Tuesday, May 31, 2011
HE'S ALWAYS CLASSY: RAPPER "CLASSIFIED" CALLS ABOUT CANADA, CELEBS, AND THE REST OF THE WORLD
"That Ain't Classy" may be rotating as #5 on the MuchMusic countdown this week, but MMVA-nominated artist Classified refuses to abuse his bragging rights. In our phone interview today, Luke Boyd (that's his real name) remained calm, cool, and collected - just like your average dude and not the "self-centered weirdo" he refers to on his hit single. The Enfield, Nova Scotia-based rapper has actually been performing for a decade. No, his popularity didn't spontaneously erupt from a YouTube video (sorry, Bieber) or MySpace channel. All Belieb-ers aside, Classified matured gradually as a young artist, man, and father to his two little daughters. Classified went from coming out with his debut album Union Dues in 2001 and his best-selling record Self-Explanatory 8 years later (2009) - where he (kinda) invented a more modern version of the national anthem with his hit "Oh, Canada" for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic games - to giving Handshakes and Middle Fingers (2010) (especially to those celebs who aren't very "Classy") and selling over 70K records in his lifetime (phew). Here, Classified spits some food for thought about the multiculturalism in Canada, multiculturalism in his video for "Oh Canada," and multiculturalism that is now - Charlie Sheen. Vote Classified's "That Ain't Classy" for UR Fave Video at the 2011 MMVAs http://mmva.muchmusic.com/whos-gonna-get-the-last-nom-for-ur-fave-video/.
V.B. So, you've just been nominated with a MMVA. How does it feel?
C. I feel pretty good about it. It was for the first video the MMVAs have nominated me for. (The MMVAs are also a great opportunity) to say what's up to everyone.
V.B. You grew up in Enfield, Nova Scotia. What's it like down there? What sets it apart from Toronto?
C. Enfield is a small town, about 35,000 people. Everyone knows each other at the grocery store (laughs). It's a bit slower-paced than Toronto or any "big city."
V.B. What's your view on multiculturalism in Canada? How do you show that you're proud to be Canadian?
C. Well, I made a song called "Oh Canada," so that shows I'm pretty proud (laughs). I lived here my whole life. The scenery is beautiful. I like the fact that we have the freedom here to live how we want. There aren't many natural disasters, religious (restrictions), or wars.
V.B. Speaking of "Oh Canada," scandal stirred up about there not being enough African Canadians in the music video.
C. Canada's very multicultural, Toronto and Vancouver more than other (towns). There are alot of Mic Macs and whites where I grew up, and lots of Asians and Jamaicans here in Toronto. Not alot of black people came out for the music video shoot, and I'm not gunna stop the video because of that; that would actually look more racist, if anything. I'm done talking about this though; I've already addressed this issue on my album.
V.B. In "That Ain't Classy," you rap about celebrities who behave like divas or snobs. How do you see yourself as normal from other celebrities? Any examples you wouldn't like to follow?
C. It's been more like a cult (in this industry), these past few years. I was just poking fun at the stereotypical celebrity. Some people take it like I'm actually saying these celebrities aren't classy. But, there's that mind frame of people being famous just to be famous, and who cares what other people think? Jersey Shore and Charlie Sheen (have that mind frame). What would your kids think? That ain't classy (laughs).
V.B. (Laughs). Saying that, is the industry as wild as the tabloids make it out to be, or is it all just scripted like reality TV?
C. It's definitely a party; everything you hear about music tours are true. But, it depends on what you want to do. You don't have to party like that. It's alot of hard work though; you can balance party and work life, (to) earn the party.
V.B. You have two little girls. How do you balance being a father and an artist?
C. I have a studio built in behind my garage. Today, I got up at 8 AM and was with my kids until 10 AM (One is 2 years, 9 months, and the other is about 10 months). I work close to home, so I can see them at home. But when you're on the road for 2 weeks, you can always use Skype. There's no easy way to do it.
V.B. You have a song called "Anybody Listening." Are there any causes that you feel should be brought to our attention more?
C. From the MC's point of view, people wanna hear songs about drinking and dancing - generic bullshit. How about curing cancer? Do people really want to listen any meaningful lyrics? Is there any point in taking the time to write (songs)? You have to look hard (for people who are listening), but are people really listening? (That's what the song is about).
V.B. You have two very interesting album(s) title(s), Handshakes and Middle Fingers and Self-Explanatory. These titles seem to give a ton of attitude. What's your philosophy on dealing with haters and sticky situations?
C. I actually tweeted about that this morning. For every person that loves your music, there's someone who hates it. There's a middle point, though: voicing your opinion or saying you don't really love or hate. Deal with hate, because there's alot of hate out there. But, make sure you voice your opinion too. Ignore haters, because they have something wrong with their lives (that may have nothing to do with you). I was once a hater coming into this industry, blaming my daddy. But once I focused on my music, I forgot about other people and was able to focus on myself (in a positive way).
V.B. Any last words? Who would you love to collaborate with?
C. I wanna produce a track on Royce's and Eminem's CD. I've worked with Royce before. I'm also working on festival dates and music video shoots this summer.