Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: Injury Reserve battles grief on new album 'By the Time I Get To Phoenix'

Injury Reserve released its second studio album "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" on Sept. 15, 2021.
Injury Reserve released its second studio album "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" on Sept. 15, 2021.

Going into Arizona-based rap group Injury Reserve’s second studio album, “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” I expected to hear an experimental album. Instead I listened to an incredible album consisting of a dark apocalyptic production mixed with beautiful verses full of frenzied emotions. 

The album was released Sept. 15. Its first self-titled album, “Injury Reserve,” was released in May 2019. I was curious about how they would handle the death of late founding member Jordan Groggs, who was a major member on the group’s previous works. I felt that it was a very fitting sendoff to the rapper, who was always known for his love of weird and different musical styles.

Groggs, known as Steppa J. Groggs, who tragically passed away in June 2020, has vocals featured on the album.  

The album opens with the song “Outside,” where Parker Corey produces a nightmarish beat almost completely drowning out Nathaniel Ritchie’s rapping. Ritchie sounds distressed, seemingly questioning how much time he has left on Earth. This sets up the main idea of the album — dealing with death and the emotions.

Later in the album, “Footwork In A Forest Fire” gives us one of the only full-length verses from Groggs. His verse, which was recorded during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, perfectly captures the paranoia of the early months of the pandemic.  

The song “Superman That” is another great show of Corey’s production with the disoriented, almost glitchy feel of the song. Ritchie seems to be mumbling about how no one can save him from his past mistakes, pairing perfectly with the beat.  

It becomes more apparent Ritchie is addressing Groggs death more and more as the album continues. 

On the track, “Top Picks For You,” Ritchie raps about how he has to grieve with loss. “Knees” features the last verse from Groggs, and the song is one of the most gut-wrenching on the album. It deals with growth and wishing one can grow past things. Groggs’s verse hits the hardest as he talks about his struggles with alcoholism. 

The final song is titled “Bye Storm” and is one of the saddest songs on the album. Ritchie raps about the feeling of grief, comparing it to a storm. He talks about how he has to continue moving forward after Groggs death but is still struggling with it, rapping, “It rains, it pours, but, damn, man, it's really pouring”. 

Injury Reserve fully encapsulated grief and nightmarish production to give us an album showing their mindset during this time of grief. The album is a crowning achievement in experimental hip-hop and one that I’m sure Groggs would be proud of.

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