Injury Reserve is an Arizona-based, hip-hop trio consisting of rappers, Stepa J. Groggs, Ritchie with a T and producer, Parker Corey. The group formed in 2013 and have released three mixtapes and two EPs prior to their self-titled, full-length project, the most notable of these early releases being 2017’s Drive It Like It’s Stolen. This EP was really my introduction to the group with tracks such as “North Pole”, “See You Sweat”, and “Boom(x3)”. You could just listen to that EP and understand that Injury Reserve was different. They are bringing the unique, experimental, and overall, creative sounds that are severely lacking in the hip-hop industry today. With acts like Migos, Drake, and all the rappers with “Lil’ in their name who produce these sounds that are safe enough to play over the radio and be highlighted on mainstream platforms, it is good to have Injury Reserve around to bring something different to the table.
This is the self-titled debut album for the Arizona hip-hop trio. Their sound is fairly out there and could be off-putting for the basic, surface-level hip-hop fan. There was heavy buildup and anticipation for this project thanks to phenomenal singles like “Jawbreaker”, “Koruna & Lime”, and “Jailbreak the Tesla”. Fortunately, this debut project lives up to if not exceeds expectations. This is the perfect way to make a full-length debut. The experimental sounds on tracks such as “Jawbreaker” and the creativity of having an actual tutorial for how to create a rap song literally called “Rap Song Tutorial” just shows that Injury Reserve won’t hold back on anything and won’t play the mainstream game. “GTFU” is a track with some glitchy sounds and some hardcore features from JPEGMAFIA and Cakes da Killa. The track “Gravy n’ Biscuits” is easily my favorite on this album. Funky instrumentals and a very catchy hook. The song is just a blast to listen to. I expected the track “Wax On” to be another, absolute banger, especially since it features Freddie Gibbs, but my expectations were diverted and this track actually plays like a ballad more than anything else. “What a Year It’s Been” comes off as a self-gloating track, but it is not. Steppa and Ritchie are reminiscing on the ups and downs on the last year they have had leading up to this self-titled debut. “Best Spot in the House” is one of the closing tracks to this album and it is hard not to get a bit choked up listening to it as both Steppa and Ritchie talk discuss the topic of death and how they handled both situations from different perspectives.
Injury Reserve has the potential to be one of the best rap albums of 2019. Every sound that they experimented with worked to create a solid, cohesive unit. While you may want to hear just a single genre for an album, that is not what Injury Reserve does. There are elements of jazz and soul that blend into the rapping and it works perfectly. The trio is here to be cutting-edge and show that you do not have to have a mainstream sound to be appealing.
Richest Tracks: Koruna & Lime, Jawbreaker, GTFU, Jailbreak the Tesla, Gravy n’ Biscuits, Rap Song Tutorial, Wax On, What a Year It’s Been, Best Spot in the House,
Worst Track: New Hawaii