Senaca Village · May 17, 2019
Injury Reserve have built hype for years leading up to the release of this debut, self-titled record. Previously they released two acclaimed mixtapes, Live From the Dentist Office (2015) and Floss (2016), as well as the EP Drive it Like its Stolen (2017). The trio of Steppa Groggs, Ritchie With a T, and producer Parker Cory effectively mixed jazz rap bangers with more laid back tracks, drawing in an audience with their unique approach to the genre, distinct personalities, and a clear chemistry between the members.
Over the years Injury Reserve has begun to sound more comfortable, where in the beginning their charm came partly from their young amateurish approach they now seem comfortable. Parker Cory has clearly become very comfortable producing for these two, allowing him to experiment with new and bold sounds, something that we saw beginning on Floss, and that comes across even more so on this project. Ritchie sounds more comfortable on the mic with every project, one of the most recognizable and interesting MCs coming up currently. Though I believe Steppa has shown the least growth of the group’s members, he still works well over Parker’s production and with Ritchie.
Injury Reserve finds the group playing outside the lines more than ever. Singles like “Jawbreaker” previewed the fact that the group still had new sounds at their disposal, with Ritchie, Steppa, and Rico Nasty giving loose flows over a disjointed, laid back beat. On record many of these departures, as well as songs from their old wheelhouse go over well, though there are a few questionable decisions in the tracklist. The concept on “Rap Song Tutorial”, slowly explaining the parts of a rap song and adding them in, building a track, is something that would maybe work better as a skit, but gets old across the duration of a full track. “GTFU” featuring JPEGMAFIA and Cakes Da Killa doesn’t entirely deliver on the precedent set by previous Cakes featuring track “What’s Goodie” on Floss. The other featured tracks deliver their guests strengths in spades, the previously mentioned “Jawbreaker”, “Jailbreak the Tesla” with Anime, and “Wax On” with Freddie Gibbs. Despite not being as solid a project across its entire runtime as previous projects have been, Injury Reserve is still a project that sounds like no other group around right now.