“It’s No Sleep Anyway:” An Interview with Key Glock

TE P. speaks with the Memphis rapper about his family (including cousin Young Dolph) and what it's like where he's from.
By    February 19, 2020

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Key Glock just released one of the hardest projects of an already wild and unpredictable 2020. Casually, in conversation, he flexes his first week numbers, “I just dropped Yellow Tape and it sold 30K first week. No promo, no features, no major label helping us out, just me and the gang, and my fans.” 

He has the poise and charisma of an artist who’s been here before, but he hasn’t. Sometimes talking to these cats can be difficult when they don’t give you much, but there are times when that brevity works because the artist doesn’t need to say a lot to get their point across. Key Glock is one of those. Throughout this interview, he chooses his words with the precision of a celebrated author and with bars like, “Stack it, flip it, get it, get it. Nigga get some mo’. Smokin’ do-si-do. Goddamn—bought the whole Dolce sto’,” who’s to say he shouldn’t be nominated for a PEN Award?

In just over three years  Key Glock has gone from relatively unknown to the cream of the crop of the next generation of Southern rappers. Supported by his cousin and Paper Route Empire label partner Young Dolph, he’s distinctively and instinctually carved out his own lane, propelling his voice to a fan base that can’t get enough of his Memphis bred “don’t give a fuck attitude.” His brash and unapologetic demeanor is even reflected in his creative process. When he says he doesn’t have any features, and isn’t looking for any, it’s not in jest, he’s absolutely serious. 

His Yellow Tape project — like the previous Glockoma, Glock Bond, and Glock Season – don’t have a feature in sight. It’s a feat he’s proud of and one that he’s come to be known for. It’s this amount of control over his destiny that has helped him get to this point. But it wasn’t always like this. 

Born Markeyvius Cathey, the journey has been full of dramatic twists and turns: from his mother being incarcerated for much of his childhood, to his jumping off the porch young into the same South Memphis streets that have shaped his outlook and his music so greatly. He attributes his Grandmother for playing a key role in him even getting the chance to become Key Glock.

“My Grandma is the strongest person I know because she dealt with me,” he says. “I know that was hell. So, my Grandma is the most important person in my life other than my Momma.” 

Key Glock understands who he is, why he’s here, and what really matters — openly admitting why he’s in the rap business: “The only thing I want to do is make 50 million out of the music industry and go diamond. I don’t want to go platinum—only diamond.”

His goals are lofty, but his approach is direct. As he’s continued to see success with his talent and his self-taught business acumen, he’s still completely connected to the people and the environment that helped make him. 

When I asked him what South Memphis was known for his answer was blunt and brutal, “Killin’ and pimpin’.” This may be true, but now it’s known for Key Glock too. — TE P.

You being from Memphis and being very proud of being from South Memphis, can you tell what that part of Memphis is like?

Key Glock: It’s not like where they from. I can tell you that.

What would say South Memphis is known for?

Key Glock: Killin’ and Pimpin’. I’m just being one hundred. I’m just being honest.

As far as the spot you’re from, is there anything that comes out of there that you could say you’re really proud about?

Key Glock: My cousin Dolph. We the two biggest things to come out of South Memphis. Memphis period.

Y’all said there’s something about Memphis cats that they just don’t give a fuck. It separates y’all from the rest ‘em. Where does that come from? Why do y’all feel that way?

Key Glock: It’s just, I don’t know. It might be something in the air down there. I know I’ve been feeling like that for a while. Not even just the music. Just how I live. It’s just my way of life. I came into the world by myself. I’ma go out by myself.

I know you’ve mentioned getting into this business to make your money—not to make friends. I think anyone can respect somebody that’s up front with it and says, “I’m to do what I came to do.”

Key Glock: Exactly. It’s work—no play time. Play later.

Why did your family want you to slow down in going back to Memphis? Was it the environment? Did they just want you to be in other places?

Key Glock: Na. I’ve just always been like this. My folks just got love for me bruh. It’s unexplainable. It ain’t got nothing to do with music about me not being around. They do want me around all the time.

What’s your favorite thing to do when you do go back home?

Key Glock: Chill with my momma. Chill with my folks. Go do what I’m supposed to do and get right back out of it.

I’ve heard a lot about the food in Memphis. Is there a favorite place that you eat that you would be from there to know?

Key Glock: There’s a spot called Soul Fish. It’s like a Seafood slash Soul Food spot. It’s home cooked. It’s like food, food. It‘s all over Memphis. There’s one in the South and there’s one in Midtown too.

I watched the short documentary you did introducing your family. Can you speak to them just being able to overcome?

Key Glock: We all have an understanding with each other. That documentary ain’t even the half of what really goes on. It’s just a little somethin’ for my fans. There’s really more to it.

You can’t some up any life or any relationship in 10 minutes. What I could see though is your grandma being very central to all of this. It popped off the screen that she has always held it down. How was she able to be so strong throughout everything?

