Oh Shit! Goes the infectious hook that i've had on repeat ever since I discovered the Arizona 'Spazz Rap' collective: Injury Reserve, late last year. For me the classic tape, 'Live From The Dentists Office' and the debut Full Length LP 'Floss' have shown me how new wave hip-hop projects should be made, with every track delivering what the last didn't, and painting a picture like I hadn't seen since 'Good kid, m.A.A.d City'. Despite this, the outsider status that seems self enforced by the group, (their name indicating they're simply substitutes) also stems from their appearance out of Phoenix, a town not known for its recent hip-hop greats.
This fact and the experimental jazz rap style production from Parker Corey contribute to Injury Reserve's under the radar reception from the internet, with some of the world's fasted growing artists on the planet taking most of the limelight. These acts, mainly blowing up in the cities of Atlanta, Philadelphia and LA, saturate most our instagram and snapchat feeds with their everyday reactions to their recent fame, tending to only welcome in new rappers if they sound almost identical. The fans of these artists seem unphased by this (which isn't a bad thing), hailing each new 'mumble rapper' on the scene as the next big thing.
Injury Reserve's fans on the other hand have learned well to grow up with the style of these artists as Stepa Groggs and Ritchie With a T blend 'mumble rap' and jazz rap together, occasionally letting the boom of 808s and tight snares propel their songs into everyone else's comfort zone. Although, some might take that as a compromise of their sound to appeal to wider audiences, with this group it seems much less contrived and provides for both MC's natural flows. These flows also deliver the more classically laid back and thoughtful lyricism of the projects, seemingly without the help of xannax. The effect of this gives an honesty to Injury Reserve, a theme that is again backed up by the humble naming of the trio.
When spitting bars about appealing to white fans or dismissing the people who doubted them, the group skips over intricate instrumentals with a refreshingly happy-go-lucky flow. And the age gap between 22 year old Ritchie and 28 year old Groggs allows for differing and uniquely versatile perspectives on the subject matter of tracks, drawing contrasts within their own rap group as they go back to back. If this wasn't enough, the band even look a hundred miles away from the braids and piercings of Hip-Hop's current usual suspects, with their photo-shoots and previous cover arts returning to their honest routes and giving us a personal feel for the characters that we're hearing. For whatever reason, it has been long debated that Injury Reserve have not been given the praise they deserve and should have captivated the world by now. Even with a shoutout from Billboard the trio stay firmly at the back of the shelf where all us wanky, eclectic hip-hop fans sit and pretend that we want our favourite artists to succeed when really we'd like to keep it this way.
The day that the world discovers this article (amongst every other rant about how this band isn't blowing up) and Injury Reserve do take over the world, they can humbly replace their substitute title with a better sport reference than 'The Impact Players'.
Guest Blogger: Charlie Ellis