For My Peoples -Lowell ThemeX-Caliber
Summary X-Cal Bio:
X-Cal is Professor Lyrical, Fee the Evolutionist, and Ruby Shabazz. Fee and Lyrical have been friends since childhood, with the duo meeting Ruby in Lowell at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell where all three members formerly attended. X-Cal releases on 12-inch vinyl all include production by longtime friend, roommate, and collaborator Dale "Syntax" Chase who also was attending UMass-Lowell at the time. X-Cal, along with its honorary fourth member and in-house producer Syntax, would produce the legendary single "Butta Messenga," b/w "Les Miserable" ft. Syntax with scratches by DJ Def Rock. Similarly, and following the same formula, their follow up 12-inch and maxi-single "Brand Name Women" release also featured "Butta Messenga Remix" and "Don't Make it Hard (Le Miz II)." Both records, recorded and engineered at Wonka Sound by Sir Bob Nash, received enormous air-play support throughout New England and launched their sound to a global audience while also helping to cement the work of Nash at Wonka as a fixture within Mass Hip Hop circles. Though the members have been part of a multitude of projects throughout the years, it was not until 2021 when Fee decided to release his first solo material that Fee the Evolutionist ft. Professor Lyrical & Ruby Shabazz reunited as X-Cal by recording "Back in the Dayz." The record is produced by longtime friend, mentor, and platinum producer Ski Beatz. The single was promoted to radio in the late summer of 2022 and continues to receive tremendous airplay support.
Full X-Caliber Biography:
X-Caliber is a legendary rap group formed while emcees Professor Lyrical ("Lyrical" Lord Plourde) and Fee (Cruz Master Fee aka Ambassador at Large) were teenagers. The group originally consisted of four emcees, including Joey B., Marcus "The Heat" B. Hot, and originally called itself "Cruz Control" as early as the 1986-87 school year." They switched their name to X-Caliber shortly after and added DJ Styles from New York. DJ Zulu would replace Styles who often couldn't travel to New England for shows or recording.
X-Caliber released its first 12 inch single, "Twist on Dis," recorded at Newbury Sound in Boston, as a collaboration with producer DJ Luis "Col'" Medina. Well over a year later, Medina released the record on Lowell, Massachusetts based Jam - Trac Records in the late spring of 1989. DJ Luis Medina often produced and submitted "mega-mixes" to the UMass-Lowell college radio station (then known as WJUL) on the Soul Spectrum Friday night shows with DJ Don Sauders where X-Caliber demos were regularly played. This led to several shows at UMass-Lowell and others in the city promoted by Saunders featuring X-Caliber and other area acts such as the legendary EMC-3 Crew, which also featured long-time friend and collaborator Donnie "Def Rock" Maker. Lord Plourde and Fee would go on to attend UMass-Lowell shortly after and eventually became radio DJs for the station with Plourde becoming the urban music director as well after an executioner style shooting took the life of their friend and former urban music director, Evrol Officer.
This incarnation of X-Cal would release a full length album, "No Labels," distributed nationally by the Strawberries Records & Tapes chain and sold out of its initial pressing in less than a month. X-Cal quickly secured various commercial sponsorships—including a deal with Massachusetts based Converse—first wearing the Converse Cons and later its Magic sneaker after creating a theme song endorsing the Magic line for instore play at sneaker retailers carrying the brand. The promotion of the sneakers was soon after cancelled when Magic Johnson abruptly retired due to contracting HIV.
X-Cal would additionally be contracted to write commercial campaigns for Apollo/HP Computers and Nick Paleologus for Lt. Governor; the one minute song for Paleologos was played as a radio commercial helping earn the Paleologus campaign honors for best media campaign. Shortly after, X-Cal would write and perform an anthem for (the now late) presidential candidate, and Lowell native, Senator Paul Tsongas during his bid for the presidency. During this time, X-Caliber often performed throughout New England while being managed by Peter Handy of Dorchester, Massachusetts with strong connections to Maurice Starr and House of Hits. X-Cal turned down recording and contract opportunities with House of Hits and its Westford recording offices at Mission Control.
X-Cal downsized while its members were all attending college and now featured Fee and Lord Plourde as its primary emcees. Now students at UMass-Lowell, Fee and Lord, along with DJ Zulu (also a Lowell resident), would proceed to release its own first single, "Dance with the Rhythm." X-Caliber would continue to add new sponsors, such as Xanthus Sneakers/Jindo Furs; Xanthus also secured endorsements from Xavier McDaniel who was soon after traded from the NY Knicks to the Boston Celtics.
