After being in the rap game for 13 years now, long enough to be considered somewhat of a veteran by some, Classified has learned a few things about the rap industry. On March 22, the lyricist with a friendly personality and the charm of a teenager that doesnít wanna grow up entertained fans at the Buffalo Club in Vancouver. Dressed in a hoodie and shirt with sagging blue jeans, white sneakers and a black fitted cap, the lyricist born Luke Boyd appeared as a typical man in his late 20s, but his achievements and lyrical abilities made him anything but typical.
It was Classifiedís first time performing at the Buffalo Club, and the ďskinny white-dude who ainít nothing to fearĒ gave fans a show worth remembering, performing alongside his brother Mike Boyd and friend Jay-Bizzy. The show was everything fans expected it to be, and those who attended were pretty content with Classifiedís performance. ďThe show was dope,Ē said Ryan Poznikoff, 23. ďI was especially surprised when Maestro came up on stage to do tracks with Classified.Ē
The opening acts were great and a surprise performance by Canadian hip-hop legend Maestro Fresh Wes made the show even more memorable. Classified satisfied everyone in the crowd, playing tracks from his new album Boy-cott in the Industry and old tracks like ďHigh School BehaviourĒ and ďThe Maritimes.Ē Everyone in the crowd got what they wanted and left the club feeling lifted from either all the music or the herb in the air. Class also stayed behind after the show to sign autographs for fans.
I sat down with Classified after his performance ĖĖ and being hounded by fans for photos and autographs ĖĖ to talk about his new album, what stage he is at in his rap career, his past and future, and what he thinks of hip-hop music today.
MVRemix: You started rapping at around the age of 15. Being older now, what changes have you noticed in the hip-hop scene, besides the style of music?
Classified: The clothing, the slang. Thereís a million changes, but in Canadian stuff there arenít
many changes industry-wise. Itís the same shit as 10 years ago. Like Maestro said, he sold the most hip-hop records for a Canadian artist. That was back in í89, which was like 17 years ago, and no ones been able to do that again yet. I think thatís the biggest problem with Canadian hip-hop: the industry didnít change with it. It needs to evolve.
MVRemix: Does everyone in major Canadian cities still show you love, or does it seem you are getting more attention in less-than likely places?
Classified: Every major city is good, but the backcountries that never get hip-hop love this shit. Fans come up to me and say ďthis is the first hip-hop show Iíve ever seen,Ē and Iím like ďYo! Itís 2006 [and] you never seen a hip-hop show?Ē Itís crazy. They love it. They feed off of your energy, and sometimes they donít even know how to vibe out 'cause they ain't used to it.
MVRemix: In your opinion, what other Canadian music artists ĖĖ not just hip-hop ĖĖ are representing the maple leaf well?
Classified: Our Lady Peace, Billy talent. I can go on for days.
MVRemix: Other than rap/hip-hop music what other artists do you listen to?
Classified: To be honest I donít even really listen to much since my car stereo broke like nine months ago, and if I ainít in my car I don't really listen to nothing. I only listen when Iím at home or in the studio. I really donít listen to shit unless Iím in the club or something but once in awhile Iíll pick up some stuff like Kanyeís new album, or the new Common and Sean Priceís Monkey Barz when Iím out on tour.
MVRemix: In a previous interview with MVRemix you said that your ultimate goal was to get your music out to a larger audience and to be able to support yourself comfortably through your love of music without any worries. Howís the goal going so far?
Classified: Itís there. Iím good right now. I know Iím good for a couple of years, but I wonít front. Like in 10 years, I don't know. Itís at a point now where I know I am good for at least five years, with what Iíve put in, but in 10 years, I don't know.
MVRemix: This isnít your first time in Vancity, what is your favourite venue that youíve performed at and why?
Classified: The [Buffalo Club] was cool, except for them not letting us smoke weed in here [laughing], but we played the Lamplighter last time. It was a weird club, the setup was weird also, but the show was off [the hook]. The lamplighter was really dope, so Iíd say the lamplighter so far.
MVRemix: In your first live performances you must have been nervous. How is it to perform now? Do you still get nervous at times?
Classified: A lil bit. I think everybody does. Itís not even nervousness, I just want to know the vibe of the club, know how people feel, but once you get the vibe itís easier.
