The first year in the new decade was one that was tainted with a feeling of endless loss, and among the great Hip-Hop artists who passed away in 2020 was Injury Reserve's Stepa J. Groggs. Following his death last summer, the Hip-Hop group went on a year-long hiatus, and last month, Injury Reserve resurfaced to reveal that a new album would be on the way.
In a heartfelt statement, the group revealed the album is both dedicated to Stepa J. Groggs and titled after his desire to repurpose Isaac Haye’s By the Time I Get to Phoenix. Following the album's announcement, Injury Reserve released two experimental singles, "Knees" and "Superman That."
Roughly a month later, Injury Reserve's follow-up to its 2019 self-titled debut has been released, and although it has not yet been revealed whether or not this will be fans' last time hearing Stepa J. Groggs on wax, the 11-track effort is unarguably one of the most singular albums of the year. On By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Ritchie wit a T navigates the group's deep dive into a more distorted and industrial sound than they've ever attempted, but in contrast to the jarring soundscapes, the intimate and emotional themes throughout the record are absolutely beautiful.
For an uncomfortable, yet intriguing listening experience, check out Injury Reserve's By the Time I Get to Phoenix below. Rest in peace, Stepa J. Groggs.
2. Superman That
3. SS San Francisco (feat. Zelooperz)
4. Footwork in a Forest Fire
5. Ground Zero
6. Smoke Don't Clear
7. Top Picks for You
8. Wild Wild West
11. Bye Storm