Classified’s a rapper you can take home to mom.
That is, unless he’s at his own mom’s for dinner. She lives around the block from him in tiny Enfield, N.S. — as does his dad and siblings, a handy situation when searching out session musicians.
“My parents just moved down the road five minutes away, and I’m still on same street as my sister and brother-in-law,” said Classified (real name Luke Boyd). “(My dad) can play guitar and bass, and on the new album he sings a couple hooks. Both of my brothers are on the record. It’s good when the whole family plays instruments — I can call them up and they’ll work for cheap!”
In a genre gutted by bling, brittle beats and stories of crime and cocaine, Classified sticks to humour and a ‘regular guy’ vibe. Now signed to a major label, he insists nothing’s changed: He’s still living near his parents, smoking ganja, riding his bike and making beats in his home studio. These details come out in Self Explanatory, which is sequenced like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. For example, during Up All Night, Classified points out the irony of being born with a speech impediment and ending up a rapper.
“I wanted to do a song and say look — other people see a famous rapper, but I’m just a normal dude, I live in a subdivision,” he said. “My mom will tell me stories about when I was a kid ... and I just thought it was interesting. I had no idea I didn’t speak until I was three.”
On his lucky No. 13 album, Classified both raps and produces. The self-taught beatmaker, like other Canadian rappers (touring partner Shad springs to mind), is a huge ’90s hip-hop fan — West Coast for the melodies, East Coast for the grimy drums and soul samples. His beats recall teenage heroes: Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Nas and most notably, Gangstarr’s DJ Premier.
“I think from 15 to 25 is definitely when you take in the music you like for the rest of life. It was the time when I would just indulge myself, when everything was about music and I always had headphones on,” he said.
“(I love that) whole Primo (DJ Premier) cut-up hook — especially on the Moment of Truth album. How Primo used vocals and other MC’s words as hooks ... I love cutting in an a capella verse and have it flipped into the hook.”
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