We've previously discussed the exploitative nature of streetwear culture on this website. Basically, it's centered around paying a ridiculous amount of money to wear clothes from a select few brands that are deemed "hot." You got your Supreme, your Gucci, your Off-White and Yeezy, and so on. These are the brands the Your Favorite Rapper wears.
Everyone knows these labels are wildly expensive and difficult to procure, and yet Your Favorite Rapper can either afford to pay the high price of fashion, or stands to benefit from it, so criticism of the culture has been nonexistent. Until now.
Yes, it's fallen to Phoenix's own Injury Reserve to take the hypebeast-industrial complex to task, which they've done nicely in their new video, "Jawbreaker." It's set in a fashion show — and what do you know, we just so happen to be right in the middle of Fashion Month for the autumn-winter 2019-20 season! — and on view are the most boring, paint-by-numbers fits imaginable. A Gucci T-shirt. A Supreme cross-body bag. A Calvin Klein bra worn as a top.
From here, Ritchie With a T, Stepa J. Groggs, and guest performer Rico Nasty surgically eviscerate every one of these unoriginal, bogus, and costly outfits.
Ritchie, wearing a very nice military-green Helmut Lang jacket, directs our attention to a model. "So today, Ian Connor doesn’t happen to have anything on top of his head," he begins, referring to the A$AP Mob-affiliated designer accused of sexual misconduct, "But he does happen to have the Supreme Playboy collab jacket on. Then we're just gonna go ahead and skip to the bottom, 'cause can you guys notice that he does have the Rape 3000's on, and those are gonna cost you 'bout $450 deadstock."
"We all know someone who blown their whole rent on some Off-Whites," Stepa continues.
Maybe it's the fact that they come from a city that doesn't really care much about fashion, but these guys are onto something. Why do so many people pay so much for clothing that doesn't really set them apart? Why are they sacrificing so much to look the same, to conform rather than express themselves? And why are they lining the pockets of, in some cases, the monstrous people that make these shitty clothes? "I do what I want not whatever gets the likes up," Rico Nasty says. "They don't like my outfit but they like the outcome."
Anyone who studies fashion knows that it is cyclical and reactionary, and "Jawbreaker," with its harsh, out-for-blood criticisms and simple-yet-effective production (is that a gamelan I hear?) seems to be the first serious blow struck against streetwear and the people that make it within the realm of hip-hop. Credit where it's due: Injury Reserve, like many hyped rap entities, could've given into the system. Instead, they're choosing to take it down a notch, and that's worth much more respect than a pair of classic red Jordans will ever be.
Injury Reserve will release their next album, a self-titled project, on Loma Vista Recordings. It's expected to arrive sometime this year. Their last record was 2017's Drive It Like You Stole It. They'll also perform at Sun Devil Stadium next month.
Injury Reserve. Opening for Vic Mensa. 8 p.m. Friday, February 22, at Sun Devil Stadium, 500 East Veterans Way, Tempe; asu365communityunion.com. Tickets are $17 to $24 via Ticketmaster.