Sporadic, spazzed out, and rule-breaking; Injury Reserve is a shifting triple-headed monster of hip-hop lyricism and production that takes new twists and turns down the path to change the formula and create a different spectrum of style. Their first full-studio project, Floss is a mixture of odd, almost jungle production from Parker Corey, while two MC’s, Ritchie with A T, and Stepa J Groggs take over in an onslaught of fresh, but consistent tracks that cut through the hip-hop silence like a deadly blade.
Opening with the gentle piano chords of “Oh Shit!!!”, the turnstiles quickly shift with the warping synths that clang and bang over the gorgeous piano as both MC’s begin to take over. Ritchie with a T begins with a verse that conforms roughly over the sound explaining, “Oh Shit! They said ‘Man we want some more hits. Man, this sound like some shit from ‘06’”. Ritchie then explains, “I say this ain’t jazz rap, this that this that spazz rap, this that raised by the internet, ain’t had no dad rap…Watch your son and your daughter cause them pigs will snatch that”. Floss is a composition that takes thousands of different paths and is able to be surprising at every turn that it takes, as “Oh Shit!!!” starts to reach its second verse from Stepa J Groggs, the production begins to continue to playfully dance along with the chaos and truly begin to form under the pressure of the rhymes. Groggs describes, “Remember momma told me that I need to get my act together, ten years passed, the only difference is I’m rapping better”.
The then sudden transition into the following track, “Bad Boys 3” takes inspiration from what sounds similar to Kanye West’s work with the multiple vocal samples that work synonymous together to create the backing of the instrumental. It is also played collectively with this bouncing illustration of 808 keys that click along and boom behind the verses where Ritchie with a T can wittily describe, “Man, I’m dressed like Carlton, I’m the black Ben Carson…I say on my p’s and q’s like I cam from Figg, got it down to the T cause my name’s legit. Killing it since Motorola Razors paper thin”. Injury Reserve works well when the verses act as a tornado-tag-team effort and where the beat can perfectly shift right with the mostly brash style of both lyricists. There are moments however, where Injury Reserve can completely break the tension and let loose with a cut like, “S On Ya Chest” that takes the schizophrenic pressure away from the action, and instead take more of an uplifting approach.
With a beat that sounds from MF DOOM’s personal vault, “S On Ya Chest” is hopeful, showing the more proper side of Injury Reserve where they can ride a jazz influenced beat, making it into their own similar style. With the horns that play behind them, the phonetic sound of clicks and tongue flicks that create the most humanistic styled track on Floss. Groggs explains, “Ready to tour the world, I’m done with this local shit. If you got the crazy bars, then we the locoest. Say with an A’s fitted like Coco Crisp…I’m just a common man out here trying to do it for the people, looking at these rappers, I don’t see too many equals”. The outro then shows more signs of going back to the synthetic style as a quick, higher-pitched voice comes breaking through and spits a verse that is faster than any other verse on the rest of the album. It takes “S On Ya Chest” into a sudden silence.
The atmosphere on Floss is the best aspect of how it can describe a story perfectly and really feel as a story book. The movements and way that Injury Reserve can really capture the listener with each track, forming these different worlds within Floss is just simply incredible. They are an experimental mix that takes new sides in an all out war of creation in hip-hop. Injury Reserve takes large strides in expressionism, but never strays too far away to become irrational; they hit a perfect balance that is nearly impossible.