First Look Friday: Gloss Up is being used for Memphis' rap lineage (2023)

Music- 2 days ago

Robyn Mowatt Robyn Mowatt is a staff writer at Okayplayer, where…

First Look Friday: Gloss Up is being used for Memphis' rap lineage (2)

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For last First Look Friday, we spoke to Gloss Up about their Memphis roots, getting into the rap game alongside GloRilla, and more.

Glowarrives at the Okayplayer offices in Brooklyn on a cold and overcast winter day in January. Accompanied by Brandon Farmer, her manager, and Jonathan, her videographer, Gloss looks excited as she walks in and stops by our office as part of a promotion for her new mixtape.before the shine. She's glamorous and rocking a look that exudes comfort and confidence: a cream, pink and baby blue plaid jacket, white t-shirt, glittery quality control chain, sky blue jeans and white boots, all topped off with 30+ inches of straight black hair .

A Memphis native, 25-year-old Gloss Up is known for being the partner of another up-and-coming Memphis rapper.GloRilla. But at home she is better known as Jerrica Russel. As a child, she divided her time between her mother's house and her grandmother's house in Memphis and was the eldest child on both her mother's and father's side.

"Growing up in Memphis was fun," he said. “I have many brothers, but my mother [has] four children. My father [is] seven. I'm the older girl on both sides."

From a young age, Gloss showed an interest in rap. Though her mother forbade her from listening to hip-hop, that didn't stop her from writing her own rhymes in notebooks that her mother thought were full of poetry. As he got older, he kept rapping, uploading freestyles to Future's "Tony Montana" and Meek Mill's "Heaven Or Hell" on SoundCloud, and even participated in daily freestyle battles in high school with a friend.

“I used to fight this guy every day at lunch. It used to make me so angry," he said. "I used to go home and prepare my rap for the next day because he used to screw me, but he was so hard. So it helped me a lot."

Not only did Gloss hope to be a rapper, but she also earned lessons to become a licensed cosmetologist, having done so from ninth through twelfth grade. But when she graduated, she didn't take the state council, choosing instead to continue her path as a rapper.

At first everything seemed to be going well. She continued to throw freestyles out of her dad's bathroom, recording herself on her phone and rapping into a snowball mic she and her boyfriend bought at the time. She had also teamed up with a team of female rappers who pooled their money to release videos. But things started to deteriorate in the group, and jealousy among the other members caused her to leave the team.

First Look Friday: Gloss Up is being used for Memphis' rap lineage (3)

Photo credit: @kumoshai for

"I just hated the vibe, people thought they were Beyoncé. It made me never do group stuff again," she said of the group, adding that the experience prepared her to work with the team of female rappers she found in GloRilla, Aleza, K Carbon and Slimeroni has.

Gloss worked at Nike and Denny's, selling jerseys to make ends meet. She still had time to work on her music, which eventually led to her meeting GloRilla in 2019. The two formed a close friendship and started on others a couple of times to amplify their music and stay focused. Videos and freestyles followed, with the two supporting each other and appearing side by side in their music. In the same year Gloss Up released their first project,different glitter tones. You can hear the hunger in his voice throughout; As she turns her back on her enemies and strives to live her life from rags to riches, her distinctive, focused flow connects everything and charts her progression as a rapper.

Two years later, Gloss Up and GloRilla performed at a talent show where they met the producerHitKidd. He saw something in both of them and immediately wanted to produce for them, along with a few other up-and-coming female rappers. The end result was "Set The Tone," a high-energy cut that catapulted not only GloRilla into the female rap conversation, but also Gloss Up, K Carbon and Slimeroni.

"Everybody just came in and rapped, and it kind of just came together," Gloss said. "When we made this song, I didn't think I was going to do anything. I usually listen to my songs a thousand times when I go to the studio. I didn't even listen to the song because I didn't think it would do anything. So we [then] did the video and it got crazy.”

With the momentum of "Set The Tone," Gloss didn't give up. He was constantly posting freestyles on YouTube and thanks to the ever-increasing views of those freestyles, he ended up on the QA radar. After enlisting trusted attorneys and consultants to help her with the paperwork, she eventually signed with the Atlanta-based label, saying she knew she would be in the right hands with label founders Pierre "P" ThomasKevin "Coach K" Lee for his work withIsCity girl.He's since been featured on the buzz, "My Neck, My Back" and sampling another QC member's "Real B*tch."Lakeya, and now it's urgentbefore the shine, his debut in quality control.

The same hunger heard indifferent glitter tonesshe's here too, but it's nice to hear she's enjoying it too. Such is the case on "Bestfrenn," which features GloRilla, a cheeky, swaggering standout, swapping the two bars in an infectious rhythm about their friendship. At the end of the single, Gloss Up exclaims enthusiastically, "We made it rich together," a statement that shows just how much the couple's lives have changed in recent years.

With that comes some challenges, notably that Gloss is the furthest away from her children (Jayce, two years old, and Jersey, two months). But she's dealing with it as best she can.

"I feel like I'm doing whatever I'm supposed to be doing to be where I'm supposed to be," he said. “I want to perform on big stages. I want to be a better artist at everything. I even want to try different genres, different vibes and different things.”

He also hopes to work with Megan Thee Stallion, Lizzo, Moneybagg Yo and Lil Durk at some point in the future to continue showing how he wants to experiment as an artist as he continues to rise. But until then, it's clear she's excited to take the next steps in a career she's wanted since she was a child, and she's proposing herself for the Memphis rap line, particularly female Memphis rappers like La Chat and the late onesGangsta-Boo- included.

"I feel blessed by the fact that they gave us our flowers," she said of the two female Three 6 Mafia members. "Well, Gangsta Boo gave us flowers when he was here. She [was] always a good person. She always said nice words and [was] encouraging. I hate what happened to him. She will be missed. As for La Chat, I just spoke to her. I love her. I appreciate it too. These two are some icons and people always say I remind them of La Chat or Gangsta Boo. So I feel good."

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