An interview with hometown rap hero Classified | Music | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

An interview with hometown rap hero Classified

One of our favourite local rappers went all out on his 16th album

click to enlarge An interview with hometown rap hero Classified
c/o Classified
Classified (Luke Boyd)

On January 15, Halifax rapper Classified released Greatful, his 16th studio album with features from the real OG Snoop Dogg, Brooklyn's DJ Premier (PRhyme), and local artists like singer-songwriter David Myles and popstar Ria Mae. This week, I called up Class (real name: Luke Boyd), chilling in his studio, to chat about the album, his upcoming tour and watching Netflix.

Congrats on the album! It's got some serious jams going on. Your 16th album has 16 tracks. But I read an article that said Greatful will be your last album? Is that true?

Actually, I don't know. CBC kinda blew that up like it was gonna be my last one, but I kinda always feel like every album is going to be my last album. I'm so exhausted and sometimes I feel like I've written about everything I'm gonna' write about. For this one, though, I did get some features from guys I'm big fans of, and it was also just a lot of me focusing on my own stuff for it. So it felt pretty good. But I do find I'm getting a bit more involved with the people around me. So maybe this could be the last one. But I think I'll still be making music and putting songs out and stuff. 

I love the "No Pressure" song, with Snoop Dogg. How did that come about?

That was me being a big fan. I had been reaching out for a few minutes before he ended up coming here for The Trailer Park Boys. When I found that out, I got in touch with management, like he'll be just 20 minutes down the road from me. So they invited me to bring a small studio to his hotel. 

What was chillin' with Snoop like?

At first, it was all business. He doesn't really know me, you know. I mean, we've done a few shows over the years, but he wasn't too familiar. So it was like, at first, like hey what's up, very business-like. And his security and everybody was there. But once he got into the song, he became more chill and we started having fun, had some puffs. So it was cool. It started a little weird but it got cool. 

Along with the Snoop feature, "No Pressure" also samples a Dave Sampson song.

Yeah, the song started from that. Dave sent me his album, asking I wanted to sample any of it, so I put the CD on, and that's the first track, and I was like, 'Oh shit, this is a cool chorus,' you know, the hook of the song. I had the whole song done before I hooked up with Snoop. And then I wanted to make it not so east-coast heavy, so I had Dave re-sing it as the "west coast" and then I was like, 'Who's the biggest from the west coast that could add to this track?' and of course, that's Snoop.

Well that's pretty interesting to take it coast-to-coast, because I've always thought about how "Maritimes" was such a regional song, and then "Oh Canada" was national, and now you're reaching international. Like, you keep going out and out. 

(Laughs) It wasn't put out that way. I mean, I never meant to do it that way. If you take a step back, it seems like I'm just making songs and I'll get a little bigger every time until I make a song about the world (laughs), but I think it's more because I like to represent where I'm from. That's what gives me my identity. When I first started touring out of the Maritimes, I was representing the people and lifestyle of the Maritimes, to let the rest of Canada know what we're about. Then when I started touring outside of Canada, people would be like, "Oh you guys are hip hop fans? What do you do there?" So I said, let me make a song about it. I always wanna rep where I'm from.

Do you have a favourite song on Greatful

It's really hard to pick. It's like picking a favourite kid, I mean, you like them for different reasons. I like one of my kids 'cause she's funny, and I like the other one, too (laughs). "It's Hard to Understand" is a deep track. We're working on a video for it, and four other ones, because it doesn't really fit in the radio world and I want visuals for it. I like "No Pressure" because it has to do with Snoop, and "Filthy" is some old-school hip hop, like when I was first coming up. 

So you've got this tour coming up...

I feel like I've been touring for 12 years now. It was nice to stay home for a bit and focus on stuff. Me and Dave (Sampson) have songs we're working on. We've got David Myles' new album coming up. Right now I'm in the studio working on this tour, lining up the set list. We'll be making some noise in Canada and the States. It'll have a party vibe. But since wrapping the album, we've just been doing promo for it and getting people hyped on the tour, and hanging with my kids. 

You watching football? 

No, I never really got into football, but all my boys watch it. But I was into hockey growing up, until I got into music. But actually I still play twice a week. I just played last week. 

Nice. That's sweet. You watching any cool shows lately? 

Yeah, we just got our Netflix hooked up so we're new to the game but I got as far as Episode 7 of Making a Murderer, I got all into reading the real documents and all the shit from the show, but it didn't seem like it was that good anymore so I didn't finish it. It just showed the one side of this guy. But I'm into Narcos, I really liked that. And I watch Empire, even though it's so cheesy, for some reason I really like it. I usually find that any TV show that's about the music industry is usually cheesy for some reason. But I really like Empire.

Yeah there's that new HBO series about the industry in the 70s, Vinyl.

Oh yeah, didn't Mick Jagger have something to do with that?

Yeah, it looks like it'll be good. So who else would you like to work with?

Well Snoop was the top. But 90s rappers I grew up with, like Nas and Jay-Z ... Eminem. I don't think there's just one person. Ed Sheeran is cool, I met him a couple years ago. Lately I've been working so much with Ria (Mae) and Dave. I like the singer-songwriter on guitar, then coming in and putting drums on it and producing the track. I like doing that, because it's so different from what I've been doing for the last 15 years. It's refreshing. I think that's what I'll be doing more of. 

Classified plays The Marquee on March 18th, with Son Real. Buy tickets now.

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