Key Glock’s breakout projectYellow Tape was a harsh trap record with little reprieve. Devoid of any potential radio hits, the featureless album entrenched listeners in the stifling world Key Glock grew up in. But Glock showcased a talent for writing lyrics sprinkled with earnest brevity, and in turn, Yellow Tape was a surprise hit that peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard 200 upon its release last year.

Glock’s eye for these sober details was due to his tumultuous upbringing in South Memphis, which included an incarcerated mother, absent father and a brief jail stint. Raised by a supportive bevy of women – his grandma, great grandma, and auntie specifically – Glock connected with his cousin Young Dolph through them. It was through this supportive pack of women Glock learned the life lessons he has since peppered throughout his music. “My granny told me what’s done in the dark must come to light,” Key Glock rapped on Yellow Tape’s “What Goes Around Comes Around.”

On Yellow Tape 2, the sequel finds Glock at the most successful place in his career, flexing his financial independence with exuberance. But every blessing spoken is lightly coated in darkness. On “Eve” and “Ambition For Cash,” Glock’s emphasis on self-sustainability is painted as an addiction. He’s been striving for financial wealth since he was “thirteen years old with a shoe box stash,” but that doesn’t mean the grind is always healthy. “When you really gettin’ money, it’s some pros and it’s some cons,” he raps over the smooth and brawny drum kicks of “Quarterback.”

Paper Route Empire Rapper Key Glock Breaks Silence On Young Dolph's Murder

While the album’s flexes are fun and sometimes funny (“I walked in my garage and scratched my head cause I can’t choose)” such as on “The 1,” Glock intersperses these braggadocio remarks with candid honesty, adding moments of emotional breadth.

“My auntie died in her sleep, yeah that shit fucked me up,” Glock raps on “!!! (Don’t Know Who To Trust),” before diving into a verse about how Instagram females DM him every day begging for dates.

Glock has mastered a stream of consciousness rhythm. While celebrating his diamonds and lavish cars, he can’t help but get pulled back to the haunting experiences that shaped him. He intersperses rhymes about “jumpin’ out the gym like Lebron” on “U & I Know” with a hook about his struggle to quit Codeine despite pleas from a woman he cares about. “I told her I got problem sippin’ raw since I was 14,” he raps.

Elsewhere, he touches on the unease and paranoia he feels as his career continues to grow. “I’m on my road to riches and I’m prayin’ I don’t crash,” he raps on “Understood,” “They like, ‘Why don’t you do features?’ ‘Cause I don’t like meetin’ new n****s,’” he says on “Eve.” But all of these moments are tied seamlessly together by Glock’s silky flow and discernible swagger. He raps with unfettered confidence, toeing the line between impenetrable and brazen over twisting instrumentals that add extra nuances to traditional southern sounds. “Can’t Switch” lightly toys with a soft reggae bounce, while “Luv a Thug” immerses Glock in a sultry, R&B self-assurance. “Bangin; on that pussy, turn it purple like Grape Street,” he raps in all seriousness.

It’s in these ways that Glock and Yellow Tape 2 embody the Southern rap of past and present. Driving toward riches while demons sit comfortably in the backseat is the ethos of the genre that was carried by Three 6 Mafia and their affiliates, and Glock wears these influences proudly. “When you really gettin’ money sometimes shit get dangerous” he raps plainly on the Juicy J-produced closer “Gangsta.”

Glock sounds right at home rapping over a Hypnotize Minds-inspired barrage of piano and drum kicks, but it’s Glock’s knack for experimentation and transparency that makes his songs deceptively hard to figure out and impossible to ignore. The best part about Yellow Tape 2 is that it’s clear from his eye for specific detail Glock isn’t lying. Just ask his community about him.

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