Heading into the mid- 1990s, Lyrical Lord Plourde was gaining notoriety as an emcee battler, competing in such prestigious battles as DJ Clark Kent's Superman Battle for World Supremacy (NYC), various Zulu Nation Battles in NYC, and the Boston "Superbowl" emcee battles—all while Lord and Fee were still spinning records themselves at the UMass-Lowell. Plourde was also named to Michael Bivens (Motown/Biv 10 Records) label, recording a record under the name of "Biv 10 All-Stars" featuring ten of Boston's up and coming emcees on a track produced by Bivens and featuring New Edition/BBD member, Ronnie DeVoe. Due to complications with Motown, the record unfortunately was never released.
Fee and Lyrical would again streamline X-Cal (now only Fee & Lord) and, by 1996, this new leaner version of X-Cal was being produced in NYC by Ski of Original Flavor (Ski Beatz) while he was also in the midst of producing classics for Jay-Z, Camp Lo, Bahamadia and more. Fee and Lyrical were, at the time, both Enterprise Rent-A-Car employees, enabling them to take vehicles to NYC nearly every weekend to record over the course of a year.
Lyrical secured an apartment in downtown Lowell, which would serve as home base for the X-Cal roommates to start recording songs of their own after constant drives to NYC became untenable. Vocalist Ruby Red (Shabazz) and producer/emcee Dale "Syntax" Chase (also UMass-Lowell students) would be added to the X-Cal fam and, together, under the tutelage of Ski, would begin recording their own future Boston Hip Hop classics—engineered by Sir Bob Nash of Lowell's Wonka Sound with scratches by, the afore mentioned, longtime friend and fellow Lowell emcee and graf legend DJ Def Rock. These records included the groundbreaking single, "Butta Messenga," and the follow up remix and single, "Brand Name Woman" b/w "Butta Messenga Remix."
These records were consistently spun on national college radio shows, locally throughout major Boston stations, such as WILD 1090AM (in daily rotation on DJ Tee Clark's Thunderstorm), by nearly every weeknight DJ at WERS 88.9FM, and weekends by long-time friend and WMBR urban music director DJ Jimmiz, nightly on WERS (88.9@ Night), and received early evening weeknight airplay on WJMN 94.5FM—compliments of DJ Roy Barboza.
In 1998, following up on the success of these singles, X-Cal began recording songs like "The Renaissance" and "One Life," which would not be released until 2005 as hidden tracks on Lyrical's first solo project, and award winning album, "iNFiNiTi." (which also contains the title song "iNFiNiTi" featuring Fee). By this time, Fee and Ruby (also later known for Ruby and the Grove/Ruby Shabazz), after moving to Nashua, NH, had also been producing and recording tracks for their new Hip Hop/R&B duo One Love and were regularly playing throughout the Greater Boston area as well. Lyrical, now living in Cambridge, MA and recording with his own new group (Invasion), also released several successful vinyl singles ("Why"/"Salt") with his new Cambridge based squad. While balancing teaching high school math, working as an adjunct math and music professor at various Boston area colleges, Lyrical was also well-known as one of the largest Boston area Hip Hop promoters (2001-2007) and by 2006 had enrolled full-time in a graduate math degree program at UMass-Lowell before completing his final three courses closer to home at Harvard.
Lyrical (now more commonly known as Professor Lyrical) released a 2008 album entitled "The College Project" engineered and largely produced by his former student, Robie Rowland, who would go on to open Echo, a highly successful studio in Boston where Lyrical would later record his 2013 ground-breaking album, "Put Em All To Shame." By this time, Professor Lyrical was teaching full-time for Northeastern University (2010-2017) and regularly taught as an adjunct professor at many Boston area colleges.
Lyrical married vocalist Nicole "Love Jones" Jones (Berklee College of Music [Jazz] and University of Virginia [Classical Vocals]) whom he met through Fee and Ruby while One Love was performing as part of the super-group "Tempting Fate Review" which also featured Nicole. Lyrical had booked Tempting Fate as the backing band for his "iNFiNiTi" album release shows. Lyrical, Nicole, and their son Henry now live in Northern Virginia (where Nicole is also originally from), just outside of Washington DC, where Professor Lyrical is employed as an associate professor and faculty development director. He regularly performs, speaks, and travels to scores of colleges and universities. He is now part of the duo ProQuo with fellow Massachusetts native Jay "Quokane" Cruz.
Fee and Ruby have continued making music and performing for many years, more recently as Ruby & The Groove or with Fee and the Evolutionists. Fee "The Evolutionist" has produced and recorded a record, "Beast over Beats" released in late 2021 featuring Pro & Quo and several area emcees. Additionally, Lyrical, Fee, and Ruby recently (Christmas, 2021) released their first X-Cal project (Produced by Ski Beatz), "Back in the Dayz" in several years, helping to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Jay-Z's classic album "Reasonable Doubt," featuring four tracks produced by Ski; X-Cal had the good fortune to witness much of the album recorded live at Ski's home-studio and D&D Studios in NYC. Back in the Dayz was promoted to college radio and mix-show format stations in the late summer of 2022 and has received tremendous support from DJs all around the world.
X-Caliber @ Smith College w/ BDP