Every rapper is a struggle rapper. The degree of adversity changes from one tax bracket to the next, but no contract comes with immunity. The pursuit of happiness lasts as long as you do. Stik Figa has been trying to tell you for years.
Central Standard Time, the Topeka, KS native’s second official Mello Music Group release, is a meditation on struggles new, old, and eternal. Stik Figa’s rhymes remain intricate yet accessible, the words interlocking to create fresh meanings. Every verse displays his hard-won honesty. Though the pains are personal, the moments are strikingly familiar. These are the songs you play when you’re tired of being told to turn up, when you avoid your bank statement like the plague, when you still can’t shake the first time someone called you “nigger,” when another relationship has wrecked your life.
With production from venerated heavyweights like Nottz, Exile, Black Milk, and Apollo Brown, there is never a stale loop or drum pattern. Beats crafted to fry subwoofers are offset by those warm and poignant. L’Orange produced lead single “Cold,” deftly straddles that divide. Over cavernous drums and a soul-stirring sample, Stik Figa indicts posturing trap rappers with searing wit.
When he’s not dismantling the unoriginal alone, Stik Figa enlists indie luminaries Elzhi, Homeboy Sandman, and Quelle Chris. And on album closer “The Git Down,” he macks alongside Bay Area legend Rappin' 4-Tay. With each feature, the results are even more arresting.
Ultimately, Central Standard Time is a reminder that sharing our burdens helps others do the same. It’s rap as therapy, the words written to move forward. Listen and do likewise. Struggle waits for no man.