It’s been over a year since Injury Reserve‘s inimitable emcee Stepa J. Groggs shockingly passed away at the very young age of 32. It was a loss that shook the underground of hip-hop at large and, of course, Injury Reserve. It would have been understandable, given the loss, for them to have chosen to never make music again as Injury Reserve. But the (now) duo is choosing to remain relentless and as angular and out-of-left-field as ever with their art.
Today, Injury Reserve unveiled “Knees,” the first teaser from their forthcoming sophomore full-length titled By the Time I Get To Phoenix, a record started by Groggs before his untimely death, but finished by surviving members Ritchie With a T and Parker Corey. In a statement released by the duo on Twitter, fans should expect the same experimental weirdness and bombast we’re used to from Injury Reserve. ‘Knees,’ however, is a slightly different turn as it is spiritually subdued and deftly haunting. Aside from the parting sound and presence of Grogg’s voice, featured on the track’s third verse, “Knees” conveys a ghostly admission of futility in the chorus alone, “My knees hurtin’ when I grow,” Ritch swoons, “And that’s the tough pill to swallow, Because I’m not gettin’ taller.”
“Knees” is the most heavy-hearted we’ve heard Injury Reserve, and for an appropriate reason. Still, the outfit’s wonky sampling and playfully jagged alchemy of sound, though less hip-hop in spirit, have caught the attention of listeners once more in typical Injury Reserve fashion. And this will undoubtedly be the case when we get to experience By The Time I Get To Phoenix in full, come Sep. 15.
Check out the music video for “Knees” below and the tracklist for By the Time I Get To Phoenix beneath it.