Q&A: Rap trio Injury Reserve discusses how they found their sound and separate themselves from the pack

Chris Duncan

Phoenix hip-hop act Injury Reserve, which includes rapper Ritchie with a T, rapper Steppa J Groggs and producer Parker Corey, has grown in popularity due to their balance of serious subjects and fun bars on their self-proclaimed first mixtape Live From The Dentist Office. The Daily Texan spoke with the trio about their upcoming appearance at South by Southwest, their influences and exclusive merchandise releases.

The Daily Texan: How did you guys meet?

  • Ritchie: I was rapping on my own with a different collective. It wasn’t good at all, but I found out about Parker and his beats and we worked on a mixtape.  I had known Groggs through my mom, and we were close because he would always give her albums to give to me to listen to. I knew that he had rapped, so one time I came to his work and asked him to be on a song. He got on the song, which was the first song that the three of us did together. 

DT: You guys certainly changed your style from what is on that first project to a more alternative rap. 

  • Ritchie: Cooler Colors was mostly us trying to replicate our favorite artists, and we found that really corny. When me and Parker critique people, we’ll say “Oh that guy sounds like this guy” and then we were realized we’re total hypocrites. Live from the Dentist was us finding our own sound, and that’s why we call that the first actual Injury Reserve project, because the music’s original and it gets at our personalities.

DT: Do you still have those other hip-hop artists you feed off of or are you purely going for something no one’s ever heard before?

  • Ritchie: There’s having your influences and then there’s copying your influences. The more and more you’re honest with yourself and do whatever you just naturally want to do, the less you’ll copy people. Honestly, we’re super influenced. Parker, who would say the new record is more or less influenced by?

Parker: Pharrell, Arca, Death Grips, that’s all I can think of. The biggest thing we’ve always strived for, at least for the last record, is to start worrying about genre art types, whether that’s jazz rap or alt rap, to make stuff that’s really accessible and you could hear on the radio, but fucks your head up.

  • DT: You guys pair your music with merchandise. Do you think because your music is free, it’s necessary to have that merchandise component?

Ritchie: That’s a really cool question. I’m not gonna act like finances are totally out of the picture, but we do it because we think it’s really cool. With the new drop we have a boy band poster, and we think that’s so awesome. If it was purely off money, then we’d do little shitty shirts and stuff that we know we could price well and make a lot of. It’s kinda similar to the way we do our music videos. We do things the way that other people aren’t right now.

  • DT: As for upcoming material from you guys, is there a time table for any releases?

PC: We really don’t even know ourselves when it’s gonna come out. We want to be prepared, all the way through.

  • Ritchie: We actually don’t have a problem being silent right now. I know some people have said that we’re too low key, but that’s the way we approach things. When it starts coming back around to our time, everything’s going to be crazy.

DT: This is your second time at South by Southwest, what are you guys looking forward to this year compared to last?

  • Ritchie: Being cooler than we were then. When we went the first time I had just recently cut my hair for the “Time to Kill the Vibe” video and a ton of people looked at us and thought they knew us, especially at House of Vans. This time, we’re showing up and we have the name as well as the record. Just having that behind us is gonna be awesome.

Injury Reserve will perform at The Show at ScratcHouse Backyard on Friday, March 18, as well as several other unofficial shows.