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“A lot of people just perceive pimping in regards to pimps and sex workers,” he says, in an interview from his Calgary home. “In urban-slang terms, it also means making something out of nothing. That was my whole story about me coming here to Canada: to make something out of nothing.”

Lyrique was born in the City of Baguio, the so-called “summer capital” of the Philippines, located in a mountainous area north of Manila. Initially, it was a privileged life. But by the time he turned 13, things drastically changed when his paternal grandmother had a devastating stroke. Due to the country’s less-than-stellar health care system, her needs drained both the family’s wealth and his father’s energy to run his once-lucrative business.

“I was able to experience poverty when I was 13,” says Lyrique, who will perform Friday, Oct. 9 at Cafe Koi. “It was a situation I didn’t understand. But looking back in hindsight, it was an eyeopener. I was really doing well in school in my younger years. Then when that situation came about, I was doing terrible in school. I was doing terrible socially.”

In 2014, Lyrique migrated to Canada in search of a better life. He was 22 and arrived as a temporary foreign worker under the live-in nanny program. It was not an easy time for him. Male live-in nannies were uncommon and therefore not exactly in demand. Within two weeks of arriving, his living arrangements with a relative came to an abrupt end.

“It was tough times, a lot of drama,” Lyrique says. “I lived in Fort McMurray for two or three months trying to look for an opportunity as a live-in nanny. But it was really hard because I was a guy. There were a lot of bad situations. I

The first time Denzel Valentine ever freestyled for anybody was in middle school.

He came home from class and sat with his older brother, Drew, who asked how his day went. The future Bulls shooting guard told his brother he had a few bars to get out.

Seconds later, he had a YouTube instrumental track pumping through their computer speakers and dropped a smooth flow for a kid in middle school.

“I was like OK, man,” Drew said. “I remember telling him he’s gotta put in the work if that was something he wanted to do on the side.”

Drew and Denzel grew up listening to Biggie, Tupac and Snoop Dogg and transitioned to Jay-Z, Nas and 50 Cent as they got older. Their dad, Carlton, had them listening to everything.

The second they jumped in his car, driving through Lansing, Michigan, the music was turned as loud as it could go. The only time it got lowered was when Carlton paused to ask them, “Do you know what that word means?”

Music was an outlet but also a tool, and Carlton never wasted a moment to inspire and educate his sons.

Those were bonding moments, but they were also moments that sparked a passion in Denzel beyond basketball.

“Music was a big part of our life growing up,” Denzel said. “In high school, we used to do beats and freestyle at the lunch table. Then in college, Eron Harris transferred in from West Virginia, and he was making music on his laptop. One day he said, ‘try it.’ ”

Valentine tried rapping on one of Harris’ beats and was hooked.

This summer, he has been in the gym and the studio. He doesn’t have a specific date in mind, but before the 2020-21 season, Valentine will drop his debut

The first time Denzel Valentine ever freestyled for anybody was in middle school.

He came home from class and sat with his older brother, Drew, who asked how his day went. The future Bulls shooting guard told his brother he had a few bars to get out.

Seconds later, he had a YouTube instrumental track pumping through their computer speakers and dropped a smooth flow for a kid in middle school.

“I was like OK, man,” Drew said. “I remember telling him he’s gotta put in the work if that was something he wanted to do on the side.”

Drew and Denzel grew up listening to Biggie, Tupac and Snoop Dogg and transitioned to Jay-Z, Nas and 50 Cent as they got older. Their dad, Carlton, had them listening to everything.

The second they jumped in his car, driving through Lansing, Michigan, the music was turned as loud as it could go. The only time it got lowered was when Carlton paused to ask them, “Do you know what that word means?”

Music was an outlet but also a tool, and Carlton never wasted a moment to inspire and educate his sons.

Those were bonding moments, but they were also moments that sparked a passion in Denzel beyond basketball.

“Music was a big part of our life growing up,” Denzel said. “In high school, we used to do beats and freestyle at the lunch table. Then in college, Eron Harris transferred in from West Virginia, and he was making music on his laptop. One day he said, ‘try it.’ ”

Valentine tried rapping on one of Harris’ beats and was hooked.

This summer, he has been in the gym and the studio. He doesn’t have a specific date in mind, but before the 2020-21 season, Valentine will drop his debut