Tearing Up the Runway: Injury Reserve’s “Jawbreaker”

Will Schube evaluates the new video from the L.A. (by way of Phoenix) group, fresh off the heels of Men's Fashion Week.
By    January 29, 2019

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Will Schube bought a dope vintage Iceberg sweater the other day. He refuses to divulge how much he paid for it.

Incisive political raps are rarely funny. Seriousness of purpose comes first, and any comedic analysis gets lobotomized. We can call it the J. Cole effect. But Arizona-to-LA trio Injury Reserve, have managed to take a deeply serious topic (fashion’s blind eye to sexual abuse when it’s performed by successful, “innovative” designers) and give it sneering, sarcastic edges.

“Jawbreaker” takes place on a runway in which models are showcasing kicks like the Rape 3000s, only $450 deadstock. Ritchie With a T’s voice is deadpan but not dead before busting out an unrelenting flow that abandons the silliness of his intro in favor of daggers and heaters aimed at the demigods of men’s fashion. It’s an exciting turn for Injury Reserve, mostly because it proves they’re more than good — they’re fearless. 

Signed to Loma Vista, “Jawbreaker” is a hopeful indication that the group isn’t giving into any heat-seeking gimmicks. Parker Corey’s beat is barely there, all handclaps and wind-up toys, but it proves that minimalism doesn’t beget laziness. The production gives the emcees (including Rico Nasty with another pitch-perfect verse) room to swim above its percussive, unassuming rhythm.

“We all know someone who blew they whole rent on some Off-white,” raps Stepa J. Groggs. It’s funny but also a little sad and that’s what makes “Jawbreaker” believable and exciting. It’s empathetic to those chasing a look but refuses to lay off the men most deserving of our wrath. It’s equal parts indictment and song, but moralizing isn’t their game. They’re calling out the worst of the worst who have the biggest spotlights that for some reason have yet to be dimmed. Ian Connor’s response to the track was predictably atrocious. It’s just a song, but “Jawbreaker” confirms that Injury Reserve are here to break bones. Let’s hope the fashion world is getting busy designing some gold-encrusted casts.

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