A&E » Music

Classified Canadian hip hop

Juno-nominee Classified keeps Canada on the hip hop-rap music scene



Who: Classified

When: Tuesday, March 21

Where: Moe Joe’s

Tickets: $10

Does a rap scene exist in Canada?

According to Maritimer and Juno-nominated hip-hop rapper Classified, a.k.a. Luke Boyd, no such industry exists – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

"It’s basically a Canadian hip hop scene and a lot of artists are doing what they can to make it happen," Classified said. "It’s good because no one has really made it yet, but at the same time, it is very hard to get your music out to the masses on a huge level ’cause we just don’t have the industry to make that happen – barely any commercial hip hop stations. It seems the only way to get your music out on a national level is through video and MuchMusic."

Classified is one step closer to getting his music out there, with a 2006 Juno Award nomination for Best Rap Album for Boy-Cott-In The Industry.

The Halifax-native’s album, which not surprisingly grapples with industry challenges, is keeping good company with other Canadian nominees, including Eternia, Fire and Glory, K’naan and Sweatshop Union.

"It feels great (to be nominated)," Classified said. "After making music for about 10 years and then the Junos coming to Halifax and the success we had in the last year, it feels really good – especially with other nominees as well. Everyone has a really good chance."

He called Eternia the best MC in Canada; Kardinal (of Fire and Glory) the most internationally recognized Canadian hip hopper; Sweatshop the biggest road dogs in Canada; and touted K-naan’s album, The Dusty Foot Philosopher, as inspiring and original.

This year marks another first for the Maritimes with an "ode" to Classified’s roots in a bagpipe track on Boy-Cott-In The Industry .

"At first it was a joke," he explained of the track. "Me and a couple of friends in the studio were drinking. I had that beat and threw it on. We kind of freestyled the chorus and recorded it. The next day I played it and really liked it. I re-wrote everything and made something for the Maritimes, which no one has ever done before, so it felt good."

The rap star began his rhyming career in the early 1990s. He started his own label, HalfLife Records, producing tracks for himself and other Halifax hard knocks, such as Kaspa, Nathan Cruise and Ground Squad. East Coast Music Awards and Urban Music Association of Canada accolades followed, as did opening spots for the likes of Saukrates, 112, Ludacris, Busta Rhymes, Blackmoon, Rascalz, Maestro, Choclair and Swollen Members, among others. His ninth album, Trial & Error , containing collaborations with Eternia, DL Incognito and Maestro, was one of the highest grossing independent rap albums in Canada in 2003. His efforts climaxed with Boy-Cott-In The Industry , featuring guest appearances from Choclair, Royce 5’9, J-Bru, Spesk K and Mic Boyd.

"No one has the same life, so I figure I just write about what I am going through then I don’t have to worry about biting other people and at the time if people go through what I am talking about, they can relate and that makes them appreciate what I am doing a lot more," Classified said.

Tours are part of the future for Classified. However, he is spending more and more time in the recording studio, working for others as well as himself.

"(I see myself) selling beat, production for other artists (in the future)," he said. "I know I don’t wanna be out touring in a minivan with a bunch of guys when I am 35, so I really want to focus on the beats and production of other people."

Check out the special Whistler performance before Classified returns home for the Junos.

"(Expect) a good time," he said. "No one is screw facing ya or trying to act hard. If you are into hip hop and the hip hop vibe, you’ll have a good time. Beats and Rhymes."

Advanced $10 tickets are available at Electric Daisy and The Circle.