Photo Credit: Matthew Kaplan
Injury Reserve is a rap trio consisting of rappers Steppa J. Groggs and Ritchie With a T, and producer, Parker Corey. The first song that I heard from the group was their single, “Oh Sh*t!!!” from my roommate. After I heard this, I listened to their other single, “All This Money,” and I went back and listened to their project “Live from the Dentist Office.” I thought LFTDO was great and even included the song “Snowmen” on my holiday play list. So needless to say, I was hyped for this new album.
It’s good fun, with a few touching moments. It’s more of a New Hope than an Empire, but that’s fine. For what it is, it gets the job done. The only real complaint I have is the very underwhelming and needlessly corny guest verse from Vic Mensa on the song, “Keep on Slippin.” That “Jamaican me crazy” line completely killed the somber vibe of the song that it had going for it up until that point. As far as the positives go, the rapping is pretty solid throughout. But, the thing that really makes the project is Parker Corey’s quirky jazzy and varied production.
Just about every track on the project has something good going for it.
Track by Track Analysis:
“Oh Sh*t!!!” opens up the album with a somber piano sample that is quickly accompanied by slapping 808s, and a raucous hook from Ritchie With a T. The song is a banger! The auto tuned breakdown in the outro is unexpected, but pleasant. In fact, I like the outro more with repeated listens.
The album keeps momentum with the next track “Bad Boys 3,” which begins with this hyped up chanting that gets pitched down and worked into the beat. Groggs starts out rapping his verse which is unusual for the duo. The track probably could have benefited from some more length and a beat switch. Ritchie With a T’s line, “I’m the black Ben Carson,” is probably the standout quotable of the song.
The second single “All This Money” is another banger with a bombastic quirky beat and another one of Ritchie With a T’s signature catchy and boisterous hooks. The tongue and cheek verses are very enjoyable. Ritchie’s opening verse starts with some incredibly clever bars that manage to be self-referential as well as have some pretty great word play about his Carmelo Anthony jersey and Beck’s Mellow Gold album.
“S on Ya Chest” throws it back to the sound IR had on their previous project, with the smooth jazzy beat. Ritchie’s refrain of “What you know about a young n*gga like this/ What you know about a young neighbor like this/ I did the second one for the white kids/ Cause I know you wanna say it, but that ain’t right kid” very memorable.
One of my personal favorites from the project is “What’s Goodie (feat. Cakes da Killa).” The cut is yet another banger. The beat is comprised of an off kilter cow bell, rattling high hats and some pounding 808 drums. The Cakes da Killa feature has good flow and tenacious delivery, but I find Cakes’ timbre to take some time getting used to. As far as Cakes’ lyrical contentment, it’s very direct and braggadocios without much word play.
“Girl With the Gold Wrist” has a James Bond theme type feel. The energy of the song is dirty and sensual, and reminds me of “Love Again” by Run the Jewels.
The “2016 interlude” features just Ritchie on the vocals, and has some witty political bars. I find the line “Act like Jesus really care where you pee n*gga/ Like bruh, it’s 2016” to be particularly humorous and insightful. The beat is catchy and chill. The melody flows very nicely in to the next song on the album.
“All Quiet on the West Side” is chill jazzy and moody. The production reminds me of something that would be on Earl Sweat Shirt’s Soundcloud. There is a sample of rain playing though out the background of the track, which adds to this moody feel.
The bombastic energy of the project comes back hard with “Eeny Meeny Miny Moe.” The hook is admittedly a bit silly, but still catchy. The beat can best be described as lo-fi rave trap. It seems to have been made to be performed for mosh pits in concert or festival settings.
As stated previously, “Keep on Slippin (feat. Vic Mensa)” is the only track I have a real problem with. But, this doesn’t mean I completely dislike the track. In fact, this track probably has my favorite Groggs verses from the entire project. His lyrics deal with Groggs’ alcoholism, his friend’s OD, and other self-reflective topics.
The production in “Back Then” blends crowd noise into the beat and a bouncy uplifting melody that reminds me of something from D.R.A.M.’s Big Baby or Lil Yachty’s Lil Boat.
The closer to the album “Look Mama I Did It” was a sweet piano melody mixed in with 808’s and choral vocal samples in a very Kanye-esque way. The lyrics in Ritchie With a T’s verse also make reference to several Kanye songs.
I recommend the album to hip hop fans that enjoy underground, jazzy, or quirky hip hop production. Also, if you like hip hop with loud and aggressive delivery and sharp flow, I think this project is worth a listen. If you are someone who only listens to super conceptual albums, this album might be one to skip. But if you are just in the mood to listen to a collection of quality enjoyable hip hop tracks, then this album does the job.
Rating: A light 7