Key Glock talks growing up in South Memphis, his relationship with Young Dolph, why he likes Gucci Mane so much, and “Yellow Tape 2” in HNHH’s “On the Come Up.”
On Friday, Key Glock will release the second instalment to his Yellow Tape mixtape series, with Yellow Tape 2. The South Memphis native has been rapping for six years now, beginning his career with the independently-released mixtape Whole Lotta Everything. Basically one full year after the mixtape’s release, the rapper would drop his first project under cousin’s Young Dolph‘s Paper Route Empire, with his hard-hitting trap-driven sound entirely intact. That is to say, Key Glock has pretty much always sounded like Key Glock. Case-in-point: listen to “Actin’” or “Zeros,” two of his early songs, both referenced in our interview with the artist below.
Key Glock, born Markeyvius LaShun Cathey, never had any doubts that this is what he would end up doing, although the timeline, and how exactly he’d get there, was certainly up for debate. This much is evident from our Zoom video conversation, which he takes from the passenger seat of his yellow lambo– although he needs to actually download the Zoom app before we can connect, because he’s a rapper. Glock speaks openly about being raised by a bevy of strong women, from grandma, to great-grandma, to mom and aunties; these ladies made sure Glock did his part to complete high school before the rapper winded up in jail for a brief period of time. And once again, a female figure in his life stepped in to help him get back on track– that is, his auntie, the same auntie who made him cousins with Young Dolph, called him up while he was still in jail and introduced the idea that Dolph wanted to connect to discuss music.
Image provided by the artist. Photo credit: @IThinkEthan.
Dolph quickly signed his cousin, and while much could be said about their familial relations; we don’t need to. The fact is, both Glock and Dolph deliver a particularly poignant strain of hip-hop that is hard to come by anywhere else. Their fanbase is cult-ish in its potency and dedication to either artists; and their disregard for a major label makes them that much stronger as artists and businessmen alike. If there is anyone rivaling Glock and Dolph in this space, it might be a fellow EMPIRE-signed rapper, who was actually a guest on On the Come Up last year— Money Man.
Nonetheless, today is all about Key Glock. Before you get 20 more songs on Yellow Tape 2, which Glock claims are even more energetic than the first Yellow Tape, it’s time to get properly acquainted with Markeyvius by reading, or watching, our interview below.
WATCH: Key Glock’s On the Come Up episode
HNHH: Tell me about your early life in South Memphis. What your childhood was like, any standout memories?
Key Glock: Growing up in Memphis…Growing up in South Memphis, it was rough and fun. Memphis taught me everything– everything I know as far as about business, street life. It’s true when they say that there’s no place like home. I’m glad to say I’m from Memphis because the way we built down there, the way I’m built, I can go anywhere else and live, and adapt.Just because of how my hometown is set up, and how they breed us. Rough and fun.
When you say you learned everything from the streets, what was your school situation like? I don’t know if you graduated high school or went to college at all, can you tell us about that?
School was never my thing, but it was something I had to do. Me, personally, once I got to high school, I was like, “Sh*t, I know how to count, I know how to spell, I know how to write, I know how to read,” and I know how to do these things well. As far as algebra, pre-calc, and sh*t, I never understood it, because I was like, “I’m not finna be using these types of problems in everyday life.” I’m not gonna be like, what’s x – y = z times two? I’m not finna be doing that with money and in my finances. But I wasn’t no dummy. I was book smart. I got common sense.
What would’ve been your favorite subject in school, if you had to pick?
I laugh when I say this, but my favorite subject was probably fitness. Gym. [Laughs] Straight up.
Image provided by the artist. Photo credit: @IThinkEthan.
You’ve talked about how your grandmother raised you. What was that like? What type of parent was she to you? Were there a lot of rules? And was she the only parent, the main parent growing up?
I ain’t have a “main” parent because everybody loved me and everybody looked after me, so it wasn’t one that stood out over the other ones in my eyes. I never looked at it like that. But I was raised in a household of women. My mother was away, so I was living with my grandmother, who was my mother’s mother. My grandmother was living with her mother, which is my great grandmother. I was living with my grandmother and my great grandmother.
Oh wow, and eventually your mom came home. Was she added to the household of women that were surrounding you?