MVRemix: You once said that if hip-hop was a woman, sheíd look like a nicely dressed woman with class. What do she look like now?
Classified: [Laughs] I donít even wanna say. If you look at hip-hop as whatís on MTV and BET, itís dumbed down stupid music. Itís good, I wonít lie. It moves in the club. She looks good, but sheís been fucked a million times, same positions, same everything.
MVRemix: Do you feel as if it is still hard for Canadian artists to make it big in the business, seeing as theyíre not from well-known rap states like New York or California?
Classified: Not even that thereís a lot of people in Europe that blow up, and we just donít know, but in Canada it seems like there isnít anyone living off of hip-hop. Like K-OS, donít get me wrong, heís hip-hop and a great artist, but the reason he blew up is because he crossed over to the rock market, so rock stations can play his shit now. [Also] we donít have a hip-hop station that you can get in every province in every major city
MVRemix: How is Halifax doing in terms of making itself known for hip-hop right now?
Classified: Thereís a ton of people putting stuff out, but they still doing it locally. I focused on Halifax for six years, and then after that Canada. I love representing Canada but it doesnít work when youíre trying to make a living. You got to look at the bigger picture
MVRemix: What is the significance behind the title of your new album Boy-cott in the Industry?
Classified: It is what it is; Iím boycotting the industry. Iím trying to do things my way. I don't know. Hard to explain. Next question. [Laughs]
MVRemix: Can you help describe the album to people who havenít heard it yet?
Classified: Itís real music. Itís not commercial but itís not underground. If you appreciate honest beats and something to vibe with, you might not like what I say or like my flow but itís me. If you donít like it, whatever; if you do, itís cool.
MVRemix: A lot of your songs pertain to childhood struggles: high school, intimidation, clothing fads, etc. What was high school like for you? Did you like it? Were you ever ďvotedĒ best dressed or anything? What trends were you victim to?
Classified: [Laughs] Nah, I was never voted best dressed. I fell to a million trends. I wasnít the nerdy fuckin' loser guy, but I wasn't the super cool guy. I got along with everybody. I had jock friends ícause I played hockey, I was friends with the hip-hop heads ícause I liked hip-hop ĖĖ that was my shit ĖĖ and I had punk friends ícause I grew up with a lot of punks and shit. I was the guy who got along with everybody, never really had problems with anyone. Trends? I donít know if you remember this but youíd fold over the back of your pants and then fold it up like three times and where deck shoes. I donít know if thatís a fad, but it was where I was from.
MVRemix: In your rap career youíve done quite a few collaborations with friends and other music artists. Do you see some of your best work coming out of these collaborations or more when you do solo tracks? You ever feel you need to write your lyrics around the guest artist(s)?
Classified: A lot of peeps like the collabs ícause they like my production and to hear someone else rhyming, which I can understand, but I find from the people who release more shit, itís the solo track, and thatís how I feel. Because on a solo track, you sit there, focus on it for a few days, then you write. But on posse cuts you go into the studio roll some weed and have a good time.
MVRemix: Do you feel like youíve made it yet? Are you where you wanted to be when you began making music?
Classified: Iím good, but, nah, itís not where I though Iíd be when I started hip-hop. I thought Iíd have a big record contract and all, but Iím happy where Iím at right now, if I could be doing this in 20 years without touring, ícause I don't wanna be 40, touring with a bunch of guys in a van. But if I could live like this, paying bills and shit, when Iím 56 yrs old Iíll be set. Iíve got to look at this in 40 yrs form now the business side and all.
MVRemix: Whatís in the near future for Classified?
Classified: New album coming out in the summer, June or July. We getting ready to shoot the first single from that. Doing a lot of production for a lot of people also right now, got some stuff coming out from the states, some big names.
MVRemix: Any advice for up-and-coming rappers struggling to get their names out there?
Classified: Decide if youíre trying to do this shit for fun and have a good time or if you doing this to make a living. If you doing it for business then you gonna have to be able to make that track, you gotta put it all in. If you trying to beat the others out there, youíve got to push that business side as well, to learn the game.
MVRemix: Anything else youíd like to add/Anything youíd like to say to your fans including those here tonight?
Classified: Keep supporting my shit. I ainít got no big label pushing me. I ainít on no crazy shit. I book my tours, manage my own shit, check my own e-mail. If you lovin' the music keep supporting it.