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For the Record: “Drive It Like It’s Stolen”

Courtesy of Pigeons and Planes

By NATE OBBARD

“Drive It Like It’s Stolen” is the new EP from hip-hop trio Injury Reserve, which consists of vocalists Stepa Groggs and Ritchie With a T and producer Parker Corey. The EP is the group’s third major project after their first two albums, 2015’s “Live From the Dentist Office” and 2016’s “Floss.”

While this project unfortunately does not continue in the tradition of oral-hygiene-based titles, it is the band’s most instrumentally and vocally inventive project so far. Unlike their earlier work, which was hallmarked by mid-2000s-esque piano hooks or trippy ballads, this EP, perhaps due to its decreased length, is packed full of inventive production that makes itself known – the beginning of the piece is full of in-your-face beats and in-your-face vocals to match. There is nothing soothing about the constant drips and banging drums of “See You Sweat,” nor will you find any comfort in the husky, slightly staccato rapping of Groggs and Ritchie, but the bluntness of the whole thing somehow works. Even as the work paces itself and eases down from its aggressive beginning, culminating in a wonderful stretch of slower tracks to close out the EP, the production and the vocals feel like they are fighting for your attention, resulting in an EP that is endlessly replayable.

The group does suffer from occasionally trying to mimic the sounds of other rappers – Ritchie can sound like he’s going for a bad Snoop impression, and Groggs oscillates between Pusha and Cyhi the Prince. Nonetheless, the EP offers several chances for these two to set themselves apart as vocalists, such as in “Boom (X3)” and “Colors.” Combine that with the production from Corey, endlessly inventive and always taking the listener to new, unexpected places, and you have what may be the strongest piece of work thus far from this sadly under-lauded trio.

Score: 8/10

Standout Tracks: “Boom (X3),” “North Pole, “Colors”

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