Right before my mother came home, I had moved in with my auntie, who had just passed away– my Auntie Yolanda, my favorite auntie and my mother’s favorite auntie. Like I said, I was living with my grandmother and great grandmother, but my auntie was the third piece of the puzzle that completed me. I moved with her right before my mother came home, which was my senior year of high school. This was all my mother asked me to do, and my auntie was like, “You know you ain’t want to go to college, you know that ain’t your thing, but just get your diploma.” I was like, aight. To me, this sh*t ain’t nothing. I’m finna get that. That’s all? Okay! So that’s what it was.
So I’m just trying to put it in context — so you graduated high school– I went back to your first song on Youtube, “Actin’”, which was like 8 years ago.
So that song– you were in high school when you put that out, still.
Right, 9th grade.
You had already started rapping in 9th grade, I guess?
Yeah…but I wasn’t serious with it. I just had a name in the city, had a name in the streets, had a name in school. I was always popular, I had always been that guy. Everybody always knew who I was. I always had something going. I just wanted to do something right quick. Once I did it, I got so much feedback and great responses, it went to my head. I was like, “Aw yeah, this sh*t like nothing. I’m gonna take it and run with it.” And that’s exactly what I did. I just didn’t know it was gonna happen this quick. I always knew it was gonna happen though.
Was “Actin” the first song that got you thinking, like, ‘yeah, I can run with this, I can do this’? Or was it something else?
I always knew I could do this. That’s just how I am. I’m thinking [that] whatever I do, I know Imma be the best at it. I could start snowboarding tomorrow, and I know I’m finna be the best snowboarder ever. That’s just how I think. That’s just how I move.
So I just want to focus a little more on “Actin” because I find it so interesting, it’s a glimpse into your past but it also sounds so much like what you do in the present-day. Tell me about recording that song. Was it recorded at home? Did you play that song for Dolph or did you just upload it to YouTube?
I think I recorded it in a house, but the original song is by Gucci Mane. It’s called “Don’t Deserve,” you can look it up and listen to it right now. I was so in love with that song. I just went on YouTube, typed in that beat, like “Gucci Mane Don’t Deserve It instrumental,” and god dammit, it was right there. I clicked on it, played it, and I was just listening to it. Like any other lil kid, I was just rapping and listening to a beat. Then I was like, “Man, I’m dropping this after school.” It was just eating me up inside because I loved that song so much. I was already a Gucci fanatic, so that’s how it went. That’s what started it off. I sent Gucci that song a couple months ago. I was like, “Bruh, you’re the reason I started rapping,” and I sent him this song we’re talking about right now, “Actin,” and he was like, “Yeah, you need to go back to that old sound, it was hard!” I’m like, “I’m still hard.” [Laughs]
LISTEN: Key Glock “Actin’”
That’s crazy. I feel like he should remix that song present-day. That would be iconic. Going back to your upbringing, what is your relationship like with your mom present-day? Is she involved in your rap career at all? Do you ask her for feedback?
I ain’t got to ask her for feedback. She gon’ give it to me. I don’t even be knowing or thinking that she’s too hip or up-to-date with what I be doing, because I prefer her not to. I’m like, “This ain’t for you,” but she knows everything about me. She’s quick to tell me, “Boy, you’re my son. You think I don’t know this?” It’s just how it is. We’re best friends. We’re sisters and brothers.
What is the response to your presence in South Memphis these days? Are you able to go around and be there locally how you used to be when you were in high school, or does it cause a commotion?
I’m always in the city, but the way I move, I’ve always moved the way I moved, like, I don’t let my left hand know what my right hand doing. I’m so private with my life, like, momma you gon’ be mad when you see this, but I be having to lie to my own momma sometimes! It’s just something I got with myself. I just move different. You’ll never catch me with 100 people around me. I’m just different.
You mentioned Gucci before, I know he will be mentioned here, but who were your favorite rappers growing up? Who have influenced you the most rap-wise?
Gucci, Dolph, Lil Wayne, Future, and I feel like Sosa set the tone. Chief Keef is probably 3 years or 4 years older than me. Right when he came out, he was like 16, and I was like 13 or 14. He took the nation by storm, and that’s what opened it up for the youth, like oh, this is a youth thing now. This a young n*** world, just switched it up right quick, and that’s still what’s going on right now.
