theinjuredparty has a vision, and a confidence in their abilities to pull it off without hesitation. Featuring the unique talents of rapper Musa Reems and singer Amare Symoné, their debut EP establishes the duo’s sound as effortless and subversive to expectations. To top it off, they've got a mini-documentary as an introduction to the group as well, which you can see to the right. The project is self-titled as theinjuredparty. EP, a cruise through the minds of these two artists over four introspective tracks that acquaint us with their personalities, philosophies and lives.
Their name references an underdog spirit that permeates the whole project - they know theinjuredparty. EP is fantastic, just waiting for the world to catch up. What stands out is how cohesive and full of life the EP feels. Amare Symoné’s vocals are the first thing you hear when you start listening, and set a strong first impression with their track “So I Know It’s Real”. Counter-balancing her powerful voice is the high flying lyricism and flow of Musa Reems, whose raps are undeniable every time. It's the dynamic between these two voices that elevate the project, chemistry making the sum greater than its parts. Part of this is their different approach to the usual singer / rapper combos. Rather than choosing one artist for the chorus and one for the verse, they switch off, or do both and sing simultaneously. The vocals then come together on two different planes for a sound that is constantly engaging.
Production from JXHNSCXTT (who claims 3 / 4 songs here) and Curbside Jones are also integral to making the project special. These two producers create backing tracks that perfectly complement the vibes of theinjuredparty, warm and hypnotic and lively. All these factors together make for a project that stands out as a top of the line meeting of the minds. We had a chance to talk more with theinjuredparty, which you can read below.
For the uninitiated, can you introduce and describe theinjuredparty for any new listeners out there? And how did you two, Amare Symone and Musa Reems, link up?
We are a Neo-Soul/Hip-Hop duo from Brooklyn and Chicago. We have been making music together for about a year now, and we realized that our type of musical chemistry is rare. We met in Wicker Park at Dimo’s in the summer of 2015. A mutual friend and collaborator by the name of Space Snow, who is no longer here with us (Rest In Power, Space), recommended that we link up and make a song together. Ironically, we were both enrolled as incoming freshmen at Columbia College Chicago at the time. We ended up just hanging out rather than making music that day, but we have been best friends ever since. Both of us were present in the making of our individual projects, GlassWindows EP and Another Dos(e). We also helped each other a lot throughout the recording process. After completing our solo EPs we knew that we wanted to come together as a tag team. We quickly began to select beats for theinjuredparty. EP in the spring of 2016. That summer we started writing to a couple of JXHNSCXTT beats and our homie, Curbside Jones, sent a joint over too. We wrote to these instrumentals in a lot of different places. The writing process took a couple of months. We penned the project in Las Vegas, Atlanta, Chicago, and Brooklyn. Travelling helped a lot with our lyricism. After recording some of the project, we were on the same line – up for multiple shows. We tested some of the songs out at the “Chicago Next” Series at the Soho House Chicago and at a few Sofar Sounds Chicago Shows. We put the finishing touches on theinjuredparty. EP after that and now we’re here today!
How did your two respective hometowns, Chicago (Austin) and Brooklyn, NY, influence this EP? Is there anything you learned from working closely with an artist not from your area?
Amare: Our hometowns influenced this EP in its sound, language, memories/storytelling, and lyrics. For example, there is New York flair that will engulf our listeners particularly on the “NeighborhoodKnowNames” track. Also, the dialect of Ebonics, and our hometown slang is incorporated throughout our individual writing. It is very different to work with someone who isn’t from the same place you are from because there are various elements that influence memories, cultures, traditions, and ways of life where you are from and your development as a kid. Simple things like Chicagoans calling hot cheetos, “flamin’ hots” or that they use “bussin’” instead of “litt”. It has also led to a growth of confidence and content to be proud of where I am from, and the woman it has led me to become. It has shown me that my walk, talk, style, and stance is unique because of Brooklyn, and that without Brooklyn, I would not be Amare. I grew up on Hip-Hop, my dad would DJ, and my mom hosted battle raps back in the day, and that has become evident in the way they have performed, which later influenced how I have performed as well, despite being a Neo-Soul singer. Collaborating with another gritty city kid is fun, and inspirational. Chicago is beautiful, and has so much history just like my city yet is different enough to make me want to fight for it to call my home.
Musa: I was born and raised in Chicago, so when I visited New York a couple of times it made me realize things about my hometown that I never paid attention to before. While growing up here I listened to a lot of soul, blues, house, stepping, footworking, and rap music. My pops was in the Nation of Islam in the 90’s, so I’ve seen hella pictures of him with dope artists like Digable Planets and Foxy Brown. My family is huge on soul music too. I grew up on the west side of Chicago and Woodside. I feel like those particular parts of the city are really slept on. There have been so many greats that have come from there. I used to listen to Do or Die and Crucial Conflict a lot in high school. It was cool to see rising acts come out of the west side and Woodside. Some guys that are a little older than me that I saw make moves and represent the same parts of the city that I grew up in area: Saba, Joey Purp, and Jayaire Woods. It’s cool to see someone who looks like you and that is in the same environment as you succeed. I’m working on doing that for myself and the kids coming up just like I did. I was a kid growing up in a cultural epicenter. I thought that Chicago was the only place in the world. I knew nothing else outside of it. When I was growing up, I had the chance to see a lot of big things happen in this city musically. It inspired me and made me study art / business intensely. Also, due to the fast – paced environment of Chicago, I had to grow up really fast. I approach my rhymes the same way I approach my mindset while growing up in the Windy City: quick paced, deep thinking, and precise. When I went to New York, it showed me a world similar to my own, but with a twist. The cultures within Brooklyn were different from Austin. However, I often find myself in Brooklyn and it looks / feels eerily similar to “home”. I like it out there a lot. Walking around K-Town on the west side is the same as walking down Fulton in BK. With that being said, it was fairly easy working with Amare, even though she wasn’t from here. I learned hella about Brooklyn in terms of lingo, lifestyle, and musical preference while working Amare. Often we teach other lingo from our hometowns so, we don’t get lost in a conversation. It’s a lot of fun and it helped build a lot of themes for this project. I learned that if you trust a person and their vision, then the music can take any form it grows in to. A lot of the songs on the record came really natural because we were open – minded and willing to try new things while recording.