Key Glock: I’ma sum it up all in one sentence. My grandma is the strongest person I know because she dealt with me. I know that was hell. So, my grandma is the most important person in my life other than my momma.

The doc also showed the unbreakable bond between a mother and a son. It showed that that bond knows no limits between you and your Mom and the situation your family was in. Can you speak to how y’all were able to continuously grow through her time?

Key Glock: Me and my momma’s story is different. I really don’t like speaking on it because I leave it where it’s at. We living life. It ain’t about that no more.

Now that she’s “Momma Glock,” I could imagine the attention she’s getting now and it’s all coming from the positive things you’re doing on such a large scale. How does that feel for you?

Key Glock: All that’s good but that wasn’t the intention to do that. She ain’t even like that. How I move, where I come from, and how I came up we play it safe. You know what I’m saying. It’s really not supposed to be like this but it just so happen this is the kind of lifestyle I’m living. It got out. It’s all good. I don’t like it too much and she don’t either. It’s a whole ‘nother world we live in. You don’t know people’s intentions is.

How do you adjust to that? Or don’t you and you move the same way you’ve always moved?

Key Glock: I still move the same way. I don’t let my left hand know what my right hand is doing. Sometimes I be confusing myself because I be wanting to do so much.

What does Momma Glock think of your music?

Key Glock: She’s my number one fan.

Does she have a favorite song?

Key Glock: Everything I put out! She just like me bruh. Whatever I put out, it’s that.

Does she give you any advice for songs?

Key Glock: Ma Dukes gonna give the top notch best advice you could think of. It ain’t no doubt about it.

You mentioned Dolph—your cousin—earlier. Y’all have an energy that is undeniable. What is it like to work with someone who you genuinely want the best for and who genuinely wants the best for you?

Key Glock: Time will tell everything. If it’s meant it will happen. You can’t force nothing. And we both know what we want to do and how we gonna do it. We always on the same page.

Y’all did the project and y’all said it was spur of the moment. So, how does that process work? How do y’all spit ball ideas?

Key Glock: If he say that he finna go do somethin’, and I know it might end up hurtin’ in the long run, of course I’m gonna speak up. Because I don’t wanna see him go out like that. I got love for him. We gonna tell each other what we think is right and wrong. Even if it’s not.

What was your favorite part of making that album together?

Key Glock: Really it’s because all gang was around. We just had fun really. It just was a get away time. We just had fun doing what we do best, really. It couldn’t get any better than that. It wasn’t no dull moments at all.

And no sleep right?

Key Glock: It’s no sleep anyway [laughs].

I could seeing during that run y’all got tired of people asking the same questions. People get lazy with this shit. How do you feel about promo?

Key Glock: Promo is you only get what you pay for, you know what I’m sayin’? You gonna get what you put in. Then again, I just dropped ‘Yellow Tape’ and it sold 30K first week. No promo, no features, no major label helping us out, just me and the gang, and my fans. And those are the numbers. It’s cool though. Cuz it’s a lot of niggas on a major label that ain’t selling 30 in their first week or getting on the billboard. But Glock did it! Nigga right here did it!

Or they getting on these playlists running numbers thinking they fooling people…

Key Glock: Yeah. They thinkin’ they fooling people but it’s all good. And my bag bigger!

Dolph is putting this major thing together of all of these artists but he’s giving it to you to move things forward. How do you feel about that?

Key Glock: It’s really not a feeling. We all one. We don’t look at each other. “I’m bigger than you. You lower than him.” We all one. We going together. Ain’t nobody thinking about it like that. We all turnt up.

What would say is something big that you’ve learned up this point?

Key Glock: I taught myself everything bro. I taught myself literally everything.

What would you say is that best piece of advice that you’ve taken from Dolph?

Key Glock: It’s different strokes for different folks. What works for me might not work for somebody else. But it was really just stay down. Like, no matter how long the time is, it will come. You know what I’m saying? It might be over night for some folks. It might be 10 years for some folks. But they got to the point they wanted to get to.

You said that you and Dolph are the best things smoking out of Memphis right now. Memphis as a whole has a spotlight on it. There are a lot of really good things coming out of there. How do you feel about it? Are you happy or are you just focused on what you’re doing?

Key Glock: Na. I ain’t thought about it ‘cuz I know what I’m doing. I know everything I give. We doing what we want to do. We ain’t worried about no attention. We know. WE KNOW!

Memphis is notorious for independence. Where does that mindset come from?

Key Glock: Mine is natural. I can’t speak for nobody else. For me, it’s natural fa sho.

The Yellow Tape itself is a really dope body of work. You gave a gang of songs, more flows, and no features again. What were trying to accomplish with this on?

Key Glock: I’m just making a statement. I’m just pressing the button right quick. They know.

What are some of your goals? What are you pushing to do?

Key Glock: The only thing I want to do is make 50 million out of the music industry and go diamond. I don’t want to go platinum—only diamond.

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