“Chief Keef is probably 3 years or 4 years older than me. Right when he came out, he was like 16, and I was like 13 or 14. He took the nation by storm, and that’s what opened it up for the youth, like oh, this is a youth thing now. This a young n*** world, just switched it up right quick, and that’s still what’s going on right now.”
That’s a good point. Chief Keef made you realize that, like, ‘I’m in high school, but I can still do this — I can upload to YouTube and go viral.’
Straight up, and what’s so crazy, I met Chief Keef before I was Key Glock, before the world knew Key Glock– Chief Keef knew Key Glock. We still conversate to this day, we still talk. That’s my mans. We’re just alike. That’s why we clicked tight like that. We’re just alike– we don’t f*ck around, we don’t f*ck with nobody. We just handle our business and live our life.
Yeah, you guys are both in your own bubbles. You do your thing, you have your fans, you know your fans will listen, and you don’t need to pay attention to anything else. You said you met him before the world knew who Key Glock was. How did you guys meet?
I met him through a mutual friend of mine. He’s passed away now. His name Jay Money, he was from Memphis too. If you knew me, you know Jay Money. If you know Jay Money, you know what was up with him, you knew how his name had weight in the city. It’s a long story, but that’s a whole ‘nother interview. Rest in peace Jay Money.
Image provided by the artist. Photo credit: @IThinkEthan.
So you started rapping…at what point did Dolph come into the picture? Can you explain that whole situation.
I ain’t even know it was gonna happen this way. I ain’t never took it serious. I never introduced him to my music or asked him about signing me– none of that. Everything just kind of happened for a reason. Earlier, my auntie that I was telling you about, that passed away — she was married to Young Dolph’s uncle, and that’s how we’re cousins — through marriage. Both of them are now passed away, so that’s another reason why our bond is stronger and tighter. It’s really deeper than rap. Blood is really thicker than water. It’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him, there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for me.
Did you want to be signed to a label at any point, were you considering that, or were you just doing your thing and it just happened?
I was young. I was 18 going on 19. I was in the streets. I wasn’t too hip or had too much knowledge about the music industry like I do now. So back then, ain’t no telling, I probably would have been headfirst. I would have went with whatever, whoever– as long as the bag right. Now, just by me being around Dolph and learning more about the business and how he orchestrates sh*t–’cause I’m right there, all the time, and I can see what’s going on– I’ll say nah. Because it was my auntie who was the one who introduced him [Dolph] to my music. I was incarcerated. Soon as I graduated and my momma came home, I went in– It’s a long story. Sh*t is all over the place. But when I was incarcerated, I had a song at the time called “Zeros” and It was buzzing through the city. I had dropped my first tape on my own, it was called Whole Lot of Everything. I ended up calling my auntie in jail– calling just to check up on her– and she was like, “Maymay wanna holla at you.” That’s Dolph’s nickname. Ain’t nobody know that though.
So, she was like, “Maymay wanna holla at you, so and so, so and so.” I was like, “Auntie, I’m finna get out in a week or two anyway. I’ll holla at him then.” Because I always had a thing where I don’t like visitation, talking on the phone, because that sh*t makes me feel like I’m setting myself up to be there, knowing I’m finna roll. I ain’t finna be here. We ain’t gonna make this a thing, so don’t get comfortable with visiting and calling. [Laughs] That’s how it all happened.
What do you depend on Dolph for the most at this point? How hands-on is he? Does he go over tracklists with you, or is he someone you strategize with? What type of role does he play?
Everything you just said, we do with each other. We’re cousins, but we’re brothers. We’re patnas fasho. I help him with his tracklist for a tape, or I’ll let him peep my whole tracklist for my tape. It’s just different things that we do. I’ll even give him a treatment for a video. I gave him two treatments before for a video. He’s gave me like five. That’s just how we work. We can do that, not because we’re independent, but because we really bond like that. We know what each other is on.
Is there anyone else in the music industry who you would call a true friend?
If I’ve got to think about it like this, nah. Not really. Nah I ain’t got time. I ain’t come here to make friends. I came here to make some money.
