One of the main aspects I look for in an album is creativity. Creativity is something that’s vital to this music industry as it keeps everything changing, provides genre defining moments, and can potentially change music forever. Following the norm may be a safe strategy, but that boldness and bravery, to strive for something more, to take a large risk on your full-length project, to provide something that could either be a hit or a miss, is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted as it’s understandably a hard thing to accomplish. “Injury Reserve” took that creative risk and accomplished their goal by smashing it out of the park with this amazing album.
There’s something about “Injury Reserve” that is so fascinating to me. This album instantly enthralled me within my first listen. Why’s that? The attention to detail on here is riveting. There’s never a specific point and time where I feel like any of the tracks are missing anything, basically saying there aren’t any glaring flaws. Although not missing anything, there are different things that can be improved, but when looking at the context that this is their debut album, it’s impressive to say that this is their debut. Even from their mixtapes, they’ve shown improvement, so it shows that there can be better from them, but “Injury Reserve” has nothing to complain about.
With this album, there is a mix of beauty and madness. I think this is easily displayed with the outro of the song “GTFU (Get The Fuck Up)” featuring the likes of JPEGMAFIA and Cakes da Killa. The distorted sounds of pitch-shifted voices, blaring over a beautiful yet simplistic beat with soft vocals, it perfectly describes what you’re entailed for with this album. Chaos but with soft undertones. There surprisingly isn’t a stronger/softer moment here, as they all meld together and fit together, seemingly with the same quality at all times. There’s never a time where it feels lackluster, a waste of potential, or not “living up” to a standard, because this whole album, in my opinion, is a standard setter for what I want to hear in hip hop. Heartfelt moments like “Best Spot in The House” on top of out there fun songs like “Jailbreak The Tesla”, they simultaneously have a clear and unclear focus, which I feel is really enjoyable. It makes this album easily accessible and likeable, and also coheres into feeling like a traditional project.
There are multiple factors to this LP that really appeals to me. There’s quite a complexity to the production, and I really gravitated to the more peculiar sounding instrumentals as it perplexed me to how much I enjoyed it. Standing alone, they aren’t as good without the performances on the album. I feel the trio add a lot of power/charisma to the album, and you can’t really imagine this album being performed by another group of people. It seems perfectly inbound to their style, and if it weren’t for them, this wouldn’t sound nearly the same, or at the same quality it is at now. Usually albums under utilize their feature performances, usually exceeding them in how they sound, but with “Injury Reserve”, they hand-picked people who would have direct chemistry with the trio, and they often sound like they’re part of the group, rather being a feature. They don’t under-perform, they do their part by living up to their own standards and to the groups standards. Two standout features for me here are Aminé and JPEGMAFIA, each of them sounding like they can pass as part of the trio more than the other features like Rico Nasty, which I have to add, is one of the first times I’ve liked a song by her. When you can make another artist that I don’t typically enjoy sound amazing on your song, it’s magical, and shows true talent.
The main reason why I love this album is the trio themselves, Injury Reserve. A self-titled album is supposed to be something that defines your music as a whole, and can often be the starting base of your career. It’s supposed to take some of the best parts of your music into one, and let new listeners know what you’re about and what you’re offering to the music industry. This album completely did it, and it couldn’t be without their raw talent. A lot of people would say that their mixtapes are some of their material, but I would beg to differ. Their debut self-titled album is their most refined and is a collection of songs that are immersive and intriguing from every second of its length. This is their defining moment. They catered to us some of their strongest production, fitting features, simultaneously heartfelt/beautiful and lively/witty performances, and overall their most enjoyable project even with the pressure and highly set standards of their previous two mixtapes, and that’s impressive.
Injury Reserve was able to establish and implant themselves as a highly regarded group of musicians in just one album, in fact, their self-titled album. Even with that, the high score, and some of the praise, they are still an underappreciated band for so many reasons. In the decade of the 2010’s, for rap there are many standalone albums that are arguably some of the best of all time and they set new standards for the genre, but I feel this album was left in the dust too quickly for me to fathom. Although I do agree with a lot of the albums that people feel define rap like TPAB and Atrocity Exhibition, and arguably they do the job better, I think Injury Reserve should be mentioned more often in that list. One of the strongest debuts ever. Usually most have to work for years toward their magnum opus, but I feel Injury Reserve smashed it in one go.
But I could be really wrong. What I mean by that, is that they can be so much better than they are now. Hopefully there are projects coming in the near future, I can’t wait to see what new direction they take, and I feel it’ll be a great one as well.
Favorite Tracks: Koruna & Lime, Jawbreaker, GTFU, Jailbreak the Tesla, Gravy n’ Biscuits,Wax On, What A Year It’s Been, Hello?1, Three Man Weave
Least Favorite Tracks: None