With the tragic death of Young Dolph in 2021, the Memphis rapper Key Glock lost not only a close artistic collaborator, but a beloved family member and the single-most influential figure in his career. But instead of constructing a hagiography to his mentor, he has paid tribute by carrying on, a consummate workaholic who tunes out pain by clocking in. This year’s Glockoma 2, now expanded in a deluxe edition, maintains the laser-sharp focus of his previous Southern hustle music while showing a deepening sense of maturity and resolve. As usual, there are no bonus guests or radio-baiting remixes, just straight-up bars.

Glock’s self-reliance is squarely in the tradition of Memphis rap, a scene that has often worked on its own terms. But Glock embodies his hometown not just in business philosophy but in production. While producer Bandplay sticks to a classic Memphis underground sound, all bass kicks and thick claps, he uses samples that add new flair to Glock’s established style. There’s a vintage warmth to Glockoma 2 that recalls the city’s history as a vibrant Mecca of rhythm and blues, from the glistening strings on “2 for 1” or the bluesy guitar of “From Nothing.” Glock is frequently at his most nimble on these throwback numbers, like the turntablist-inflected “In & Outta Town,” which Bandplay constructs from the foundation of a beeping alarm.

Across the album, Glock’s tight flow draws you inward, like he’s rapping in stealth mode. He isn’t laugh-out-loud funny, but there’s a sly wit to his imaginative bars, like when he compares the drip on his neck and wrist to the Nile River on “Ratchet.” You get the sense that Glock is protecting his heart, but gloom and pain lurk around every corner: “Still hanging with the reapers/Hanging with the demons,” as he says on “Sucker Free,” the opener to the deluxe edition. He lets ghostly samples articulate what he himself cannot: On “No Hook,” a pitch-shifted voice repeats the refrain “I hear voices,” a menacing counterpoint to Glock’s usual swagger. On tracks like “Let’s Go” and “Lean Habits,” Glock is backed up by chopped-up choirs, while distorted vocal flips lend a cloudy flavor to “Work” and “Fuck Dat Shit” that evokes Clams Casino beats.

On their Dum and Dummer tapes, Glock and Dolph made for effortless tag team partners; the void of voices on Glockoma 2, save for Glock’s own, only magnifies how unique their chemistry was. But Glock is more than capable of standing on his own; as he puts it bluntly on the closing track, which outlines his continued indifference to co-signs, “Fuck the rap game, just pay myself for a feature.” For Glock, that independence is a principle he inherited from his mentor, who bucked the majors with his Paper Route Empire label. By continuing to put his ideals into action, Glock keeps Dolph’s legacy alive.