I wanted to ask about Gucci. You don’t have very many collaborations, but among the collaborations you have–besides Dolph and Paper Route artists–he’s one of the artists that you’ve collaborated with that’s not a Paper Route Empire artist. You guys have spoken, but what’s your relationship like with him?
Wop real. I can relate to Wop. I fully understand Wop– the way he moves, the way he acts, everything. That’s why, like, he’s been my favorite rapper for a reason– because of his attitude and personality. I’m kinda the same way. I don’t need nobody, don’t need nothing. I got me. I know what Imma do and I know how to do it. I don’t give a f*ck attitude. He’s my boy.
“Wop real. I can relate to Wop. I fully understand Wop– the way he moves, the way he acts, everything. That’s why, like, he’s been my favorite rapper for a reason– because of his attitude and personality.”
You only have one song with Gucci or more than one?
We’ve got four out, like, to the world. That the world know about. There’s four that’s out on platforms.
More in the stash?
Is there anyone you would give a feature to, no questions asked?
Yeah, I’ll give a feature to whoever. Not whoever, but as long as it’s right.
Okay, so, is there anyone you would accept it from, no questions asked? Besides for Gucci.
I can’t even say because I don’t know.
Getting into the projects, the lack of features in general– it’s come to be a defining thing for you. There’s not a lot of artists who can have such a strong rise without the help of features. Dolph is a co-sign, but it’s still not like a Drake feature.
You can’t find not one Key Glock song featuring Young Dolph. It ain’t like that. It’ll be a Key Glock AND Young Dolph, but nah.
What was the benefit, looking back, of not having any features on most of your projects?
The benefit…I don’t know. I keep putting it in their face. I keep popping my sh*t, talking my sh*t about it.
Well, one of the things is that, you not having any features means that the fan is really coming for you, we’re not coming to this album for any other reason than we’re gunna listen to Key Glock.
That’s a for sure reason.
Who’s your favorite producer to work with these days?
Bandplay, Tay Keith.
Those are the two I wanted to talk to you about. Bandplay, I want to do an interview with him one day, but how did you guys connect in the first place?
I found Bandplay through a cousin of mine. Nah, through my uncle. My uncle was living in Nashville at the time. His name’s Coop. He was doing a lot of parties and whatnot out there. He told me about Bandplay, like “You ever heard of Bandplay?” I’m like, “Bandplay? Who the f*ck is that?” He was playing his sh*t for me. I was like, “Where he from?” He’s like, “Bruh from Nashville.” “Nashville?!” He was like, “Yeah, he just produced a whole country album for so-and-so”– I forgot who the dude was. I was like, “Oh, he’s versatile like that? Hit him up for me, tell him to send me some stuff.” Long story short, boom. We linked up, I did a couple songs like “Cocky.” He did most of Glock Bond, my second tape. He was all over that. Then I remember, about a month or two later, Dolph called me out the blue. He was like, “What’s up with Bandplay?” I was like, “Sh*t, what you mean what’s up with him?” He was like, “Man, that n*** hard.” I’m like, “Yeah, yeah he hard.” He was like, “Bruh, I need you to link me with him, so-and-so, so-and-so.” I was like, “Bruh, I’m just finna shoot you his number and let [him] know you finna call him.” Just like that, and boom, next you thing you know, gang gang. La familia.
That’s so cool. So he was producing country music before he linked up with you. I feel like that’s what gives his production a little edge. I don’t know if it’s his beats, but you guys have a lot of beats with like, the flute, and other instruments–
Really, he’s just versatile. I can’t even describe it. He can turn anything up.
Image provided by the artist. Photo credit: @IThinkEthan.
I read that you went to high school with Tay Keith.
Were you guys in the same grade? What was your relationship like in high school versus reconnecting with him for production?
It was around that time of the “Actin” song. Tay Keith been producing, been posting tapes. It was him, me, another partner that was producing at the time, Nick. Blocboy was rapping at the time. That’s who he was working with, and he had a name still, even then, in the city. Even still, to this day, I got e-mails with beats from Tay Keith from 2016, 2017– a whole different tag from the new one y’all hearing now. That’s been my boy. We’ve got a real understanding.
