I found out about Injury Reserve back in 2015 when their visual for “Everybody Knows” grabbed me through my PC. With a sheet of plexiglass and some creative camera work, they made one of the most entertaining music videos I had seen all year.
I loved the resourcefulness and the grimy DIY attitude, which you could feel emanating from these guys thicker than dental-grade alginate.”
The track was powered by exciting production that sounded modern without catering to worn out trends. It was filled with extremely clever, humorous, and self-aware bars. The song smacked you in the face and made you take notice. When Live from the Dentist Office dropped later that same year, it was wall-to-wall with songs which really left their mark on the listener. Throughout the album they continued to hone their unique sound and combine very modern hip hop energy with lyricism which, old heads who complain about mumble rappers and “the state of hip hop today,” could not deny. The album truly sounded like nothing else.
They followed up this release the very next year with Floss and proved they were one of the ones to keep up with. Both releases were easily top 10 of the year for me and I was really looking forward to Drive It Like It’s Stolen.
The show started off with the high energy “Oh Shit,” but this wasn’t the same old track from the album. Parker Corey was changing up the production on the live performance of these songs and really making them a new experience. It can be tricky, but I personally appreciate when artists go the extra mile and improvise. It makes the live performance feel unique and can really sell an artist as a live act you can’t miss. Parker was nailing it. His grittier live production amplified the excitement in the room.
Stepa J Groggs and Ritchie With a T came out wearing Ho99o9 t shirts, but halfway through the show Groggs changed into a glorious Golden Girls tee. Both MCs gave outstanding, impassioned performances the entire night. “North Pole” was an especially powerful moment with Ritchie pointing upward, his eyes closed, as he talked to his lost friend.
They played most of the Drive It Like It’s Stolen EP at this show, along with a pretty decent selection of songs from the previous two albums. The night ended with “ttktv” and Ritchie instructing everyone to, “Come fuck with us” over at the merch table.
I decided to head on over and take them up on the offer.
After getting my picture and complimenting Stepa Groggs on his amazing shirt, I asked if he minded answering a few questions.
He informed me that the darker sound of Drive It Like It’s Stolen was not really something they set out to do, but rather, was a result of the isolation they were feeling because of moving away from Arizona and all of their friends and family.
His verse on “Colors” was actually recorded while he was drunk. He had done a few takes on the verse, but wasn’t satisfied with how cheery it was sounding. So, Parker and Ritchie went out for a hike while he got drunk and let the emotion flow.”
He also told me the windshield busting scene in their video for “Boom (X3)” was inspired by an actual event where a friend of theirs got so mad one night that he smashed in a windshield with his hand.
I was floored on all the insight I received from Groggs, so I approached Parker Corey to talk about the show. One of the night’s highlights had been seeing him get everyone moving by jumping into the crowd during the performance of “Boom (X3).” He told me he’d really like to go all out with stage design for Injury Reserve. He has a real passion for it and wants to be known as one of the greatest stage designers of all time. Their show tonight truly was incredible, and I’d absolutely love to see what it could become when Parker gets a chance to run with his ideas. Two of his favorite stage designers are Tom Sachs (who works with Frank Ocean) and Es Devlin (who works with Kanye). He also said,
…his personal ethos is to try to outdo Kanye and he is driven by a kind of chip on his shoulder which makes him want to prove himself.”
When I talked to Ritchie, he commented on the polarizing nature of their records saying, he feels that it is kind of their job to polarize people from record to record. They got a lot of push back from fans when they released Floss. “People were telling us that it didn’t sound like us. We were being looked at as a resurgence of jazz rap with ‘Dentist Office’ and ‘Floss’ was a lot different. Now this record, Drive it Like It’s Stolen, is so stripped down and some people are thrown off by that.” A personal high moment on the new EP for Ritchie is the opening track, “Ten Tenths.” That song is probably the starkest example of the minimalistic nature of the album. “If I heard this song as a fan I would freak out. I’d be like what the fuck is this? Because of how jarring it is. That song is my favorite moment that we’ve ever created.” He also makes the point,
People need to understand that just because it’s not as much, doesn’t mean it’s not as good.”
Ritchie confirms what Groggs told me about the darker sound of the new EP, stating that it wasn’t calculated, but that they didn’t want to make the same album twice. He credits “North Pole” and “Colors” as kind of setting the whole theme of the record. “It’s really simple honestly,” he says “how it feels is how we felt.”
Ritchie approaches music like a sport.
There are people with almost perfect discographies and you shouldn’t do music if it’s not a sport to you. If you don’t want to make the best album of all time, then there’s no reason to be in it. You just hope that you make the best album ever and play it day by day, song by song. We’re not here just to be fans or make friends. We’re here to make the best shit we can possibly make, and you have to believe in yourself to make the best record you can make.”
Coming for your spot, Kayne. Injury Reserve 2020.
LIVE REVIEW: Injury Reserve | The Social, Orlando, FL 2017 by Marvel Mills
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