Historically Memphis, Tennessee has a rich history of music with legends like Aretha Franklin, Al Green and Elvis Presley once calling the city their home. However in recent years, it has become less known as the Home of the Blues and more one of the homes of Rap, with the likes of NLE Choppa, Pooh Shiesty and Juicy J making it one of the biggest hotbeds for talent in the States. 

One rapper hailing from Memphis who’s making waves is Key Glock, who under the tutelage of his late-cousin Young Dolph, has become one of the most exciting rappers to emerge in recent years with hardcore beats, fun wordplay and a style and confidence to match. Glock talks to VIPER about growing up in South Memphis, advice from his cousin Dolph and his latest album ‘Glockoma 2’. 

Growing up in South Memphis isn’t for the faint-hearted, with poverty and gang influences rife across various neighbourhoods in the city, it’s a dog-eat-dog world where people strive for a better life by any means necessary. Talking about being born and raised in South Memphis, Key Glock – real name Markeyvius Cathey – said: “It was rough growing up in South Memphis, and it’s still rough now.” The rapper was predominantly raised by his Grandmother, as his mom was sentenced to 15 years in jail after committing a robbery when Markeyvius was only 20 months old. Understandably, it’s something he doesn’t like to talk about much but in the short film with ‘All Def Music’, he opened up about his childhood saying, “They used to ship us to different cities, different states. Shit, I was young and travelling to Minnesota, Tallahassee and West Virginia just to see my momma. It was normal because I’d been going since I was one year old; me and my Grandma going to this building far away to see my Mom. I couldn’t wait for that shit, I used to look forward to that shit. I ain’t ever questioned “Why?” because I was so young, I didn’t really know everything that was going on but I knew I had a momma.” 

His mother was released in 2014 and in the documentary Glock reflects on the moment she came back home: “I was born again, I got my momma! That’s what I really wanted the whole time, know what I’m saying? After that it was nothing but up, it’s my momma I love her to death! I don’t want her to work for nothing so my momma is Glock, it’s momma Glock!” His tough upbringing and the street smarts he acquired from growing up in South Memphis made him motivated to strive for a better life. The rapper had always envisaged success, money and making it out of the hood, he just didn’t know how yet. When Glock was 18 he was convicted of aggravated assault and served 90 days in prison. 

Worried about the path that Key Glock was going down, his aunt reached out to Young Dolph, his cousin through marriage and successful Memphis artist, asking him to help put Glock on a good path. After taking his cousin under his wing, Dolph learned that he made music when he heard Glock’s music bubbling in the streets and signed him to his label Paper Route Empire. The rest is history. Glock said: “I started out as a kid just rapping with friends in school but when I got signed I started to take it seriously.” Key Glock said before he signed for PRE, Dolph was the rapper that inspired him to start rapping, alongside other rappers like Gucci Mane and Lil Wayne. The late rapper was already a big name in Memphis, one of the leading figures in a thriving Rap scene in the city inspiring many to work hard and make it out the hood. 

Young Dolph and Key Glock quickly became an emphatic duo, with the flow and chemistry between the pair making them a force to be reckoned with. They took their sound global, making magic with their collaborative albums ‘Dum and Dummer’ and ‘Dum and Dummer 2’, featuring hit singles ‘Major’, ‘That’s How’ and ‘Water on Water on Water’. Throughout these years, Young Dolph set his cousin on the right path and gave him the tools to grow as a rapper through collaborations and exposure. Key Glock sensibly made the most of this golden opportunity, releasing his own mixtapes and hit singles. 

In 2017 Key Glock made waves with his debut mixtape ‘Glock Season’, which launched him into the Rap scene in a big way. The following year, he dropped ‘Glock Bond’, which featured one of his biggest hits to date; ‘Russian Cream’. The rising talent built on that success with other huge tracks, like the viral ‘Ambition for Cash’ and ‘Gang Shit No Lame Shit.’ 

This is an extract from the SS23 issue of Viper Magazine. Buy physical and digital copies here.

Photography: MIKE MILLER 


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