Updated: May 8, 2021
Dr. Peter Plourde, also known as Professor Lyrical or Pro Lyrical, is not only a Hip Hop artist, creator and lifelong academic — he’s a real Doctor, and a real Professor. Well known in the Hip Hop Underground as a gifted lyricist and M.C., song-writer, and highly vocal advocate for social change — Pro Lyrical’s rap skills were always considered ahead of his time.
With a giant catalog spanning over a decade and having paid dues in Rap Battle arenas, as well as spending a significant number of years recording as part of former rap groups, Invasion and X-Caliber, Pro Lyrical has left an unquestionable mark in Hip Hop, especially in his home region of New England.
Leveraging his upbringing in Hip Hop culture, Pro Lyrical has lent his experiences as a rapper to a number of his college lessons as a Professor, as well as to numerous Ted Talks and a myriad of conferences and seminars he heavily wields beneath his belt.
Sometimes I can’t figure out if Pro Lyrical is a rapping Professor first, but he’s surely a professional rapper regardless. His 2016 dissertation entitled “Increasing STEM degree attainment for underrepresented populations” spoke to how Hip Hop could be used to boost student participation across a variety of academic disciplines. His accolades as a scholar can only be matched by his accomplishments as an Independent Underground Hip Hop veteran.
Yet, it was a shock when his most recent creative effort, a music single entitled “House of Lies” popped up on my Spotify Release Radar. It wasn’t a throw that Pro Lyrical would release a new song, because he has almost 100 tracks in his impressive discography. This, however, was a different kind of song — it was about a relationship (gone bitter.)
Really? Oh, do tell Dr. Plourde!
Producer, The Legion, holds no punches on this soulful bluesy hip-hop score — something a bit different than Pro Lyrical’s usual drum heavy traditional boom-bap sound. The beat for House of Lies begins with a cascade of smooth melodic guitar, fingering over subtle near-ambient strums, while Pro Lyrical hurriedly prefaces the song with frustratingly toned bars intensifying the song’s introduction. Low end guitar plucks simulate heart-mourning bass licks deep in the composition, while quiet distant snaps set the groove.
Clearly, Pro Lyrical, is pissed. But the mood of the music is somber. Still, it was anything but subtle… I had to sit down.
No sooner than the rhythm settled in, tensions decompress as singer-performer, Jamillions, enters the scene with the smooth R&B vocals we all know and love him for. He summarizes our initial suspicions. “You keep on telling me lies…” Jamillion sings, warm and vulnerable. It’s now a vibe. And one can’t help but find themselves mildly triggered by the memorable words of the instantly addictive chorus and hook. Because, afterall, we’ve all been there. Right?
And so the first verse begins, and impressive word play and lyrical acrobatics I’ve come to expect are obviously given. What grabbed a hold of me though is the interesting way Pro Lyrical gives so much to this narrative, in plain speak, yet leaves it all just vague enough to keep me wondering — and listening.
“Now, I understand that you need attention too. But what I question is your intentions and spin on the truth. All your claims that I’m hearing you make. Then you turn around and lie to my face.”
Pro Lyrical doesn’t attempt anything new with his flow in House of Lies — and he doesn’t need to. His classic cadence and signature style is remarkably reminiscent of Reasonable Doubt era Jay Z meets Common ‘The Lights’ with phrase bending tactics and a multiple syllable rhythmic bounce that reminds one verbally of a big band snare drummer boy’s marching anthem — and it’s to no loss of context or meaning.
His songs always have substance and are always delivered with squeamish levels of perfection — no doubt even the emotional nuances and intriguing space between breaths here are completely intentional. This is what Pro Lyrical is known for, and he does not disappoint. Core fans like myself that admire his lyrical perfectionism and carefully crafted enunciation need only hear a few lines before recognizing the pen at hand.
Yet, compelled, I can’t help but be drawn deeper into the lyrics with empathy and understanding as the song unfolds with intriguing drama as if one were hearing the visually detailed script from a reality T.V. show — you know, the part when the nice guy is DONE done with that total b*tch.
But this solid rap ballad creates as many questions as it gives answers. Pro Lyrical continues, “Talking about you want my commitment? Just because it’s been a few years-plus, now I need to make a decision?” The longer I listen to the song, the more curious it becomes. Who is he speaking about?
The plot of this break up letter suddenly twists unexpectedly as Pro Lyrical drops more clues to this mysterious story that has become a conundrum to say the least.
If you follow artists online, you’re prone to be up in their business. How then does this all connect? I didn’t see anything scandalous on his Instagram page.
As I mentioned, Pro-Lyrical is known for his conscious lyricism. So, naturally, at first I found myself analyzing the song before I even got to enjoy it. But the more I listened, the more I desired to go sleuthing online for the catalyst of this Worldstar worthy vent. Ungratified, I waited, (not so) patiently — listening further.
And then in the final words of the last verse, literally, the revelation of this carefully crafted multi-layered performance comes to complete satisfaction. I should have known. I smirk. Sitting back, I chuckled a simple, “Ha” and sent Pro Lyrical a text message. “Genius.” And while I really want to spoil the ending for everyone, I just can’t.
The video for House of Lies premiered on Youtube just days after the song was released and was the brainchild of Pro Lyrical and directed by Josiah Mendoza, a concerning cinematographer equally talented in his craft. Pro Lyrical and Josiah Mendoza take it to the source, capturing the very heart and energy of this sonic-novella on location in Washington, DC.
Curious about House of Lies? Pro Lyrical was recently interviewed about House of Lies on the Hip Hop Citizen Blog. Or just watch the video:
If you want to read the lyrics, they’re on Youtube. Hint: They’re in the video description. You’re welcome.
Learn more about Professor Lyrical at https://www.professorlyrical.com/ Pro Lyrical’s music is on Spotify and House of Lies is currently featured on my Social Justice Protest Mix Playlist. Be sure to add House of Lies to your playlist too!