It’s cool to see that you all broke out and you guys all kind of “made it” in a way–
That’s like with Bandplay, though! I introduced Tay Keith to…uh, I ain’t gon’ say their name, but you know what I’m saying– that’s when everything was– you know what I’m saying. But I set that up. I just want to see people win. If I f*ck with you, Imma set that sh*t up. Imma make the play. Why not? Spread the bread. I can’t get all that.
What’s the Memphis rap scene like presently? What’s it like locally there? Is it a lot of artists trying to come up ‘cause they’ve seen you guys do it?
It’s lit. [Laughs] I love it.
Let’s talk about Dum and Dummer. I don’t know if there’s a strategic decision that goes into it, but I just think that it’s interesting that with those collab projects– there are some songs that are just you, some that are just Dolph, and some that you do together. What is the decision making behind that?
It’s really like, I ask him how he wants to do it, then he’ll be like, “Sh*t, it’s however you want to do it.” Then, it turns off us and it turns to our circle– our gang. We’ll be in the studio. Then it turns to them. Then they turn into the decision makers. We don’t just look at it like I, I, I, or me, me, me. We all look at it together as one.
That’s cool. I like that it’s a collaborative project but it doesn’t have to be Dolph and Key Glock on every single song. It can be however you want it to be. Will the series continue in 2022?
Dum and Dummer 3? Is that what your tal’m about?
Yeah, Dum and Dummer 3, would that be a possibility?
[Key Glock looks sneakily at the camera and lights his joint] It’s already done.
Oh shit. So maybe 2022?
That I can’t tell you. But it’s already done.
Image provided by the artist. Photo credit: @IThinkEthan.
Diving into Yellow Tape 2, you just announced the release date. Why did you want to keep with that same theme and do a sequel to that project in particular?
It’s a great question, great question. Cause I never liked doing sequels. I never planned on even doing a sequel, but it’s more of, like, a statement. That color, it was my great grandmother’s favorite color. Y’all look at it like it’s yellow. I look at it like it’s gold, ‘cause I’m a player. But I just had to keep it going because the first one made so much of a statement, and I had to let ‘em know it’s actually yellow tape. When you see yellow tape, you know what it means– caution, beware, something dumb happened, something about to happen. But I’m letting you know it’s still yellow tape– this shit still happening, still about to happen. Like for real. [Laughs]
“I never planned on even doing a sequel, but it’s more of, like, a statement. That color, it was my great grandmother’s favorite color.”
I read on your Twitter that you have one feature on your tape and it’s not Dolph. So Dolph isn’t featured on the tape at all? Can you tell us anything about that feature? Is it just the one?
It’s not Dolph.
So Dolph is not featured on the tape at all.
So can you tell us anything about that one feature? Is it just one feature?
Yeah, it’s just one feature, but he on every song though.
[Key Glock begins to act suspiciously as he answers these questions with increasing ambiguity]
He’s on every song, but he’s a feature?
It’s really like a collab tape, but it’s not…Basically…I’m introducing my other artist. He’s on every song.
Have we heard him at all yet?
Who’s your artist?
I don’t call them my artist.
Okay, can we say their name?
[Laughs] you want their name huh? Key Glock…and the one feature…the one feature…Glizzock.
[Laughs] Okay, is that you?
Sometimes, sometimes [Laughs]
Okay, so, Key Glock featuring Key Glock.
Is there anything else you want to say about it?
It’s more energetic than the last one.
Interesting. The last one was pretty energetic.
I really love “Ambition for Cash.”
That was a lil something.
WATCH: Key Glock “Ambition for Cash” music video
How many songs are on it?
[I’m] putting 20.
You mentioned in an interview last year that you were trying to buy a crib. Did you accomplish that goal? Any other goals for 2022?
Yeah, I did that.
Okay so any other goals for 2022?
[My goal] is to keep shitting on ‘em. Keep sh*tting, keep popping my sh*t. Just gon’ stay out the way.
What do you want your legacy to be in the rap game, like if you have to be known for something?
It’s not just one thing. They’re gonna remember me for a lot. I can’t just pinpoint one thing. I’ve got so much sh*t that other rappers don’t do or don’t have. They know wassup with me.