CANADA WEEK 2008
Doing great is a position
STILL relatively unheard of in the Canadian Hip-Hop bizz. Nova Scotias Classified however, a name
steadily hot on everyones tongue throughout his almost 15 year career, can
realistically boast the status. Steady
on the grind in mind and time, Class has spent more than the last decade of his
young life putting Halifax and Canada on Hip-Hops global map. And he hasnt run out of ideas yet!
Listen to any of Classifieds
albums from While You Were Sleeping all
the way back to Times Up– and you
can tell that hes a man of both style and substance, drawing on personal
encounters rather than rented Benz and always embracing of his Eastern
Canadian heritage. His up-and-coming
works (read on for details!) are promising to be even more exciting for fans
East, West and beyond, with the very influential incorporations of live
instrumentation and fresh parenthood shaping Classifieds sound.
Cats are killing me Luke
Thinking lifes like a video shoot
They ain’t spittin’ the truth
True, I got a similar view
But I guess that’s the damage the industry do
I’m 28, unemployed, a grown ass man
Still trying to rap with no fall back plan.
–Classified & Maestro Fresh Wes, Hard to be Hip-Hop, While You Were Sleeping, 2007
AllHipHop.com: Not sure how much you want to delve into the personal, but
congratulations on the awaited new arrival!
Is there anything you want to elaborate on about that experience?
What has it been like for you? How has it shaped your creativity, your sound,
Classified: Not so much yet; [but] Im really
excited about it. I just think it will
bring a lot to life and more meaning to life, and of course once we have the
baby it’s going to shape my music. I write about life and what Im going
through and that’s going to be a big step so Im sure it’s going to come out in
AllHipHop.com: You toured for
your last album through the starting months of the year— did being full on at
work grinding and touring jumpstart you creatively into 2008?
Classified: Actually, I think
it slowed it down a bit. [Laughing] I was halfway done my new album when we
took off for that tour, and usually when I’m working on my records I like to
stay in the studio for almost ten months straight and just focus on the
recording/writing and nothing else. So
after I got back from that tour it took a few weeks to get back into the swing
of everything but it’s on now! Got the
album almost done and it’s sounding crazya lot of different s**t I tried on
AllHipHop.com: What do you have
in the works for the remainder of 2008? How are you looking to round out the
Classified: Well, [Im] just
working on a deal for my new album, The
Day Before Tomorrow. [Were going
to focus on] Canada [with it] but more importantly were going international as
well. We’re going to have a big team
behind us and try to take everything to that next level. For the rest of 08, finish up my album,
having my first baby, and then back on the road. Oh and in between all that, producing for a bunch of other cats.
(Hip-Hop, Hip-Hop) is my fate, whether or not you relate/ It doesn’t make a difference, either way Class is doing great
–Separate the Music From the Gimmiks, Boy-Cott-In the Industry, 2005
AllHipHop.com: Is there any new
direction you’re going in this year, writing or production-wise? Any new
risks you’re toying with?
Classified: Yeah, quite a bit
actually! Still coming with that
boom-bap sound, but using A LOT more live instruments. I’ve had a sax player in the studio, a flute
player, a lot of guitar and bass players, etc.
The album right now is called The
Day Before Tomorrow, but that could change in the next week! [Laughing] Who knows. I usually
don’t name my album until everything is done.
AllHipHop.com: Do you have a theme for this album you’re working on? How
different is it vibing out with all the people and live instruments as opposed
to more solitary studio work?
Classified: [Theres] not really a theme to
the whole album, but I find most of my songs have something to do with timing:
old days, things to come plus with the interludes as a “day in the life
of”its all about todaywhich is the day before tomorrow. For [recording with] live instruments, it
wasnt a whole lot different. I really
looked at it the same way as going through records: I’d have them play the
guitar or flute for three and a half minutes over a drum beat, then I’d go back
and listen to parts I liked and sampled them that way.
