Stepa J. Groggs of Injury Reserve is dead at 32.

The rapper’s bandmates shared the news on social media, tweeting “REST IN POWER Jordan Alexander Groggs a loving father, life partner and friend. (6/1/1988-6/29/2020).”

They also shared a link to a GoFundMe page for family support and services. 

Groggs is survived by Anna Ford, his life partner, and their four children, Joey, Jayden, Toph and Ari.

The GoFundMe page says, “Groggs’s heart has touched everyone he has came across. He will live on through his family, supporters, and the communities he was a part of.”

Among the fans whose hearts were touched by Groggs’ work with Injury Reserve was fellow Arizona rapper Raheem Jarbo, who performs as Mega Ran. 

“We as a hip hop community are a family,” Jarbo says.

“Particularly in a scene as overlooked as Arizona’s, we all view any successes as a monumental occasion for the entire scene. Conversely, a tragedy is viewed the same way. We have lost one of our own, far too soon. My thoughts and prayers go out to Injury Reserve’s fans, friends and all the families affected by this tragic loss.” 

Another member of the Valley hip-hop scene, Damien Tragedy James, called Injury Reserve an inspiration, saying they were “one of the many acts that showed me it was possible to go bigger than the scene would allow.”

Groggs’ passing touched all corners of the Phoenix music scene.

As local rockers Paper Foxes wrote on Facebook. “Injury Reserve will always be one of the most original and incredible acts out of AZ. This news is shocking and heartbreaking. Our love and support goes out to his friends and family. Jordan was such a cool down to earth and talented guy. This is crazy.”

How Injury Reserve broke out of the Phoenix scene

Formed in 2013, the trio first made a name for themselves with a self-released debut titled “Live From the Dentist Office.”

Released in 2015, the album was named in honor of the fact that the tracks had been recorded in an actual Valley dentist office when producer Parker Corey’s grandpa was done seeing patients.

As they were ramping up to that release, a Phoenix New Times story ran under the headline “Injury Reserve Calls Itself the ‘Only Good Rap Act in Arizona.'”

That was Jarbo’s introduction to the group.

As he recalls, “I heard about Injury Reserve the way a lot of the Phoenix rap scene did: through a controversial newspaper article that called them the best rap act in AZ. I hadn’t even heard a song, but after the article, every act in the city instantly put them on the radar and not for the best reason.”

Still, he kept an open mind.

“I did my research,” he says. “I turned on one video, then another, then another. I was hooked on their creativity and style. Particularly I was drawn to Groggs’ voice and clever delivery.”

Anthony Fantano — “the internet’s busiest music nerd,” as he’s been known to call himself — hyped their “Dentist Office” mixtape on the Needle Drop as “a really cool modern spin on an old classic” and “one of the most impressive hip-hop debuts I’ve heard.”

The initially Tempe-based trio – which also featured MC Ritchie With a T – delivered on that promise with an even better second album, “Floss,” before a move to California in early 2017.

MORE THINGS TO DO: For restaurant reviews, travel tips, concert picks and more, subscribe to Get 3 months for $3 during our Fourth of July sale.

As Corey explained the move to The Republic at the time, “We started to hit that ceiling in Phoenix where the people that we needed to be talking to, the people we needed to set up meetings with, the industry, it just was not in Phoenix. And we were starting to maneuver our way through that so we had to be here.”

They ended up landing a deal with Loma Vista Recordings, a label whose roster includes St. Vincent, Iggy Pop and Common, releasing a self-titled album in May of 2019. 

Jarbo says, “Over the last few years, I’ve been proud to watch IR grow into a national and even international act. I was playing a show in Skelmersdale, a tiny town in the U.K. in 2019, and when I told the promoter I was from Arizona, he went on about how cool Injury Reserve were.”

The Line of Best Fit had nothing but praise for that self-titled album, writing, “I can’t imagine there will be too many rap albums this year that better Injury Reserve’s debut. This is a band who can achieve the same volatility and straight-up ingenuity of BROCKHAMPTON, on less than a quarter of the manpower.”

Sputnikmusik also loved it, saying it was “as cohesive a hip-hop album as one can hope” and citing Groggs’ and Ritchie’s “growing scepticism with modern hip-hop culture, and a heightened awareness of its pretensions” as one of the reasons for that.

On “Three Man Weave,” the album’s final track, Groggs raps about his childhood dreams of playing hoops when he grew up, apologizing to his uncle for wasting his money on basketball camp. His story has a happy ending, though.

“Then I found somethin’ I was good at,” he raps. “Somethin’ that I believed in.”

Reach the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-4495. Follow him on Twitter @EdMasley.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to today.

Read or Share this story: