Updated: Jun 18, 2019
Injury Reserve are known for their unique blend of industrial hip-hop and jazz rap that makes for a dynamic experience when performed live. The Arizona trio’s set opens with ‘Koruna & Lime’, a song that features distortion and mechanical effects. It closes with ‘Three Man Weave’, a song that features a (recording of a) clarinet and traditional drum kit. Getting from the former to latter without jarring an audience would be a difficult task for any MC. Thankfully, Injury Reserve doesn’t just have any MC. It has two great ones.
Stepa J. Groggs and Ritchie With a T are energetic rappers that perform with a great degree of technical skill. A rapper can sound great on record thanks to multiple takes and punch in vocals but it is not uncommon for the same rapper to exhaust themselves after fifteen minutes of live performance. To see Groggs and Ritchie rap for an hour, over industrial beats and jazz instrumentals, without misplacing a breath, is a sight to behold. The group’s producer, Parker Corey, takes up DJ duties for the show. Although the architect behind Injury Reserve’s sound, he appears as a quiet figure, leaving the showy part of the performance to his colleagues.
And it is a showy performance. There is a fantastic moment part way through the set. 'Eeny Meeny Miny Moe’, taken from the trio’s second commercial mixtape and featuring a traditional hook-verse-hook structure, is repurposed into a thrilling set piece. The song’s hook criticises the music industry for cycling through new young rappers as a disposable commodity:
Eeny meeny miney moe, yeah, yeah, yeah
Catch a rapper at his show, yeah, yeah, yeah
Couple dollars let him blow, yeah, yeah, yeah
Who’s up next? I don’t know, yeah, yeah, yeah
Ritchie performs the hook over and over without beginning the verse, as the crowd shouts “yeah yeah, yeah” louder and louder in response. Underneath Ritchie, the instrumental changes to a drone. A singular noise that grows louder with the crowd. The lights begin to strobe. Once Ritchie has performed the hook for what seems like the hundredth time, the crowd is almost louder than Ritchie. It is a euphoric moment that is a highlight of the show.
If you are looking for raw, high energy rap show that blends two disparate genres by putting on a dynamic performance, see Injury Reserve. You will not regret it.