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Injury Reserve

Arizona-based alternative rap trio Injury Reserve initially appeared to update the jazz-influenced style of golden age hip-hop acts like A Tribe Called Quest and Black Sheep, before gradually developing a much more challenging, experimental sound. The group earned an underground following for releases like the 2016 mixtape Floss, which were playful and exuberant, relating stories of everyday events and daily struggles, while also urgent and socially conscious, criticizing the music industry and addressing issues such as racism. Their 2019 self-titled full-length was notably more abstract than their previous work, and the group fully embraced a more jarring, deconstructed avant-rap style with 2021's dystopian By the Time I Get to Phoenix. Consisting of MCs Ritchie with a T and Stepa J. Groggs, and producer Parker Corey, Injury Reserve formed in Tempe in 2013 and released their debut mixtape, Depth Chart, that year, with the EP Cooler Colors following in 2014. The releases featured heavy boom-bap production, but by the time the group issued Live from the Dentist Office in 2015, their sound was slightly mellower and jazzier. Featuring guest appearances by Chuck Inglish (of the Cool Kids) and Demi Hughes, the self-released mixtape was critically acclaimed and garnered the group a word-of-mouth following. In 2016, Injury Reserve released the singles "Oh Shit!!!" and "All This Money." Both songs appeared on Floss, which was released at the end of 2016. The mixtape included guest appearances by Vic Mensa and Cakes da Killa, and featured more varied production, ranging from caustic trap to dreamy chillwave. Following 2017's brisk set Drive It Like It's Stolen, the crew released their first official LP in 2019. Injury Reserve featured appearances by Rico Nasty, JPEGMAFIA, Amine, Freddie Gibbs, DRAM, and more. Stepa J. Groggs died on June 29, 2020 at the age of 32. By the Time I Get to Phoenix, the group's second album, was released in September 2021. Primarily recorded before Groggs' passing, the set was a major departure from their previous releases, with fractured, dissonant production and lyrics focusing on death, mortality, and hopelessness. The release featured guest appearances and production by ZelooperZ (Bruiser Brigade), Morgan Simpson (black midi), Body Meat, and Jam City, among others.
© Paul Simpson /TiVo


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