PRESS PLAY REVIEW: Injury Reserve breathes new life into the hip-hop scene with new EP

Ritchie with a T of the Arizona rap trio Injury Reserve performs at the Velvet Underground in Toronto. Internet Photo

Ritchie with a T of the Arizona rap trio Injury Reserve performs at the Velvet Underground in Toronto. Internet Photo

By Kenneth Edison, Editor-in-Chief
Follow him at @krazo1

In an era of hip hop that is torn between the old heads of yesteryear and the hyper-energetic mumble rappers of the new generation, very few acts please both sides as effectively as Injury Reserve. The Arizona rap trio Injury Reserve has been an up and coming force in hip hop since their first full length project “Live From The Dentist Office” back in 2015, and their newest EP “Drive It Like It’s Stolen” will undoubtedly push them closer to mainstream recognition. 

“Drive It Like It’s Stolen” is a seven track EP that was released on Friday, Sept. 29 as a follow up to Injury Reserve’s 2016 debut studio album “Floss.” Though it’s only a 23 minute assortment of tracks, it still gives fans of the trio another dose of their unique jazzy style paired with a new-school trap influence.

The first two tracks illustrate what makes Injury Reserve so unique. The juxtaposition of low key lyric driven tracks like the EP’s opener “Ten Tenths” and energetic club bangers like the second track “See You Sweat” make Injury Reserve so easy to listen to. They can consistantly produce witty bars with an old school jazz rap charm while then transitioning into trap influenced singles that still manage to stand out amongst their contemporaries.  

These two seemingly incompatible styles mix most emphatically in the track “Boom(X3)” which features a booming bassline that blares over a soft piano melody. The song also provides a humorous take on the various ways in which modern rappers are viewed by critics. In the track, Ritchie with a T satirizes older rap listenersthat criticize new artists for having ghostwriters while pointing out that Ice Cube ghostwrote “Boyz-n-the-Hood.”   

And yet, despite the trio’s clear view of themselves as lively modern rappers, they don’t shy away from diving into somber territory with tracks like “North Pole.” This track features a quiet guitar melody backed with a slow drum beat and background vocals that almost sound ghostly. The lyrical content is some of Injury Reserve’s saddest stuff, with Groggs rapping about having his child taken away by CPS and Ritchie with a T dropping bars about his late father. 

Injury Reserve has been a unique act since the beginning, managing to put themselves in a lane of their own, but with this EP they’ve put another layer on their work. Aside from the witty jazz rap they’re known for, “Drive It Like It’s Stolen” introduces a new glitchy, electronic sound to their repertoire. Though this was not a full album release, this project sends a definitive message to the hip-hop world: there’s a new major player in the game.