On latest album, Ritual, Topeka, Kansas emcee Stik Figa teams up with Irish producer The Expert to deliver a thought-provoking and soul-stirring collection of golden-age rap. Released on June 16th under Rucksack Records, this new record showcases Stik Figa’s lyrical prowess and The Expert’s eclectic production style. With a lineup of talented guest features including Blu, Defcee, Sleep Sinatra, and Tanya Morgan, Ritual is equal parts soulful and profound. Clearly and powerfully addressing societal issues with true artists.
From the opening track, BlacAmerica to the closing notes of The Forgotten, Ritual delves into complex themes of Black American oppression and the challenges faced by marginalized communities. Moreover, Stik Figa’s honest and personal approach shines through, delivering profound and introspective lyrics that resonate deeply. The production by The Expert uplifts these messages, blending elements of classic jazz samples and nostalgic feeling soul to create a feel that truly allows Stik’s lyricism to shine.
Ritual is truly a cover-to-cover type listen. Not only lyrically, but sonically as well. Even filler tracks like Rob Peter, Pay Pallbearer are gorgeously crafted and serve a purpose. Pay Pallbearer, for example, sees Dublin pianist Daniel Luke deliver a delicious piano composition. A much-needed reprieve from dense, powerful lyricism.
But it’s standout tracks like Uknowhut? where Stik’s genius really thrives. It’s so dope to see him collaborating with an artist like Blu. And the two lyricists trade effervescent verses over dope soul chops. Stik Figa’s verses are pure soulfood, and he delivers gems like, “Closed mouths don’t get fed, open your mind/constant is the only change, can’t be frozen in time.” It’s a song that’s equal parts hopeful and uplifting. An affirmation for us to all strive to be the best versions of ourselves. After a seamless beat switch, Blu’s talents are presented, and his verse is no less palpable and optimistic.
Another standout cut is The Green Monster featuring Solemn Brigham, a song that exudes real bounce and edge. This track is insane from a production standpoint. Feels like the perfect blend of boom bap with some elements of where we’d like to see hip-hop go next. Experimental in all the best ways. Both emcees deliver potent verses that discuss greed and envy, proverbial “Green Monsters”.
On the second half of the album, Stik Figa finds his voice on topics about his faith, mortality, and flaws. From Yah’s Shorthand to President Streets, Lonely Planet to The All, each track comes from a place of true lyrical precision. From a place that feels like an internal quest for knowledge and growth. With dope assists from artists like Defcee, Sleep Sinatra and of course, The Expert himself.
Ritual is an album that doesn’t wait for attention: it demands it. With each track, Stik Figa transports listeners to a space where genre boundaries blur. And where Stik Figa and The Expert flawlessly present thought-provoking emotions meant to inspire change.