Hip-hop today  is consumed by artists who lack individuality.  Not everyone, maybe, but a majority of hip-hop artists are living comfortably on the tails of other artists; looking at what led one to success and adopting those ideals as well.  Living in these times also means that creating a series of odd alter egos and facades, glorifying lifestyles that you may not know yourself–that’s what’s up.

With his latest installment, As Himself,  MC Stik Figa takes a line from a Robert Frost, however, and takes the road less traveled.  The project–produced solely by Kansas-bred producer Michael “Seven” Summers (Tech N9ne, Kendrick Lamar, Busta Rhymes)–will put listeners in mind of Figa’s debut From The Top.  Fans of that work will recognize Figa’s country drawl, uncanny humor and descriptive concepts; everything, in short, that makes the Topeka, Kansas MC who he is.

The production on the album works perfectly with the topics that Figa speaks on, as well as conveying its small town vibe (particular production highlights come include: “Absitively,” “Knowhatimsayin,” “Everyday,” and “Flaudgin’”).  On, “The Skinny,”  Figa lets listeners in on his early story of the awkward, nerd who got made fun of when he was younger. In “Class of 2000″ this awkwardness and hazing is brought to fruition -“Got good grades in school got told I wasn’t black/ matter of fact, that wasn’t enough / the girls never spoke because most wanted a thug.”

Figa addresses social issues with “Medicine,” which samples Aaron Neville’s “Hercules,” exploring relatable topics like the lack of compassion for others, the war on poverty, and why some turn to crime.  At the end of all verses, Figa drives the point home incorporating the same line at the end of each verse, “These are the conditions that are giving us the sickness, they try to diagnosis it but ain’t visited the clinic/ disease breathe but we ain’t ready to admit it/ and I ain’t met a physician that’s fixing the prescription.”

He also gets a little smooth when speaking to the ladies (or a particular lady) with “Susan B.”  “Syrupy and sweet like my verses on a beat / Having dreams about bubble baths and nursing shawty’s feet/ I do anything, anything, anything she say/ I can’t believe I’m right here looking in your face/ I just want to taste all your pleasure and your pain/ right now, I’m exploring every measure of her frame.”

With As Himself, Figa has managed to create a project that is the epitome of Kansas–or at least set the standard for what we should expect from the state.

-Erin Duncan

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