Story and photos by Will Geier.
What’s in a name? Sometimes a rap name can be nonsense—and that’s okay, Lil Pump, ‘Gucci Gang’ is still a pretty good song—but other times a rap name can actually be a true representation of what the artist is trying to reflect to their listeners. Calgarian up-and-coming rapper Lyrique, or Edward Que, is such an artist. His moniker not only reflects his family’s name and history, but also brings attention to Que’s main focus: his lyrics.
“I spend a lot of late nights writing my lyrics,” admits Que.
When writing, Que tries to remain true to himself and use his lyrics as a platform to express his feelings.
“Most of my songs’ energy comes from pain and past experiences,” explains Que. “It comes from human emotion, love, and pain.”
Que first came to Canada from the Philippines on a temporary foreign work program four years ago, and, unfortunately, he had to deal with racism and economic hardship.
“I grew up as a rich kid in the Philippines and I learned the hard lesson at the age of 13 that money can go away. Life turned around and I got into some bad shit. We [entered into] poverty. Having your lifestyle change in a week’s time is tough for a kid,” recalls Que. “I also had energy and motivation. I don’t want to be here; I want to be somewhere else and Canada opened up to me.”
Yet upon arriving in Canada, Que still had to overcome new hardships, sometimes even having to sleep in train stations. He used his pain and suffering as a creative and emotional outlet.
“I could share my pain through music and then, from something negative, it could be positive,” shares Que.
Everything paid off in the end. From his experiences, came the song ‘Escape’, which was later turned into a video by Raak Productions. ‘Escape’ then premiered at the Calgary hip-hop staple, 10 at 10.
“It gives me such an awesome feeling when I perform Escape live and the crowd sings it back to me,” smiles Que. “It made me cry on stage. This is what your sacrifices are for.”
Que is now in a better place and, when he’s not hitting stages around Calgary as Lyrique or in his band Plus, he works as a teacher for kids with disabilities and special needs.
Recently, Que dropped his second video, ‘Caught,’ next, he plans to perform before writing a full-length album next summer or early fall.
The Calgary hip-hop scene is growing and becoming more established—that was a welcome sign when Que first came to Calgary and started investigating the scene.
“Support here is more major. You’re a local act, but people treat you like you’re a headliner,” illuminates Que.
Que is gaining popularity, but be sure not to call his listeners fans.
“I hate the word fans. If you like my music you’re not a fan, we’re friends. I want to see friends all around the city.”
While Que does not believe that Calgary has found its own hip-hop sound yet, he has found that there is a lot to be learned from the community and other artists.
“The energy of my work ethic is very influenced by Calgary artists,” explains Que. “What can I do to be them? I take their energy and I support them, I give the energy back. My sound came [from me] but the energy is very derived from Calgary local acts.”
Que has an inspiring goal, which is one that can only help the scene thrive. If enough likeminded artists see that competition and support can go hand-in-hand, that will only elevate and progress the scene in Calgary.