Pleasure Principle: Calgary rapper Lyrique brings poetry in motion with debut album

“In adversity, there’s always an opportunity.” 

Words coming from his own walk of life, Lyrique, also known as Edward Que, has experienced his own trials; however, has found his voice through those hardships. 

Growing up in Baguio, Philippines — a city north of Manila, Lyrique was blessed with a fairly fortunate upbringing, until life took a turn for him and his family. 

“I’m lucky to say that I’ve experienced a life of lavish and of poverty, I could appreciate both,” he says. “I can appreciate the blessings and the times when I don’t have anything. I remember when I’d hear my mom crying because she’d be worried about what we were going to have for dinner the next day.” 

One summer, Lyrique’s Mom insisted that he joined a church camp. Initially Lyrique felt reluctant to attend; however, that’s where he discovered his love for music. 

“From then on, I picked up a guitar, the bass, and the piano. This was before I was Lyrique, I was an instrumentalist in a band. I’ve always wanted to be a rapper, but I was more of a bedroom, shower or car rapper.” 

Having bigger dreams, Lyrique pursued a life in Canada through attending a caregiver course, which he is still currently involved in, working with people who have special needs. 

However, life in Canada wasn’t necessarily the promise land of dreams, where Lyrique would become immune to hardships — adversity continued to follow him. 

“I was having problems at the house I was staying at, so I moved from house to house. I was moving all over Canada from Fort McMurray, to Vancouver and back to Calgary. There was a time when I was couch surfing every other week. There were even times when I slept at Southland (CTrain) station.” 

After six years of living in Canada, Lyrique triumphed over those hardships and used them as an opportunity to turn those difficult circumstances into music. Which has taken him further than he’d ever imagined. 

“My music was featured in Complex Magazine, written by Josephine Cruz, that was huge for me,” he says. “And last summer I was performing at this music festival in Edmonton called ‘K-Days Music Festival’ where there was just about 7,000 people. It was such a good experience.” 

But when COVID-19 took a toll on the entire world, Lyrique shares that he used lock down as a time to unplug from social media and all the toxicity that it can possess, while taking the space for self-reflection. This crisis that Lyrique experienced with the world was another opportunity for him to hustle hard and make some music inspired out of his state of introspection — and creating his debut album called P.I.M.P.

“ ‘Poetry Is My Pleasure,’ ” he clarifies about the acronym. “Because writing became my pleasure and it was a form of release.  Poetry doesn’t necessarily have to make sense. It’s just letting it out.”

Calgary rapper Lyrique

In the span of two months, throughout quarantine, Lyrique was inspired by music, journaling about the albums he was consuming — Stankonia by OutKast, Dr. Dre’s The Chronic and the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill — and listing his favourite to least favourite tracks. He started reading lots, and watching movies, He read Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, which also plays a role in the birth of P.I.M.P. 

When quarantine started dying down, he reached out to DJ Rocks and they started composing and recording every week. 

“In Doctor Sleep, these kids were getting kidnapped and the light they possessed was getting sucked out of them, I realized that’s kind of like social media, it can really suck the life, inspiration and energy out of you.” 

Unplugging from social media revealed to Lyrique the toxic and negative effects that social media played on his life and mentality. Now he feels passionate about conveying this message through this album. Without the influence of social media on his life, Lyrique felt more connected with himself; therefore, producing an album that was emanating his authentic self. 

“This album sounds more like me, because I’m not trying to be someone that I’m not. And I think a part of that is because we were forced to reflect on ourselves during quarantine.” 

Moving forward, Lyrique wants to avoid focusing on the status and numbers that his album makes. To him, that doesn’t define success — what defines success is people’s response and how his music has impacted their lives. 

“When they listen to my music, I hope they feel that they’re not alone, someone’s already experienced what they’re going through. And something beautiful will always come out of that struggle.”

(Photos Zoltan Varadi.)

Lyrique’s album P.I.M.P. (Poetry Is My Pleasure) is released Oct. 14 on all streaming platforms.

Cyana is a mother to a little boy, she’s taking journalism, loves music and grew up around hip-hop. She wants to write more stories on different cultures around the globe and she works at Shiki Menya.