Injury Reserve Talk Their New EP 'Drive It Like It's Stolen'
Phoenix-made and LA-based trio Injury Reserve is coming in hot with their new EP, Drive It Like Its Stolen. The trio’s, comprised of rappers Stepa J. Groggs, Ritchie With a T, and producer Parker Corey, music is a combination of trap, jazz rap, and experimental, creating a one-of-a-kind sound. After collaborating with Vic Mensa and Cakes Da Killa on their last project, the guys have turned it up a notch on this new EP, finishing it in under a month. Cop a listen to the trio’s new EP and check out our interview with the guys below.
So, y’all’s album Drive It Like Its Stolen just came out, how are you feeling?
Stepa Good, so far. Very tired.
How are people taking it?
S Good, I think.
Ritchie It seems to be doing great, I think, so that’s exciting. We were trying to figure out the reception because the two singles that we dropped were so different from each other, like some people liked this song, some people liked that song, so it was kind of like we really weren’t quite sure, and because this is like a brand new record to us, it didn’t really feel like we were hitting a big finish line because the last record, we worked on a year and a half. But this record, we finished it so fast it didn’t really feel like a finish line.
Why did you guys finish it so fast compared to the last one?
R Well it’s shorter, but also, all we did was work on this. I didn’t have school or work, no one else has to work, I mean, we all live together now, so there were no other distractions.
Awesome. So, do you guys want to expand on the fact that you guys call your music “blue-collar rap”?
R We’ve said it as a reference to certain things, but we’ve never been like, “this is blue collar rap”. It’s starting to get dated, but people were starting to put onto us, because our first record we were just rapping about having jobs, and for some reason, it was refreshing to people that we weren’t rapping about the status quo, but rather rapping about everyday life. So, I think that’s why the whole blue-collar thing started going around. It was a line of mine that started to turn into a thing that people were using to describe us, but we personally were like…
S Yeah, I don’t think went out of our way to sound like “blue collar rappers,” it’s just truthful. It’s just who we were.
Cool. So is there a storyline or narrative that ties all the songs together?
R No, there’s no storyline or narrative, but there’s a sense of a sort of skeletal vibe that ties it all together, it’s pretty straightforward, we didn’t really go into it conceptually, or any type of idea that we wanted to be. We kind of just focused on each song individually and how we were feeling in those couple of weeks when we made the record, and it makes one piece if that makes sense.
Parker I think it’s more vibes rather than a specific narrative.
So you’ve done two big projects already with big collabs and features, is there any pressure to keep the momentum going or outdo what you’ve done already?
P Absolutely. If it stagnates, then it’s a sign that we’re not doing as good.
R Definitely. It’s so much larger than where we are—we know where we want to be. So if we started stagnating, then we’d feel defeating. We didn’t feel the pressure to have bigger features. We wanted to work with bigger and better people, the main goal was the music, and it’s as simple as that. This record has no rap features compared to the other two.
S Another thing we learned is that features are more of a cool thing. A feature is never going to make or break one of our projects.
R It’s about making the best song, and the opportunity to make the song the best it can be. We want the song to make a bigger impact. You might look at someone and say, oh, they have a bigger fan base, but we’re not going to collab just because of that. We want to make a better song or project.
Right. I know you guys moved from Phoenix to LA, and you recorded the EP in LA. So did that effect your music at all?
R I think that was the biggest effect.
P I think it was the opposite way. I think a lot of artists move to LA and write songs inspired by that, like summertime hits, but for us, we could have moved anywhere and made something similar. Like moving anywhere where we didn’t know a lot of people, just moving away from home and being isolated, so that’s why the record sounds so isolated, I guess.
R I guess, Parker’s already talked about it, but it was the biggest influence on the record in terms of shaping the tone. Environmentally, just being cooped up in one spot. Before, in Phoenix, we were much more comfortable, we had individual lives, we had families, and school, and work. But with this, we moved somewhere where we knew nobody, we’re not super duper social people, so we were just cooped up in a house. Maybe Los Angeles, the city itself, doesn’t have much to do with it but moving to a new place. Just being cooped up and doing nothing for two and a half, three weeks.
So what is the process, since there’s three of you guys? Like recording, making it, everything?
P It’s very back and forth. Like normally, a producer sends over a pack of beats. They play the beats in the studio, an artist picks one, they write a song, and then record something over it. Maybe they touch up some things, mix it, then that’s the song. But for us, it’s beats, vocals, we add things to the beat, oh, let’s try it with this beat, oh let’s record this instead, it’s very back and forth.
R There’s no formula. There are songs on the album where he sent over beats and we added vocals and made some tweaks, but there are songs on the album we recorded something on one song, and verses on another song, and then those two songs were combined, and a new beat was made. There’s no true formula because we want everything to be genuine. There’s no one thing or like things on a bulletin board. It’s about what naturally happens, or how the song naturally evolves. There’s one song that started off with just vocals, and he worked the production around it. But that’s rare because he’s creating a tone with production. It’s not very often where vocals come first, but it’s a very back and forth process.
So, what are y’all’s plans for the rest of the year? Touring?
S Touring! We start on the 6th.
Where are you excited to go?
S I really want to go back to DC, the food in DC was crazy.
R Chicago, I really like Chicago. I like out here [New York]. I thought tour was going to be really stressful, but I love it. I don’t like sitting on the music and releasing the music, but I love making the music. Touring is just fun being on the road, and just worrying about one thing.
Check out Injury Reserve’s new video for “See You Sweat” below.