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Stik Figa and D/Will

Hello, Goodbye
(self-released)

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Hello, Goodbye, the new, freely distributed downloadable LP from D/Will and Stik Figa, is a gift wrapped in sophisticated lyrics and smartly crafted beats. Rapper Stik and producer D/Will hand out 12 tracks of Midwestern shout-outs, underground feist and existential torment. Residents of Topeka will appreciate the first half of the album, which features five tracks of Stik's riffs on the habits, culture and plight of his often-overlooked hometown. Others will savor the latter half of the album, which features soulful philosophizing on personal dramas. On "Seasons," over a plucking guitar and chiming bells, Stik invokes a clever weed analogy to explain his artistic aspiration: Raised in the armpit of country/It only made me hungry/Like rollin' up the kush/Then developin' the munchies. On "Happy," he teases other MCs: I sodomize the playlist/You try to find the rape kit. "Heart Brake" finds Stik struggling with thoughts of suicide. A frank discussion of Stik's spiritual troubles, this song marks a darker, more personal evolution from his previous work. Whatever the topic, though, Stik Figa's lyrical gifts shine, and D/Will's production carries Stik's weighty talent with aplomb. Like a combination of Andre 3000, Nas and the best talents in spoken word, Stik crafts verses that often begin with the everyday and arc to poignant abstractions. All in all, Hello, Goodbye isn't so much the rapper's best work as it is a necessary reminder that one of Kansas City's finest lyricists is still hustling. And head-nodding listeners can be glad that even in his darkest of hours, Stik is still holding onto the spirit of giving.

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