TRAVIS Vs. Classified

I haven’t met anyone who hasn’t heard of Classified. When moms start singing some of the words to his songs “Anybody Listening?” and “Oh… Canada”, you know he’s pretty famous.

Just like every other interview, I’m in pre-game mode. I’m running my questions over in my head and feeling extremely anxious. Just as I get collected, my phone rings.

“Hey, this is Classified, how’re you doing?”

I wanted to stay calm and tell him I’m good but instead, I said, “I’m kinda nervous.” Lucky for me, Classified is a pretty cool guy and tells me not to be. There’s a friendly tone in his voice as he asks me a little bit about myself and where I’m from. My first question for Classified is about where his name came from.

“I came up with that name when I was 16. I always tell people I wish I had some crazy story about it but I got nothing.” Like all artists, he didn’t have a name in the beginning and couldn’t stick to one he liked. “When I was looking through the newspaper, I saw classified so I started coming up with a bunch of different things to play off the word.” Eventually, people started calling him Classified and the name stuck.

Unlike most rappers, Classified didn’t grow up in a big city like Toronto surrounded by inspiration. He grew up outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia in the small town of Enfield, which has a population of around 3,000. While in high school, Classified, along with a couple other guys started rapping where they became known as “the high school rappers.” “We rapped at school dances, which gave me the energy and hype that made me want to do this.”

After high school, Classified moved out of Enfield to live in Halifax. “I think being from a small town, you can’t just focus on that one area you’re from because the world’s a lot bigger than that small town. When I moved to Halifax and started doing stuff there, I had to start thinking bigger. Instead of focus on Halifax, I started focusing on Canada.”

From that mindset, Classified has gained a fairly large fan base throughout Canada not just by his music, but communicating with his fans. Since he’s usually online, he’ll talk to fans through e-mail, Facebook and Twitter. After shows, Classified isn’t someone to say “no” to a fan. “I’m going out signing autographs, taking pictures and doing whatever they want. After 10 years of doing this, I think that’s what’s built my fan base. They know that I appreciate them coming out and I’m not just there for a pay-cheque.”

As a producer, Classified is always looking for new talent to work with. Since he lived in Halifax, he holds contests there to find young rappers to work with and hopefully give them a name. To do this, they have to have the drive and the attitude to take hip-hop seriously. “It’s a rare breed, it’s hard to find that artist that’s really going to take it to the next level and really going to push their shit,” Classified said.

Since he’s become big name in the Canadian rap game, I asked where he would be if he weren’t who he was today. “Luke Boyd [his real name], the computer support technician. That’s what I was doing before I started hip-hop full-time.” Classified was laid off from his job at MT&T in 2003, the same year his album “Trial & Error” was released. “I had it all planned out. Let me get my unemployment and go hard on this music shit for a year.” On the second last day at work, he was offered another job that would pay $40,000 – $50,000 a year. Instead of taking the spot, he chose to be a full-time hip-hop artist and producer. “My parents were fucking loosing their mind but it worked out. I really wanted the music shit and when my unemployment ran out, I started making money from shows. I kept covering my bills and every year, I become more and more successful. I think the parents are happy now with my choice.”

With Classifieds next album “Handshakes and Middle Fingers” being released March 22, he said it’s going to be the same quality music as the other records. Each new album, Classified tries to step up his songwriting, rhyming and production. “It’s just the next step of my life, what I’m going through and what’s happened to me over the last two years. I just put it together, put some beats over it and rap it.”

– Matt Main

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