AllHipHop.com: What about
collaborations for the album? Must be
Classified: I just did a song
with Joel Plaskett (local rocker from the Maritimes) and we did some really
different s**t that just feels great! I
got a track with Choclair and Maestro on there and am working out something
with K-OS and Saukrates, hoping to have that done in time. And I got some next level s**t too! I didn’t want to do skits on this album, so
I did a day in the life of Classified throughout [it]but it’s all choose
your own adventure! (Remember those old books as a kid?) So you start with me waking up, then if you
want to go to the city, go to track 8.
If you want to go for a bike ride, go to track 10. And the listener basically deicdes where
they want to go. So Im definitely
trying a lot of different s**t, but still sticking to my formulamost of the
AllHipHop.com: Anybody you’ve
worked with or plan to work with that you’re particularly excited
Classified: S**t [all of the]
above. Choclair and Maestro, Joel
Plaskett, just working on a track right now with Royce 59, my local partners,
J-Bru, Mic Boyd, Chad Hatcher, White Mic, Jay Bizzy, etc.
AllHipHop.com: What do you foresee, vs. what do you hope
for, for the Canadian Hip-Hop scene? What have you personally seen as an
example of a hindrance to that ideal situation happening?
Classified: I see a lot of the
same s**t happening. I almost feel like
ten years ago, the Canadian industry side of things was a lot more stable. Dont get me wrongI think the Canadian
scene (the art, not the business) is on pointmore than ever. There is so much great music being made in
this country; it’s just not getting out there enough yet. I think with Kardinal coming out [with an album]
soon that might change everything. He’s got a HUGE hit on his hands right
now and people are noticing and paying attention, so it’ll be great to see how
that works out. [He] could do a lot for
Canadian Hip-Hop, hopefully get people to open their eyes a bit and see what
AllHipHop.com: You said the Canadian business side of things is not totally on
point. What needs to be done in your opinion to get it there?
Classified: More businessmen and women and
not rappers friends, more structure to putting out a Hip-Hop record. When someone releases a rock record in
Canada, they know what to do. They know
where and when to service the single, what radio stations to hit, what
publicists to use to get good press, etc. etc.
With Hip-Hop, its try this, and if that dont work, try this next
time around. So just more structure,
more business-minded people and even more hard work and dedication to this
AllHipHop.com: How have you
seen your own impact take shape in Enfield, Halifax and beyond?
definitely. With Enfield s**t it was
only me and four other people that listened to Hip-Hop here. So, just with Hip-Hop [itself] growing and
becoming so big over the years, there are a lot more people in Enfield that
listen to Hip-Hopbut still, not so many artists. I think our population is like 3,000 or so, so its a small
place. But in Halifax, there are so
many artists working and making great music, I think even just with me and my
crew out touring, releasing albums, doing videos it just kind of shows people
that it is possible to do this music thing.
Its a ton of f**king work, but if youre down to do it, then you CAN
get your music out there.
AllHipHop.com: A lot of
your tracks have this underlying message about a continual effort to see the
truth and maintain the truth in our perceptions of things (like the music
industry). This many years and albums in, do you find it easier or harder
to “maintain your own truths”?
“I could give two s**ts
about being cool; Im a lot more comfortable being myself.”
Classified: Way easier! Growing up, I always felt like there were
certain things you can say and certain things you can’t, because it wasnt
cool. But now I could give two s**ts
about being cool; Im a lot more comfortable being myself. [And that] makes it easier to write music
and makes the music more authentic.
AllHipHop.com: All-time favourite Canadian rapper?
Classified: Hmm Tie: Maestro
Fresh Wes and Saukrates.
Classified: Right now, John
AllHipHop.com: And finally, how are you celebrating Canada
almost every other Canadian: a beer, a blunt, and hanging with friends and
AllHipHop.com: Any last words,
wishes or shout outs?
Classified: Just big up to
everyone who’s checking for the music and to all the artists making music that
is real to them!
Jessica Linnay is an
Associate Editor of HipHopCanada.com