Key Glock’s second installment under the Yellow Tape umbrella is perhaps one of his most personal offerings to date. There’s the obvious; such as the color yellow, referenced in both the title and album cover, as an ode to his much-beloved grandma, whom Glock mentions in the album too. Yet, beyond just a title tribute, the content itself also feels more personal than previous efforts, where the South Memphis-bred rapper would deliver hard-hitting anthems and embolden listeners with his tales of street politicking, but wouldn’t necessarily divulge too much information that would distinctly identify him as a person. That’s not to say he wasn’t authentic, because, for Key Glock, authenticity seems to simply ooze out of him, a natural byproduct of his upbringing and demeanor– he simply is who he is– and part of that means he’s not exactly ready to open up and reveal himself completely to a random listener, or else, in a random interview.
This makes sense for an artist like Glock, who grew up in the streets and dealt with law enforcement consistently; whether it be through his own mother or himself. Key Glock would likely have a “don’t talk” policy from these sorts of early life interactions. And so, with Yellow Tape 2 serving as Key Glock’s seventh solo mixtape, perhaps he’s finally settled into his new career of ‘rapper’ and the public-facing life that entails, thus allowing himself to also open up a bit more. It’s these (albeit) tiny instances of revealing facts that help spur the listener forward on Yellow Tape 2, alongside a creative arrangement of trap-driven beats, Glock’s knack for memorable hooks, and overall, an unrelenting momentum.
In our interview preceding Yellow Tape 2, Key Glock promised the mixtape would supply even more energy than Yellow Tape. While the exact increase in energy is difficult to measure, Glock seems to keep his promise. Fellow South Memphis native Tay Keith helps kick off the tape with muddy piano keys, before Glock races himself to finish the song. “Channel 5” keeps that same vigor intact, but with darker and heavier piano keys from Bandplay, and Key Glock simply riffing on his haters and his excess wealth. “Channel 5” is the classic Glock sound; turnt and taunting. Things start to veer into new territory as we hit “!!! (Don’t Know Who To Trust),” with production from a little-known collaborator by the name of Little Island. Despite the fact that this is one of the few songs on the album without Tay Keith or Bandplay attached to it, it’s also one of the most interesting– Glock uses the tilting horn and flute beat to share how his aunt’s recent death has been affecting him, in a way that many will relate to, and in a way that seems to match the emotional resonance of the production. As the tracklist descends, Glock echoes a similar idea when reflecting on the loss of his grandmother, rapping, “Ever since I lost my granny, I’ve been drinkin’ like a fish” before circling back to his frequently-mentioned trust issues on “Eve.” Even further down, as the album nears completion, Glock reflects on his lean-sipping habit via a confrontation with his girl: “My bitch hate when I drink codeine / She like “bae, you need to stop it, that shit make you mo’ mean” / I told her I got problem sippin’ raw since I was 14” (“U & I Know”).
LISTEN: Key Glock’s “!!! (Don’t Know Who To Trust)”
It’s moments like these that make Yellow Tape 2 one of Glock’s most captivating projects yet. However, beyond any sort of deeper look into Glock’s psyche — because, realistically, we can only expect so much– it’s the rapper’s hook-making abilities that truly shine across the tape. From the vintage bounce and juxtaposed Batman/Bentley Mulsanne references on “Juicemane,” to the motivational anthem that is the flute-laced “Ambition for Cash,” to stepping into gangsta-r’n’b territory with the smooth chorus for “Luv a Thug,” and the possibly-overlooked (!) album closer “Gangsta,” with it’s creeping beat and it’s 50 Cent callback– the list goes on.
Going hand-in-hand with this seemingly innate ability is Glock’s willingness to adopt and try out different cadences and new flows. Despite being a rapper, who, on the surface level (i.e. to the unobservant, un-fan), seems to employ only one high-energy flow, the rapper is surprisingly dexterous and inventive when it comes to finding the pockets of just about any beat. “Bill Gates” is a good example of this; while the lyrics might feel familiar or even tired (we’ve heard Bill Gates references before), it’s the ASMR-inspired, near-whisper cadence that ensures the song stands out in a tracklist that would otherwise consume it whole. This is the same type of “let-me-try-it” attitude that allows Glock to create the jazzy, bluesy guitar plucking of “Luv a Thug” or the precise, slow-moving flow on “Tony.”
Key Glock is then able to keep us spellbound over the course of a 20-song tracklist, and what’s perhaps even more impressive amidst all of this, is the fact that he does this all by himself. While certain artists rely on features, strategically placing them at opportune moments in their tracklist to inject a bit of attention and replay value — or perhaps more bluntly– for streaming ploys and playlist inclusion, Key Glock has, time and time again, ignored this new industry standard. Yellow Tape 2 is a steady stream of Key Glock, and there is nothing cumbersome or boring about it.