Stik Figa, “Front Porch”

Blake Gillespie

Five years ago the Midwest rapper Stik Figa released a record as himself, the most logical plan of action for a guy from Topeka looking to be heard beyond his neighborhood. As Himself was produced by Leonard Dstroy, another nearby native, and subverted the bravado of mainstream rap for an everyman’s message that continues to be co-opted in varying degrees by mainstream artists. It’s this co-opting mixed with the wisdom of five years that has Stik Figa feeling not quite himself on this year’s follow-up with Leonard Dstroy.

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But we’ll get to Stik’s growth in the interview below. The video for “Front Porch” is the narrative we’ve come to expect from him. Regular guy, who like most of us, is up at his own leisure and enjoys his cereal sugary. “Front Porch” is the third video released for Not Quite Himself directed by Barrel Maker. With more to come, the first question in our interview had to satisfy a hunch:

In working with Barrel Maker, you’ve created a thematic look to the album. How have these videos worked to convey the concept to Stik Figa Is Not Quite Himself?

That is a great question. And yes, I would agree that they do, it is coming full circle with the story that I have been telling on my records for the past five years or so. Also, it has been about five years since I have gotten a chance to work with Leonard Dstroy again, so yes, I would definitely agree that the visuals are giving that raw, back to basics vibe I am looking for while promoting this record.

In particular, “Front Porch” feels like a visual extension of “Gray Chevette”, would you say there is a narrative to be found within the album?

Glad you caught that! Yes, this record definitely has a story to tell. Without giving away too much, I would say it is a coming of age tale of a young black kid from the Midwest, and ends with a few grown man lessons. And a lot of really dope rapping, more importantly.

You had Stik Figa as Himself in 2012 and this latest record is a variation on that title. What was the inspiration for this self-referential title?

I wanted to use that title because so much has changed since then, but, things tend to stay the same, as the idiom goes. And that is something that just made sense to me to revisit that record, and let listeners hear how I am seeing things through this new lens of age and experience. I am still the same guy you have come to know and love for the most part, just with a few more years on me and some new life experience to share.

For a track like “Gray Chevette”, when did that song come to you? It’s also not often that we’re able to understand our parents and the effects they had on us at a young age are rarely rationalized later in life. How did you come to the understanding presented in that song?

Yea, “Gray Chevette” came to me as a concept when I had my son, back in 2007, but I hadn’t really known it yet. It wasn’t until my son started asking me questions like the ones like the ones I would ask my dad, like “What were you and mom arguing about?” “Why can’t I have this toy?” “What was it like for you growing up?” Then it kind of hit me like, man, you’re really under the gun here, when it comes to your child. This is the most important job you will ever have, and guess what, you don’t have all the answers. And it just made me very reflective, and in order to get it all out I had to write it down. Because fatherhood is something that never really gets mentioned in the rap psyche like that. And I am fortunate to say I had my father in my life. Was he perfect, no, but, neither am I, and it’s hard work, realizing the influence you have on your child’s life. So I said, this is definitely something worthy of being a song, so when Lenny D gave it too me, it was too perfect, it conveyed any emotion I may have missed in the lyrics.

On “Front Porch”, is this an average morning or there still an element to the song and video in which Stik Figa is not quite himself that we should look for?

Yea, that is a pretty average morning for me. Me passed out on the couch, awoken to some sort of chatter, or my son or daughter crawling on me is usually the scenario. But yea, I wanted this record to feel like the everyman’s theme music. One of my, if not biggest influences is Devin the Dude. I kinda went into it with that idea, of the life of the average neighborhood dude, there are so many personas out there that I could never fit into, so, I figured man, I will just be myself. I may not be special, but I am a individual, and my individuality is what I hope people get from this album.

Stik Figa is Not Quite Himself is out March 31.

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