Envy: As a child, what kind of music would you listen to and who were your influences?
Classified: I would listen to anything. My parents listened to a lot of 60’s and 70’s rock– The Beatles, Huey Lewis– I always remember that growing up. Even when I was younger, before I started listening to hip hop, we used to do lip sync contests and I remember doing Motley Crue and Kiss. I heard Run DMCs “Tricky” and I think that was the first hip hop song I heard at around 12 years old. After that I just wanted to hear more.
Envy: Was there a defining moment that made you decide to become a rapper?
Classified: The big defining moment for when it started to get serious was when I went to Halifax and hooked up with Joe Ryan who was a DJ and producer. He made my first real beat and that was the first real song I made. That was a big turning point where it went from just me in my room with a couple of friends to me hitchhiking to Halifax to meet people involved in the scene.
Envy: Do you have any other talents? Are you a closet chef, perhaps?
Classified: No, I wish! My girl would love me if I was. I play hockey and skateboarded before I really got into music. Hockey was my life, skateboarding was also a big part of it. Yeah, I think I’m a pretty good hockey player so I’ll go with that.
Envy: Why did you decide to stay in Halifax and not move to a city where the scene is bigger?
Classified: In Canada, the industry doesn’t really make a difference if you’re in Halifax or some small town in the middle of no where, the Canadian industry isn’t big enough. With the internet these days, I don’t think you have to go to big spots like Toronto to have more of an advantage. I know more artists in Halifax that seem to be making a living in hip hop than in Vancouver or Toronto, so I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I could have moved to New York or LA, I think that would have helped– you could really blow up in a scene like that, but it wasn’t like I needed to be rich and famous. I like my life where I’m at and I am close to my fiends and family, I have the same friend I have had since high school. I was lucky the way it came and lucky it eventually turned into a full time job where I’m able to stay in Ensfield and do the same shit I have been doing for the last 10 years.
Envy: What advice of you have for up and coming rappers in Canada?
Classified: Look beyond Canada. A lot of rappers look at it as “I want to be the man of my town” and once they do that, they don’t try to get their music any further. If you are really going to go for it, you’ve got to look beyond your towns and even your country. Try to get your music out everywhere and anywhere you can and DO SHOWS! That’s one thing I always say, you’ve got to do shows and learn how to become a life performer first. The internet artists are a duma a dozen now, but once you start doing live shows and build a fan base, that’s the thing that separates you.
Envy: Best and worst thing about touring?
Classified: The best part about touring is the show part. I don’t like traveling, I don’t like flying, I don’t like long drives– that shit annoys me. The actual show, once you get out on stage and see people react and see them saying your words back to you, that’s what it’s all about. Even seeing something you’ve created bring happiness to certain people, it’s quite the feeling. It’s kind of hard to explain.
Envy: Is there any topic you won’t discuss in your music?
Classified: No, not really. I’d talk about anything personal. I don’t talk about politics very much. Someone asked me the other day to write a song about politics and I’m like “I don’t know shit about politics”. I try not to preach about things I don’t know about, I don’t follow politics enough to have a really educated opinion on it. Other than that, I’d talk about anything. The more embarrassing and funnier it is, the more people relate to it.
Envy: What made you go with a simple, non-conceptual vibe for Handshakes and Middle Fingers?
Classified: This one, I just really wanted to get down and make some really good songs. I wanted to just sit down and write good songs and now come up with some left field thing– just come up with good music, good substance, and I thin this album is the best one I’ve ever done. In the feedback I have been getting from people, they have been saying the same thing. I’m glad I was able to do something like that without coming up with some crazy concept to get people talking about it.
Envy: What impact has performing with artists like Luda, Busta, and The Game had on your career?
Classified: With Ludacris, that was the first big show I ever did and we played at the Halifax Forum, it was my first time performing in front of 300+ people. You learn more, whether you’re playing a show in from of 20 people or 2000, just being in those different positions teaches you how to perform. Whether it’s talking to the crowd or just reading the crowd to see if they are even paying attention. You learn from that stuff and just being about to play for a fan base like Busta’s or Ludacris’, half of them probably didn’t know who I was at the time. So you get a chance to play your music for them. It is a great opportunity to make new fans out of people who may not have gone to your shows.
Envy: Does mixing personal life with your career have a better impact on your fan base?
Classified: Totally. It introduces them to who you are and I want people to know who I am without having to meet me. Then they meet you and they’re like “Oh, I met this guy before. I know what he’s about, I know things in his life that he’s been through” almost like we grew up together. My opinion is that a good artist is someone who gets personal and when a fan listens you get a good sense of them like you really know them.
Envy: Your Self Explanatory albums was incredibly innovative. Who came up with the concept?
Classified: I came up with the idea and we got a pretty good response from it. Once we shot a couple of videos for it, I thought it was going to become an international thing with a million hits on Youtube. I thought it was a cool and clever idea but I don’t think it got out to the internet world as much as it could have. I definitely think it could have turned more heads and maybe in 5 years it’ll blow up and people will start talking about it. I’m still proud of the idea.
Envy: Would you ever leave Canada if it meant boosting your career?
Classified: To boost my career? Nah. I thought about it before, just packing up with my girl and kid for a year or two and go to France, just to have a change in culture. I wouldn’t do it just to elevate my career. I don’t ever think I could move to NY or LA, definitely not at this time. Maybe 10 years ago, if I was single with no kids, if I was just living the life, I might have did it but I don’t have the drive to be in NY or to get rich and famous.
Envy: Any last words?
Classified: Thanks for showing your support over the years! If you haven’t heard the new album yet, it’s in stores, go check it out of get it on iTunes.