Kansas native Stik Figa drops his second Mello Music Group release Central Standard Time, which is the quintessential solid rap album.
Across nine tracks, Stik Figa paints vivid pictures of struggles ranging from personal to political, assisted by other indie-rap staples like Elzhi and Homeboy Sandman. Stik is a titan with the pen and a natural on the mic. From the stripped back intro track, our attention is caught first by the reverberation as he approaches the mic and then held firmly in place as he spits a tight double-timed verse.
Throughout the project, Stik is riding the beats and bringing a succinct flow. On “Cold” he plays with the final syllables of the first verse, adding in a nice syncopation to each bar before taking us right to the downbeat cymbal of the hook. The precision of each bar, the way Stik lands and makes you bop your head, is only emphasized by some of the jazzy production on this project. “James Lemonade” features the romantic sway of a sax melody and boiling horn section. The track is overall representative of the air-tight nature of this album. Homeboy Sandman and Quelle Chris bring pristine verses and the chemistry between the three rappers makes the song an instant standout. There is no mistaking this album for anything other than good music.
The production on this project also hits the sweet spot of sentiment. Each track has a distinctive and evolved emotion. The warm crackling in the beginning of “Holding Back Tears” helps develop a complex sadness that is familiar to the ear, making it all the more emotionally exhausting. Other cuts like “Oldtown 96” bring a brighter element to the project: a homecoming sound emphasized by the strings in the back of the mix.
I got the chance to chat with Stik Figa about some of the finer details of Central Standard Time, so stop sleeping, throw on the album, and check out the interview with Stik Figa below.
How did you settle on the title Central Standard Time?
The title Central Standard Time became the title based on what I wanted to represent, just that I am an artist from this very specific part of the country, with a very specific story. Also, because it is one of the first records where I am not just working with one producer, and I am not co-headling so to speak. So it’s ‘my time’ in a way.
I am in love with the production on James Lemonade. What was your favorite beat on this project?
I love that beat too, Quelle is a genius, in my opinion, it was an honor to get both that beat and verse from him. One of my favorite tracks production wise on their is “The Heart Wants” produced by D/Will aka Conductor Williams. I really love how that one feels and swings.
The range of pain you cover is vast and your lyrics have such intricate details,was there any track or topic on this album that was difficult for you to write?
Um, none of my music is particularly hard to write honestly, mainly because the well of inspiration I use is either lived experience or something I have observed closely. Sometimes, it sucks to revisit certain emotions, but, the songs are mostly cathartic for me, it’s incredibly selfish, but sharing it with people helps me reconcile a lot of it because I am sure that I am not alone in these things.
“Bruce Wayne dark nights during car rides,
bumpy roads sharp rights on apartheid,
round the corner from poverty and hard times,
boys taking shots like paparazzi at bar fights.
Still black lives going for cheap,
tributes with lip service make it harder to sleep.”
These are really potent lyrics, but I want to really unpack that last line. Specifically, where are you seeing the most “lip service?”
Yea, when I say “lip service” that comes from the frustration of actually living in these communities, having grown up in these communities where the pain we experience is up close and personal, while many people do nothing about it write except blogs, opinion pieces, tweets and status. Hashtagging a victim of violence, instead of hitting the streets and making change happen. I recognize that all these things raise awareness, but, when your actual best friends and family who are serving long prison terms because of harsh sentencing, or are actually under the ground because poverty put many in the position where they felt crime was the best option. It never feels like enough.
Across the album I hear a lot of emotional exhaustion, is it difficult to get yourself into that drained state of mind while recording and once you’re out of the studio, do you snap back to whatever mood you were in earlier?
These times are very complex, I generally am anxious, and with access to 24/7 information I am only getting worse lol But, I am always trying to tap into a real feelings for myself, and I was emotionally exhausted writing a lot of this record. Particularly, ‘Holding Back Tears’ that is probably the most honest I have been on a song, and it was tough to find some good vibes after it, but again it was very cathartic.
What’s the next move for Stik Figa?
Next, we were gonna physical copies of this album out, both CD and vinyl for this who still collect such relics. And hopefully, some shows around the US.