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Classified: For All Eyes And Ears

classhead

CANADA WEEK 2008

“Doing great” is a position

STILL relatively unheard of in the Canadian Hip-Hop bizz.   Nova Scotia’s Classified however, a name

steadily hot on everyone’s 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-Hop’s global map.  And he hasn’t run out of ideas yet!

 

Listen to any of Classified’s

albums from While You Were Sleeping all

the way back to Time’s Up- and you

can tell that he’s 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 Classified’s sound.

 

“Cats are killing me Luke

Thinking life’s 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,

your plans?  

 

Classified: Not so much yet; [but] I’m 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 I’m going

through and that’s going to be a big step so I’m sure it’s going to come out in

my music.

 

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 crazy—a lot of different s**t I tried on

this album.

 

 

 

AllHipHop.com: What do you have

in the works for the remainder of 2008? How are you looking to round out the

year?

 

Classified: Well, [I’m] just

working on a deal for my new album, The

Day Before Tomorrow.  [We’re going

to focus on] Canada [with it] but more importantly we’re 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: [There’s] 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”—it’s all about today—which is “the day before tomorrow.”  For [recording with] live instruments, it

wasn’t 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

full up.

 

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 I’m definitely

trying a lot of different s**t, but still sticking to my formula—most of the

time! [Laughing] 

 

AllHipHop.com: Anybody you’ve

worked with or plan to work with that you’re particularly excited

about?  

 

Classified: S**t [all of the]

above.  Choclair and Maestro, Joel

Plaskett, just working on a track right now with Royce 5’9, 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.  Don’t get me wrong—I think the Canadian

scene (the art, not the business) is on point—more 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

we’re doing.

 

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, it’s “try this”, and if that don’t work, “try this next

time around.”  So just more structure,

more business-minded people and even more hard work and dedication to this

s**t.

 

AllHipHop.com: How have you

seen your own impact take shape in Enfield, Halifax and beyond?

 

Classified: Yeah

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-Hop—but still, not so many artists.  I think our population is like 3,000 or so, so it’s 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. 

It’s a ton of f**king work, but if you’re 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; I’m 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 wasn’t

“cool.”  But now I could give two s**ts

about being cool; I’m 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.

 

AllHipHop.com: Favorite

non-Hip-Hop musician?

 

Classified: Right now, John

Mayer.

 

AllHipHop.com:  And finally, how are you celebrating Canada

Day 2008?

 

Classified: Like

almost every other Canadian: a beer, a blunt, and hanging with friends and

family. 

 

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

http://www.HipHopCanada.com

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