emerge simultaneously from swamp and space. Beginning one of his tapes is like entering a car that is already going 80 mph.
And yet, on “Enough Ammo,” there are nearly 15 seconds of negative space before Glokk delves into his usual flows. This time the synthline is more ethereal than militant. “Take precaution when you step in this traphouse, only guns and drugs allowed,” he warns, inviting listeners to a world that resembles the project’s cover art: An anarchic hell that Glokk stares into unfazed.
True to his name, Glokk is spastic. His mind is often moving faster than his tongue, which serves as the foundation for his raps, a full-body effort. His first step is lighting, even if messy, like an uber-athletic 6’7 wing who could be the next Kawhi if the jumper comes around.
This is showcased on “Face Card,” a modern mutation of Atlanta tradition. SenseiATL and Al Chapo weave together what sounds like a church organ progression, perfectly placed kick and snares, and ghostly synths, to create a beat that would feel at home on a late aughts Gucci or Flocka tape. The way Glokk enunciates “F&N on me that’s plastic,” is reminiscent of a throaty Peewee Longway delivery.
The song’s hook begins slowly — “Band havin’ big ass sticks on us, come get some/Don’t talk about lil Glokk, my face card A1” — with Glokk digging into each syllable, as if to orient his footing. Suddenly, he explodes into subsequent lines, going back and forth with himself until he begins his verse like he was shot out of a cannon: “I’m on the block with these bands, we having hella thirties in our pockets.”
Aside from a delivery that is felt rather than heard, something that sets Glokk apart is his willingness to open up about who he is in spurts. He’ll offer a secret only to immediately close back up. On “Forgot My Manners,” he distills a tumultuous upbringing down to the way he speaks — “It ain’t my fault I grew up on the Southside, fucked up grammar” — and the fact that he never “believed in Santa.”
But this quality is best seen on the tracks that are more plugg-influenced and laced with autotune. These types of songs, like “3rd World”, are more pensive and the vocal alterations are not just methods to achieve certain sounds, but also allow him to retreat into a broader range of feelings. “I would’ve been there for you and you picked him, that shit lame,” Glokk croons, while later on, details gifting a prison shank to a friend for Christmas. Moments of supreme openness are juxtaposed against an ocean of antisocial behavior.
Still, like most of Glokk’s projects with the exception of Spaz&B, Took the biggest risk, can feel bloated and one-track minded. The autotone doesn’t always work either, like on “Blame Us,” where Glokk sounds like he’s regurgitating everything on his mind with bluesy abandon. He fails to underpin the track with any real intimacy, aside from reflections about his friend Sumo. It pales in comparison to a song like “I Choose Violence” or “Be A Man,” two singles from last year where Glokk uses the same vocal effects almost as an excuse to bear his soul.
“I got felonies no misdemeanor/I’m going through a lot and I mean it/And my heart broke is you gon fix it/I got love for every gun that I tote/You don’t mean nothing to me no more,” a standout part of his verse from the latter encapsulates a kind of two steps forward, one step backward approach to emotional transparency.
“I Got A Army,” is the project’s highlight, equipped with production that suggests triumph. Its key progression sets the scene for an underdog to emerge out of a locker room, invigorated. “I’m on the block posted up with hooligans/me and the woah on that god damned stupid shit.”
The choice to use hooligans here feels like a statement of purpose, similar to Chief Keef detailing his inner circle being uncontrollable and vice versa on “Hold My Liquor.” A hooligan is prone to lash out emotionally, with no capacity to be controlled. On the precipice of something larger, Glokk is simply acting like a kid that was hardened under specific material conditions.