Injury Reserve
Injury Reserve


4.2
excellent

Review

by BlushfulHippocrene STAFF
May 21st, 2019 | 94 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Wax on, wax off, wax on, wax off, wait

Mid-album interlude 'Rap Song Tutorial' has, I think, two major functions. It operates, on the one hand, as a flex: between the drones of a text-to-speech bot, dictating a number (7) of instructions (pursuant to the song's title), a beat, hook and verse are assembled -- a song in a matter of minutes, and an impressive one at that. It is, on the other hand, a reduction of the trio's sound -- not least of which their self-titled, debut album -- a means of self-effacement, and a chance to poke fun at its self-seriousness. It’s a dichotomisation that lies at the heart of what is the Arizonan trio's most definitive project to date -- their first official “album” (as loaded as that term is within the modern hip-hop context, the reader will know), and their first work under the Loma Vista label. It informs, to some extent or another, the album's sound, themes and content, and is what distinguishes the group from their peers.

Nowhere is this more apparent than on closer, 'Three Man Weave', a jazz-rap marvel on which Ritchie with a T spits: "[T]oo pretentious for some Migos / Then Phonte made a song with Lil B, though", in which he references the BasedGod's 9th Wonder-produced, Phonte-featuring 'Based 4 Ya Face' -- a song that, for him, eradicates the distinction between internet (and pop) rap and “serious (or real) hip-hop”. It's from within this context that much of the album can be interpreted -- and from which much fun is to be had. On mid-album highlight 'Gravy n' Biscuits', for instance, Ritchie and (Stepa J) Groggs -- the duo at the album's core -- craft a hook that is as sing-song as it is sarcastic. Atop boom-bap snare smacks and liquid-smooth piano flourishes -- courtesy of mastermind-producer Parker Corey -- Groggs delivers the bounciest of verses, referencing for the second time on the album OutKast's 'Humble Mumble'. (An apt allusion, I think, given André 3000 and Big Boi's own liberalities with hip-hop's so-called sub-genres.) When Ritchie takes over, however, there is a noticeable shift in the beat: a distorted vocal pattern weaves in an out of his verse, poisoning it, and so reflecting the erratic flare of his often-cut-throat delivery. Despite a growing disjunct between the distinct styles of Groggs and Ritchie -- illustrating a conflict of sorts between the old and the new -- Injury Reserve is as cohesive a hip-hop album as one can hope. This is thanks, in large part, to Parker’s ever-so-versatile production, though also, I think, Groggs’ and, in particular, Ritchie’s growing scepticism with modern hip-hop culture, and a heightened awareness of its pretensions.

It is, on the third of the album's movements, a scepticism that's directed inward. On 'Best Spot in the House', Ritchie questions the motives behind Drive it Like it's Stolen's 'North Pole', as well as the influence he has on his listeners:
“And I hear them say that it was beautiful
But to me, man, that shit was inexcusable
To talk about a death and not go to the funeral”
Let's be clear. Introspection isn't new. Even within the context of modern hip-hop, 'Best Spot in the House' offers far from a unique perspective, postdating Kendrick's 'I', for one, and I'm sure dozens of equivalents. Likewise, Injury Reserve is, without a doubt, an album within the hip-hop tradition. What makes the trio so interesting, then, is something outside of their unique position within the genre's movements -- outside, moreover, of their purported claim to "experimentation". It's an understanding of their craft -- an acceptance of its boundaries -- and a willingness to grow. It is, at once, an open-mindedness, and a readiness to cut through the bullshit -- a sound that undercuts pretention with humour, humour with consequence, and consequence with growth.




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user ratings (153)
Chart.
3.7
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
AaroN911
May 21st 2019


2479 Comments


I really need to give this a listen, loved Floss, nice review!

Digging: Mol - JORD

JeetJeet
May 21st 2019


6675 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Rap aoty for me so far.

Digging: Flying Lotus - Flamagra

BigTuna
May 21st 2019


5319 Comments


I heard Wax On and it goes off so I'm excited to listen to this. Really wonderful review!

Digging: Burial - Claustro/State Forest

50iL
May 21st 2019


5196 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

damn, dis good

Digging: Dmitri Shostakovich - The String Quartets

guitarded_chuck
May 21st 2019


17890 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

never been a big fan but this is fire

guitarded_chuck
May 21st 2019


17890 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

what brockhampton wish they were: the album

JeetJeet
May 21st 2019


6675 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Everyone is hype about Tyler's Igor, but this was the superior album that dropped that day.

guitarded_chuck
May 21st 2019


17890 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

amen



normies gonna norm

WatchItExplode
May 21st 2019


6779 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I was curious about this. Blush endorsement sold it.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2019


17199 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

listening now--love when rico nasty comes through

bloc
May 21st 2019


55964 Comments


Downloaded this randomly today, let's see what happens

Digging: Paris - Sleeping with the Enemy

guitarded_chuck
May 21st 2019


17890 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

congrats on a great decision

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2019


2908 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

What are your favourite songs/moments? Feel like this is just highlight after highlight.

Digging: Behaving - Behaving

WatchItExplode
May 21st 2019


6779 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I loved everything on the back half on 1st listen. Need to give it another go when I can focus more attention on it.



Never mind, just realized my player was on shuffle. Will start again from scratch.

Gyromania
May 21st 2019


27561 Comments


Will check out the review in a bit. Apparently this is the current rap aoty. Colour me intrigued. Was just saying to Rowan that this year's been kinda bereft of great rap

Digging: black midi - Schlagenheim

JeetJeet
May 21st 2019


6675 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@Blush Jawbreaker, Best Spot In The House, New Hawaii, Gibb's verse on Wax On, Gravy n Biscuits, all high points for me. Also love how hard Rap Tutorial sounds when the hook & verse comes into the song.

Ryus
May 21st 2019


17683 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

never really loved them but im pretty impressed w this

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2019


2908 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Never mind, just realized my player was on shuffle. Will start again from scratch."

I love you.

Cheers Gyro, let me know what you think. And have you checked new billy woods? Would highly recommend.

@Jeet, yes. Couldn't agree more, some of the best. Ritchie's verse on What a Year It's Been is incredible, too. The bit where he reincorporates "You Mr Me Toos, I'm Mr Miyagi": so, so good. In fact, the references on this are insane -- it's in the production, too: Best Spot in the House sounds an awful lot like North Pole; What a Year It's Been like Washed Up; then there's that obvious one on Koruna and Lime -- "they say they want that spaz rap". Album's seriously dense at times -- despite being the funnest thing ever.

encomium
May 21st 2019


32 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

how the fuck is this anything like Brockhampton lol Brockhampton bandwagon hate is stupid

encomium
May 21st 2019


32 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

also yup this is better than Igor



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