Injury Reserve boundlessly creates their own audio palette on their impressive album "Injury Reserve"
Written by Darshak Chudasama
MLM Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars
Erase the jazz you’d find splattered all over Injury Reserve’s previous material and highlight the, well highlight a bunch of things. Start by highlighting Parker’s simplistic chaos. Highlight Ritchie’s new developed aptitude as an MC and Grogg’s storytelling that ages like wine. The list could easily go on. Injury Reserve is the dime you’d find digging through a bunch of low-key records without having a single clue of what you were about to experience. Trying to categorize this thing is virtually impossible.
We’d have to broaden the scope to alternative hip hop, but zooming in any more could be a stretch. The trio wanted to escape from any labels that were previously stamped on them and Injury Reserve is a perfect start. Parker’s beats are just slow enough that if the rest of the crew feels like groovin’ over the beats, they can, and just fast enough to where they can also show their speed.
The album opens with “Koruna & Lime,” a slightly slower track that revolves around 2 piano keys in a 3 note loop. Richie’s voice here is constantly distorted, with looping screams in the background and brief horn screeches. The following “Jawbreaker” is quicker and much more aggressive. Again, we have another melodic loop, this time carried out by a playful xylophone. This track couldn’t be mentioned without acknowledging Rico Nasty’s nasty verse. In the short period that she’s featured on the track, she brings an energy that resonates till the end. Rico raps about breaking stereotypes she faces as a black woman and gave us yet another snippet of her empowering badassery.
“Injury Reserve is the dime you’d find digging through a bunch of low-key records without having a single clue of what you were about to experience. Trying to categorize this thing is virtually impossible.”
“Jailbreak the Tesla” was pretty much inevitable after the group featured on Amine’s “Campfire,” an ode to Aminé’s red Mercedes Benz. This time instead, Richie and Aminé rap about customizing a Tesla and it definitely feels like something off a Fast & Furious soundtrack. Injury Reserve shattered the current creative standard in hip hop to pieces with “Rap Song Tutorial,” a satire which takes us through the journey of making a modern hip hop song. The second half of Injury Reserve is much more personal than what’s heard so far. On “What A Year It’s Been,” Groggs speaks about a period of low motivation that resulted into excessive drinking. And on “Best Spot in the House,” Richie reveals the pressures of being put on a pedestal by some of his fans.
Though there are a bunch of high points, the problem with this album is the low replay value. It feels as if you can go through the album once and retain as much as you need from it. Another issue that most, include myself, has is the under usage of JPEGMAFIA on “GTFU.” Most of us were itching for JPEGMAFIA to enter with some heat!
Nonetheless, the group’s newest release dabs into a creative space that leaves traditional hip hop heads dumbfounded. It is unquestionably the group’s most experimental project and I’m excited to see what these new doors lead to.
Stream the new album below.