Lyrique’s debut is a masterful mix of chill beats, sultry R&B, textured atmospherics and lyrical clarity.
I recently heard this story on the radio about an artist who, in trying to decide how to decorate his house for Halloween this year, settled on the numbers “2020” as oversized cutouts beside a smaller sign explaining that “it was the scariest thing I could think of.” The reaction his installation has provoked suggests that he’s not alone in that assessment. At the same time, his summation also shows how fear has motivated a flood of creativity this past year.
Calgary-based rapper-producer Edward Que — aka Lyrique — used his time in isolation earlier this year to channel a lifetime’s worth of fears and anxieties into his fully-realized and emotionally resounding debut full-length, P.I.M.P.(Poetry is My Pleasure). In a recent interview, Lyrique shared details of his early life growing up in Baguio, Philippines, where he and his family found themselves fluctuating between a life of poverty and plenty. He credits his mother for steering him towards music when she pushed him to join the church camp where he picked up skills as an instrumentalist. That early musical foundation lays the bedrock for P.I.M.P’s musicality and melody. His keen ear is evident right off the top with “Lights”, a deeply melodic number that spills into the musically dense and multilayered “Hunger”.
Like many Philipinos, Lyrique sought out opportunities to pursue his musical dreams in North America; he became a caregiver and emigrated to Canada where he continues to work days supporting adults living with disabilities. Also, like many who emigrate to Canada to work as caregivers, he experienced the hardships of temporary work, employee abuse and discrimination, and moving from city to city and couch to couch. Now settled in Calgary, Lyrique has planted roots in the city’s music scene and found fertile ground to make his dreams a reality.
In a little over two months, he managed to germinate the seeds of P.I.M.P.(Poetry is My Pleasure), the album’s title a reference to the release and self-discovery that came from writing its lyrics. As wild and wicked as Lyrique’s flow is (check out the sublime “Quarantine Flow” for a sample of how “switching up [his] flow so now [he] rhymes tight” has led to his breathless style) there is an undeniable sense that first and foremost, he is a storyteller deeply connected to his emotional truth. That connection comes across most clearly when he pivots to rap-singing, as on the luxurious “Live Well” or the stellar disco/funk/soul workout “Pimpin’ Wasn’t Easy”, but whether he’s grooving on and R&B vibe or diving headfirst into trap atmospherics and rap beats, Lyrique’s passion for his art always takes centre stage.
2020 has been chock-full of some scary shit, but the silver lining has been the resiliency of the human spirit and the tenacity of artists like Lyrique who’ve literally locked themselves down and focused their efforts on making something beautiful over these brutal months. P.I.M.P. (Poetry is My Pleasure) is a masterful mix of chill beats, sultry R&B, textured atmospherics and lyrical clarity. As satisfying and fulfilling as its creation must have been for Lyrique, the real pleasure of P.I.M.P. is all ours.