Only 9 months after the release of their debut album “Floss”, the Phoenix rap crew is back with a 7 song EP featuring some of their best work to date. The trio is made up of rappers Ritchie With a T and Groggs, as well as producer Parker Corey. “Floss” was a monumental project for the trio, with underground hits like “Oh Shit” and “All This Money”. By then they had already gained some listeners from their previous mixtape “Live At The Dentist Office”, but “Floss” created the group’s seminal sound. The flows and lyrics of Ritchie and Groggs had grown and their chemistry was a perfect balance. Now, their newest project “Drive It Like It’s Stolen” shows growth in the group’s dynamic and delivery.
Lyrically, the group shows significant growth in their content and delivery. Ritchie delivers some memorable verses and hooks on this project. An example of this is on the song “BOOM X3”, where he drops this verse showing the hypocrisy in anti-ghostwriting hip hop fans. Similarly, on the song “Colors” his hook is genius and plays on the idea of color. Lines like “But I’ve been blue since Sandra Bland was murdered in jail, And we know black and browns ain’t living as well” shows their growth in writing since the last project. On “North Pole”, both of them deliver amazing and personal verses. Groggs raps a well-structured verse about loneliness and Ritchie drops a deeply personal verse about his father and deceased friend. Additionally, the Austin Feinstein feature only increases the ethereal and solemn tone of the song.
Parker Corey’s production has changed very little since “Floss” and he continues to use the skeletal dark bass heavy beats. However on “Drive It Like It’s Stolen” his production flips between extremely experimental like on the opening track “TenTenths” and mainstream hip hop beats like on “See You Sweat”. The bouncing bass and grandiose instrumental on “See You Sweat” sounds like a beat that Big Sean or A$AP Rocky would ride perfectly. The “North Pole” beat sounds very different and doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the instrumentals on the EP. The production from this song features a slow acoustic guitar and a quiet bass, which doesn’t transition well with the skeletal production on the next song.
Right now, Injury Reserve is at a special place in their career. Their fan base is steadily growing and all of their work is becoming critically acclaimed. However, the label that they seem to hate being referred to is a “jazz rap group”. On the opening track of “Floss”, they scream the lines “This ain’t jazz rap, this that spaz rap” and on DILIS the group completely deviates from that label. There isn’t a single moment on this project where jazz has any influence on their music. DILIS seems to be more influenced by experimental hip hop acts like Danny Brown over jazz rap artists like Kendrick Lamar. The group is deciding their own fate as artists and this EP shows they are only growing. While their production needs to be more cohesive, their lyrics and chemistry is at a high right now