Getting turned onto an amazing artist is one of the best things in life: like finding a twenty in your pocket; getting in an open window when you're locked out; a call from an ex regretting giving you up; somebody ahead of you paying your tab. Listening to Classified for the first time was an example of such serendipity- on the cusp of blowing up, full of talent and boasting a message you really can't get anywhere else, Classified's Hitch Hikin' Music will take you where you wanna go.
If there is one word to describe Classified, it's gritty. Although basically unknown in the U.S., Classified has been slogging through Canadian hip hop for a decade. As we are accosted by the Jay-Z's and the P-Diddy's, it is easy to forget what it means to be legit hip hop, in it for the soul of it. And Hitch Hikin' Music is damn soulful. With conversational but poetic lyrics and hard knock insights on what it means to be an MC who doesn't sell out, Classified has produced another album for the people. One can't help but feel he took a shortcut and just put some beats behind his diary entries. On track 8, Hip-Hop Star, Classified makes very honest statements about the hip-hop industry, what it is like to not fit a stereotype, and how it feels to be judged. I felt particularly touched by his comments on his crappy cell phone and car (also my life...). Throughout the tracks, we get an honest, risky, vulnerable look into his life: his habits, his joys, his wife (particularly refreshing), his perspective on hardship and living. When you're poor, working hard, young and ambitious not getting anywhere, a person is forced to develop things to tell themselves to keep going. In Hitch Hikin' Music, we get Classified's self talk, which is full of hope, perseverance, and determination.
Classified brings together a range of interesting sounds, from call-and-response rap/vocal arrangements, gospel influenced vocals (as on the excellent track 6 Feeling Fine), some R and B, some soul, different tempos and guitar riffs for overall musical diversity.
I can't help but feel that Classified's handle is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Things that are classified are so important that they can't be shared with the public. His music is the same way; it should get exposure, but it has thus far been pretty locked down. But that could end right now if you'd go and pick it up