California-based and Arizona-bred rap trio Injury Reserve, consisted of producer Parker Corey with rappers Ritchie With a T and Stepa J. Groggs, made quite the name for themselves last December with their debut album, Floss. Floss is a mixed of heavy beats and hard-hitting production with catchy, fun lyrics. The album followed up their first project, Live From the Dentist’s Office, released in July, 2015.
While the group’s subject matter isn’t always regarding the most serious of subjects – although that’s not always the case – there’s typically an entertaining direction and dynamic the group attempts to take with each track.
Since this summer, the group may have become overshadowed by fellow boyband Brockhampton, a rap group that seems to have attracted a similar fanbase to Injury Reserve. So, it’s good to see the the trio drop some content before the new year. This group is still early in their development and continues growing and changing as they progress as artists. Parker usually delivers great production and Ritchie and Groggsie both have a very unique sound.
Fav Tracks: Boom (X3), Colors, Chin Up (Outro)
I’d be lying if I said I was excited to dive into this E.P. The group’s dynamic was never interesting enough for me to really pay attention to them in Floss or Live from the Dentist Office.
One thing I can never bash about Injury Reserve is Ritchie with a T. Ritchie reminds me of Meechy Darko from Flatbush Zombies. There are few things better in music than the grimy voice of Meechy. Because Mikey and Timmy are fans of the group and I’m a big fan of Meechy substitutes, I gave IR another chance.
The start of the album was a bumpy ride to say the least. The first track TenTenths had an electronic beat that felt like a nightclub song with Ritchie whispering the lyrics in borderline ASMR fashion. The E.P. continued to trend down in the second track See You Sweat. If you weren’t a fan of the electronic club beat in track one, IR throws another “club banger” at you in track two. See You Sweat sounds like a Far East Movement sequel to Like a G6 that never made to the radio.
The E.P. makes a slow turnaround on 91 Cadillac Drive. I vibe (HEAVY) with the production on this track. I wish the lyrics were on the same level, regardless the track is easy on the ears. Track four: Boom (X3) is my favorite song on the joint mainly because of the hook. The production takes another step up with the heavy bass that would make a grown man cry. Ritchie’s second verse on Boom has to be the best on the E.P. as he calls out the older hip-hop heads for bashing 21st century rappers for having ghost-writers when ghost-writing has been around since the beginning of hip-hop.
“And then we got the old head’s going
‘What’s up with the ghost-writing thing, my n*gga?
I don’t get that, see, back in my day, you had to write and
Spit raps.’ Isn’t Ice Cube writing 64′ a known fact?
They even put it in a movie, n*gga, explain that
That’s no shade, they ain’t even try and go change that”
North Pole is the stereotypical song every band writes describing the struggles of “blowing up” and finding out who is their real friends. Colors kicks up the conscious shit with a deep, hard-hitting hook mentioning Sandra Bland and the hardships of African Americans in the United States. The E.P. finishes strong on Chin up (Outro) with sounds that remind me of 90’s hip-hop with alternating verses in a 4-bar scheme between Ritchie and Groggs.
Drive It Like It’s Stolen is an impressive work as a whole, even with the “club banger” singles that start the E.P. Production is impressive throughout DILIS with different mixes of electric slaps to smooth vocal samples on a couple hooks. The transition from grimy and dark to conscious and optimistic is nothing short of beautiful. I’ll be looking forward to the next project being either one or the other, but I’m excited either way. MAN WE WANT SOME MORE HITS!
Fav Tracks: Colors, North Pole, See You Sweat
As a fan of ‘Floss’, I was really interested to see what direction Parker, Ritchie and Grogsy would take with this EP. I expected something different, but not this different – something that turned out to be much slower and softer in the majority of tracks from what we saw on Floss.
The intro track ‘TenTenths’ didn’t really do anything for me. Looking back, it did set the mood for the rest of the project, but it was too bland for my liking. Undoubtedly one of the best and most catchy hits on the project, See You Sweat was a good musical representation of the project cover art. The confident, energetic verses by Ritchie and Groggsie along with banging hook with the slick raindrop addition could be set to a Fast and Furious soundtrack.
The biggest flaw of the project was ’91 Cadillac DeVille, which didn’t bring much to the table lyrically, and the production wasn’t bad but failed to evolve throughout the joint which made it hard to keep me interested. To follow up, Boom (X3) had a crazy, energetic ‘Floss’-like hook, but I would’ve liked the energy of the delivery in the verses to be a bit higher. Shoutout to Ritchie for his scary good verse though, one of the best on the project.
The group really stepped it up lyrically with tracks five and six in North Pole and Colors. If you can get through the soundless first 35 seconds of North Pole, you’ll be in for a really dynamic track with incredibly heavy lyrics, especially from Ritchie regarding his relationship with his deceased father. Colors also had deep and well-thought lyrics – the group succeeded in making a more political song without forcing it down listeners’ throats. Ritchie’s verse was the best on the project.
Chin Up (Outro) wasn’t bad – I enjoyed Ritchie and Groggsie flip-flopping lines throughout. I think that was pretty wavy with the beat.
Injury Reserve brought meaningful and interesting storytelling to the table on this short, seven-track project. The production and vibe was clean and often pretty simple which didn’t really allow for anything extraordinary, but it was still solid and a mostly enjoyable listen.
I’d recommend to give this a chance for any hip-hop buff, as I think ‘North Pole’, ‘Colors’ and ‘See You Sweat’ is some of the trio’s best work to date. I’m looking forward to what the three can do with their next release, as they’ve shown their versatility in the group’s three projects to date.
Fav Tracks: See You Sweat, Chin Up (Outro), Colors
Drive It Like It’s Stolen is the latest EP from Arizona rap trio, Injury Reserve. Leading up to this release, I have to admit I wasn’t too eager to listen. “North Pole” was the only single I had heard and it wasn’t particularly interesting to me. But, as great as their latest album Floss was, I knew I had to give it a try. As you’ll read below, this EP did not disappoint.
- “TenTenths” (5/10) – Injury Reserve starts the EP off with a low key, somewhat forgettable track, in my opinion. There isn’t much energy or atmosphere that I enjoy. It’s okay.
- “See You Sweat” (9/10) – But this, this is the banger of the album. The group makes great use of sirens, water drops and other energetic instrumentals to get your blood pumping. I don’t know if Nine Inch Nails is an influence on the group, but I even get a Hesitation Marks feel from this track. Don’t miss this one.
- “91 Cadillac DeVille” (7/10) – This is another low key song, but I vibe with it; chill beat.
- “Boom (X3)” (6/10) – I like the bass use in this song, but the beat is just okay to me. The track is lyrically interesting and addresses ghost writing in a clever way.
- “North Pole” (7/10) – In the beginning of this review, I noted that I didn’t care for this track upon first listen. But, this is a song that gets better with each listen, especially when you pay attention to the lyrics. This track is a somber one remembering loved ones that have passed.
- “Colors” (8/10) – Another atmospherically dark track that paints an ugly, but real picture of racial inequality in the world. Great track.
- “Chin Up (Outro)” (9/10) – Oh. My. Goodness. This is a beautiful track. The piano, high hats and lyrical flows all marry so well. I feel nostalgic as if I’m listening to a “golden age” rapper like Nas when I hear this song. Fantastic ending to this EP. I only wish the track could be longer.
Overall, Injury Reserve did a great job on this EP. The project has a darker atmosphere than Floss, which leaves me excited and full of anticipation for their next full length. The group is extremely versatile and this EP has something for any mood. I would recommend this project to anyone whom enjoys unique hip hop artists doing something different. This is just the beginning for Injury Reserve.