Glockoma 2 (Deluxe)

Glockoma 2 (Deluxe)

“I still be hanging with the reapers,” Key Glock raps on the opening verse of “Sucker Free,” the first song on 2023’s Glockoma 2 (Deluxe), his sprawling, slyly contemplative third studio album. He goes on: In the next bar, he’s “hanging with the demons.” Superficially, these are just two entries in what becomes a list of synonyms; before the track’s end, goblins, monsters, mobsters, and even doctors make an appearance. But in a much more important sense, the reapers-demons dichotomy is what drives Key Glock’s music. On one hand, he’s haunted by the memories that linger, the ghosts in his peripheral vision. On the other, he has surrounded himself with the sorts of people capable of repeating those traumatic cycles. Beyond even its involuntary recall of painful things, Glockoma 2 (Deluxe) has a sneakily complex relationship with time. Where the title of “Sucker Free” harks back to hip-hop’s early days, the album’s production is in touch with Memphis’s long history as a musical mecca, folding in elements of blues and even gospel; there are chopped choirs and blues guitars and stabs from sepia-warm organs. This is not presented as clever homage, or even a full-scale conjuring of the past—if it were a period film, there would be boom mics sagging into the frame in the form of rolling hi-hats, tightly wound modern flows, and contemporary slang—but rather the fabric of a city. While some of the tragic memories invoked, explicitly or otherwise, date back to Glock’s youth, some are much fresher in the mind. Glockoma 2 (Deluxe) is Glock’s first record since the 2021 murder, in Memphis, of his cousin and constant collaborator Young Dolph. This is not a tribute album—the Glockoma sequel is Glock’s usual alchemic mix of personal writing and razor-toothed club rap—but Dolph’s death does seem to inform some of the more pained stretches of writing, as on “Last Man Standing.” Like his mentor, Glock finds salvation in industriousness: variation after minor variation on a familiar theme, driving closer and closer to some essential truth.

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