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How Rappers Young Dolph and Key Glock Turned Street Smarts Into Business Savvy

Young Dolph and Key Glock are taking their “Dum and Dummer” act on the road, announcing their highly anticipated No Rules Tour, which kicks off Feb. 5, 2020 at Seattle’s ShowBox and hits a total of 33 dates. The rappers are booked by APA.

Anyone who’s followed Dolph’s trajectory knows he’s all about getting his paper. Still, last year, Dolph (pictured above) reportedly turned down a $22 million dollar deal to remain independent, signing with EMPIRE, the label and distribution company founded by Bay Area entrepreneur Ghazi whose roster includes Snoop Dogg, Iggy Azalea, Fat Joe, Remy Ma and, until recently, Tyga. The “Get Paid” rapper decided it was better to keep his masters and get a bigger percentage.

Signing his blood cousin and protege Key Glock to his own Paper Route Empire label, the Memphis natives’ most recent collaborative project boasts 22 tracks of grit bars, punchlines and hard-hitting production. On their first joint single “Major,” Dolph reminds listeners of his humble beginnings as he spits, “Millions on the table, that’s major / I turned dirt into diamonds, that’s major.”

The project as a whole was a spontaneous move in the studio — where they spend the majority of their days. Lead singles “Crashin’ Out,” “Baby Joker,” and “ill” have all received visual treatments, amassing 17 million views, 16 million views, and 13 million views, respectively and fortifying their place at the top of the rap game.

Variety recently caught up with Dolph and Key Glock to discuss the creative process, the independent journey and future goals.

Whose idea was it to put out a whole project?
Dolph: Glock’s idea. It was fun, just chilling. Nothing too serious. It was really early morning, late nights in the studio.
Glock: It wasn’t planned.

What makes you Dum and Dumber?
Dolph: We ain’t regular. We’re irregular, we’re just different. Whatever everybody else be doing, we’re doing the opposite. Really just staying true to ourselves, doing what we like to do instead of doing what other people would like for us to do.

What did you see in Glock initially?
A hustler. He’s young and passionate. He loves music like I love music. … A lot of people want to do this s–t because of the money, and [the ones who do], their music actually sucks. Or their music doesn’t have any substance to it, doesn’t give you any type of feeling, no motivation, no nothing. But people who love their craft, it does something to the people they reach. It’s some kind of motivation to the audience.

What have the streets taught you business-wise?
I was broke before music. Ain’t get no money from the streets. In 2009, I signed my first record deal.

Who was that with?
Dolph: It’s a secret. In 2011, I signed my second record deal. In 2013, I signed my third record deal. I just kept upgrading major labels. Then in 2018 is when I signed my last deal.

Talk about your decision to stay independent.
It’s a lifestyle more than anything. It’s a process. People who don’t know how to sacrifice, who like overnight, fast s–t, they can’t live this life. They wouldn’t understand it. They’re willing to sell out for something that you can get right now versus owning and creating and staying in control over a longer period of time. Not goddamn forever, but you can still do your thing. It’s all within you. There’s nothing in this world that’s hidden. The best thing is to invest in yourself, because it takes money to make money.

How many major labels did you have calling your line? $22 million is a lot.
At this point really, I feel like I’m throwing shots when I talk about that. I don’t want to burn bridges. Even though I didn’t do no deal with anybody, I don’t know what the future holds. I’d rather respect them and let that breathe.

Dolph Glock
CREDIT: ithinkethan

How would you describe your relationship with EMPIRE and with Ghazi?
Dolph: Ghazi, that’s my man. EMPIRE is on deck with people who love to do this s–t just as much as I do. They’re into their work. They bring more to the table, they understand me. In a relationship, whether you got money to deal with it or no money to deal with it, the best relationships are going to be the ones where you understand each other.

What’s next for Paper Route Empire?
We going up. Keep working, keep expanding.

Any business moves?
I really don’t like showing my hand. I got ventures.

Dolph you started out freestyling in a car. Did you think you’d be where you are today?
I knew I was going to be where I’m at today …. from the get go. Everything I planned is what’s going on right now. Everybody in the room right now, they were intended to be in the room right now.

What are some goals for yourself as an artist at this point?
Dolph: The goal right now is to keep pleasing my fans. At the end of the day, that’s all I care about. I’m here to satisfy the people. I’m here to teach. I’m here to motivate. I’m here to give people the adrenaline, the push and support. A lot of people have shit in them that they showcase to the world or showcase to their fans, hood, section, or city — but they don’t have that support or the push to let them know, “Bro, you’re hard as hell.”

What songs off “Dum and Dummer” mean the most to you?
Dolph: That’s hard. Either “Blac Loccs” or “1 Hell of a Life.”
Glock: The whole [of] “Dum and Dummer” means the most to me because there isn’t any tape out like it — ever. We play that s–t all the time.

Is there a secret to making a hit?
Glock: There ain’t no secret, you just have to be yourself.
Dolph: Just have fun with the music. As long as you’re doing what you like to do, all them s–ts are bangers. Just let the people decide which one they want to go with.

Tickets for the No Rules tour go on sale Oct. 25, 2019. See the full list of dates below.

February 5 – Seattle, WA, ShowBox
February 6 – Portland, OR, Roseland
February 8 – San Francisco, CA, Regency Center
February 9 – Los Angeles, CA, The Wiltern
February 11 – Santa Ana, CA, The Observatory
February 13 – San Diego, CA, Music Box
February 14 – Phoenix, AZ, The Marquee
February 16 – Denver, CO
February 18 – Bourbon, Lincoln, NB
February 19 – Wichita, KS, Cotillion Ballroom
February 20 – Tulsa, OK, Cains Ballroom
February 21 – San Antonio, TX, The Aztec Theater
February 22 – Houston, TX, House of Blues
February 23 – Dallas, TX, South Side Ballroom
February 25 – Birmingham, Al
February 26 – Atlanta, GA, Tabernacle
February 27 – Charlotte, NC, The Filmore
February 28 – Myrtle Beach, SC, House of Blues
February 29 – Greensboro, NC, Piedmont
March 1 – Washington, DC, The Fillmore
March 4 – Boston, MA, House of Blues
March 5 – Philadelphia, PA, TLA
March 6 – New York, NY, Sony Hall
March 7 – Cleveland, OH, House of Blues
March 8 – Detroit, MI, St. Andrews
March 10 – Louisville, KY, Mercury Ballroom
March 11 – Indianapolis, IN, Egyptian Room
March 12 – Kansas City, MO, Uptown
March 13 – St Louis, MO, Pop’s
March 15 – Chicago, IL, Vic Theater
March 17 – Milwaukee, WI, Turner Ballroom
March 18 – Minneapolis, MN, Varsity Theater
March 19 – Des Moines, IA, Val Air

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