Injury Reserve – “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” review

This is the 4th mixtape from Arizona duo Injury Reserve. Originally coming together as a trio in 2013, it wasn’t until Floss & Drive It Like It’s Stolen where most people (myself included) really started tuning into them. It was really cool how the guys brought their own hardcore west coast sound to the table with a bit of an experimental edge that would later come full circle on their full-length debut a couple years back. But with the unexpected death of Stepa J. Groggs last summer, Ritchie with a T & Parker Corey are coming back together for By the Time I Get to Phoenix.

“Outside” is a 6-minute opener dabbling in electronics saying they’ve been talking to ’em kindly whereas “Superman That” takes a glitchier route going on about how there “ain’t no savin’ me or you”. ZelooperZ tags along for the guitar-driven “SS San Francisco” with him & Ritchie expressing their desire to not want to be there anymore just before “Footwork in a Forest Fire” reveals itself as amongst my favorite Injury Reserve songs ever made, with them manically depicting an apocalypse ever so flawlessly.

Meanwhile on “Ground 0”, we get a deranged cut detailing how he “got my shit buss down” leading into the dissonant “Smoke Don’t Clear” putting their own spin on the idiom “when the smoke clears”. The drumless instrumental that “Top Picks for You” brings to the table is entrancing as Hell with Ritchie going on about how “your patterns are still in place & your algorithm is still in action”, but then “Wild Wild West” takes a more sporadic route sonically referencing the shitty Will Smith movie of the same name fittingly enough.

The song “Postpostpartum” psychedelically goes in about birthing motherfuckers while the penultimate track “Knees” takes a turn into experimental rock territory with the group asking if there’s any way they can grow. “Bye Storm” ends the tape with some blaring guitars & Ritchie saying the show must go on even though Stepa is no longer with him or Parker in the flesh.

Given the events that have transpired within the past year or so, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that By the Time I Get to Phoenix would become Injury Reserve’s darkest body of work to date. Parker Corey’s production is absolutely out of this world & Ritchie couldn’t have done a more excellent job at paying his final respects to Stepa.

Score: 4.5/5

Injury Reserve – Self-titled review

Injury Reserve is a hip hop trio from Tempe, Arizona consisting of Stepa J. Groggs, Ritchie With a T & Parker Corey. I first caught wind of them in 2016 with release of their 3rd mixtape Floss. They then followed it up with their 2nd EP Drive It Like It’s Stolen & while both were equally dope, I was really curious to see what they would do on their full-length debut over here.

It all kicks off with “Koruna & Lime”, where the trio reflect on all it took to get where they are today over an deconstructed club instrumental. The next song “Jawbreaker” with Rico Nasty gets conscious over a vibraphone & some handclaps while the track “G.T.F.U. (Get The Fuck Up)” with JPEGMAFIA & Cakes da Killa sees the 3 getting confrontational over a beat that starts off gritty, but then transitions into something smoother. After the “QWERTY” interlude, we go into the song “Jailbreak the Tesla”. Where the trio team up with Aminé to make a dedication to the titular car brand over a bassy instrumental. The track “Gravy n Biscuits” talks about how everything’s alright with a mellow piano throughout while the “Rap Song Tutorial” is a repetitive yet very clever cut teaching those at home how to make a hip hop tune.

The track “Wax On” with Freddie Gibbs talks about getting their money up over a meditative beat while the song “What a Year It’s Been” reflects on their newfound success over a chaotic beat. The track “Hello?!” is more of a unfinished yet melodic interlude while the song “Best Spot in the House” gets introspective over a somber beat. The penultimate track “New Hawaii” with DRAM is a peaceful love ballad & then the album finishes with “3 Man Weave”, where the trio get triumphant over a jazzy beat.

Overall, this was just as solid as their last 2 releases & it gives the new listeners a good glimpse at who they are. The instrumentals are well-put together, it sounds passionate & they continue to solidify themselves as fresh faces in the experimental hip hop scene

Score: 4/5