As the first theinjuredparty release, what statement did you want to make with theinjuredparty. EP?
For the EP, we wanted to show how unique, and eclectic we were, and how intricate our writing about various topics were. Also, we wanted to step out of the boxes that we felt the world, and art/music communities were trying to push us into. We think that it is easy to become monotonous when constructing concepts and we don’t like being repetitive. Our personalities are very similar to that idea also. We like changing things up a bit and maintaining balance. Another thing we wanted to show with this EP is that theinjuredparty. sound is completely different from our solo records. When we selected the beats on the project, we gravitated to certain instrumentals off – bat. We knew we wanted to get lit on some songs and talk about serious topics on others. Also, we wanted to do something different in terms of the dynamic of the duo. We know a lot of groups are predominately male. We didn’t see a lot of female singer / songwriters paired with a male emcee. We thought it would be different to go in this direction. We gathered a lot of influence from Digable Planets, The Fugees, The Soulquarians, Sa – Ra Creative Partners, and OutKast while creating our first solo effort. Developing our sonic landscape into a modern sound was very important to us. We were influenced by all of these people, but we made this EP in our own way. Even the artwork is something that we put focus on to make a statement. The television screen on the artwork has a colored screen and the title, theinjuredparty. EP, is going across it. This symbolizes that we’re interrupting and taking over what people are watching. We felt that the music cannot be overlooked.
For Amare, how has your move from Brooklyn to Chicago been?
It has been smooth and I learn more about myself in the city each and every day. Chicago is special to me because it is where I have formed into my own as an adult, and it feels like my other home. Even though at times I feel like I still have to prove myself throughout the Chicago arts community, there is something familiar that makes me fall in love with it over and over again. I look up to Eryn Allen Kane. She’s an amazing artist and performer. She’s also not from Chicago, so she’s easier to relate to. Chicago is a big city just like New York, so it was easy to transition in that way also. The Black culture, food, sense of community is very different also. I grew up listening to Hip-Hop, Dancehall, soca, calypso, RnB, being that my mom is African American, and my dad is Carribbean-American. I miss reggae being blasted on a speaker and waking up to find it in hallways of my home. I miss Ali’s Roti shop, and having oxtail with rice and pea for dinner. I miss coppin’ a bacon, egg, and cheese with a dollar hot chocolate on my way to class. Even with Chicago feeling like home, I am madd homesick for my love: New York.
The chemistry between you on theinjuredparty. EP stands out, what is it about your two sounds and styles that you think makes the project work so well?
Thank you! We think that our styles mesh together so well because we aren’t afraid to take risks and incorporate each other’s interests into our own music. We wanted to challenge each other to do different things. That is essential to collaborating in our opinion. We thought that we should be inspiring each other to do different things. Sometimes we try to change the roles of who is singing and who is rapping. It makes us step outside of our comfort zone. We don’t just talk about music during conversation also. Subjects can range from spirituality, politics, education, and social issues that we observe in the world on a daily basis. We let each other make mistakes and allow ourselves to be as comfortable as possible. This allows the creative juices to flow when we’re working on art. We’re not scared of opinions. We’re not scared to ask for help. We’re not scared to go out on a limb. Sometimes we’ll talk about music all day and just digest it. Amare is heavily inspired by Beyoncé and Alicia Keys. Musa is a MF DOOM and Big L stan. Those are 4 different musicians and we find ways to intertwine them. We’re very loose in the studio and we like to crack jokes. It’s hardly ever a dull moment. However, we don’t like a lot of people in the studio with us. We get straight to business. We also have to give thanks to the big bro, Jabari Rayford. We both record at Soundscape Studios and have been there for a really long time. Jabari has been mixing sessions for Musa since he was 15 and has mixed for Amare since she made the move to Chicago. Jabari will give certain ideas in terms of mixing and it’ll transform the entirety of a song. It’s beyond helpful and we trust his direction. We also master our music at The Boiler Room on the west side. Collin Jordan is a tremendous, professional individual and always leaves us satisfied with our product. We knew we wanted to combine our sounds to make this new thing that neither one of us have ever done before.
Now you've just released this impressive debut project for theinjuredparty, what are your plans from here?
We appreciate you for viewing our project as impressive. We have our first show on May 12th, 2017 at Columbia College Chicago on the 623 Stage (623 S. Wabash Ave), so come out and see our first full performance! We’ll be doing more shows across the city as theinjuredparty. all summer and we will also have some solo shows. Musa is also getting set to release his first full – length solo effort, Where The Sun Never Rises. We’re having a lot of fun and basking in the moment. Also don’t forget to like us on Facebook (The Injured Party) and follow us on Soundcloud, Instagram, and Twitter: soundcloud.com/theinjuredparty / @theinjuredparty / @theinjuredparty_ . Thank you for your time and shout out to the These Days Team for supporting us this whole year. It means a lot!