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"From a small Kansas town in the county of Shawnee……" – Stik Figa

The Midwest landlocked state of Kansas brings a few images to mind: yellow brick roads, tornadoes, cornfields and a dog named Toto. But rapper Stik Figa hopes to change the perception of the plain state with good, honest hip-hop music.

Born in Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, John Westbrook, Jr. grew up in Topeka, the capital city of Kansas. While he lived in Topeka's central neighborhood of Elmhurst friend Tiwanne gave him a copy of GZA's Liquid Swords, Stik found the record abrasive, dangerous, introspective and smart. The experience changed how he viewed hip-hop and made him want to contribute.

And contribute he has. Independent heavyweights El da Sensei, Blackalicious, Murs, and Phat Kat have all chosen Stik to open shows with his energetic flow. He's a member of many respected crews such as Fyte Club (Memphis) InnateSounds (Kansas City) The O's (Topeka) and Fly Boy Club (Wichita).

Stik draws on a southern style mixed with a Midwest flavor. His first southern influence came from his parents who are from Arkansas and Tennessee. His mom even contributed to his moniker after she commented on his thin frame. She told him he looked like a stick figure.

His other southern roots come from experience. Stik has performed in Virginia Beach, Va., and Tampa, Fla., where he won talent shows and battles. His southern stint honed his craft on the stage and molded him into what he is today. Stik claims Memphis, Tenn., as his second home. He says places in the south like Memphis helped to develop his style as likeable, down-to-earth and honest.

"My music is meat and potatoes with a focus on skills and honesty, something sorely missing from today's current market," Stik says.

He says he raps about what he knows, from humorous tales of a Topeka night club ("Lookin Good") to issues on identity and interracial relationships ("Let It Be"). He says he shies away from what a lot of people think rap is all about.

"I'm no gangster. I never shot nobody. I never sold no dope. I can't rap about that," he says.

Stik recently released his first Mello Music Group release titled As Himself, on April 10, 2012.

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