Classified has become a household name in Canadian hip-hop conversation since the year 2009, when his debut major label album Self Explanatory captured the attention of listeners across the country as well as some high ranking chart positions. Prior to his widespread success, I had always known Classified as a fairly creative artist with excellent skills in wordplay. His most recent self-titled release only helps reinforce that belief in my head, with the man offering up thirteen tracks filled with very articulate verse and some special guest appearances.
After a quick intro, we witness Classified do something very interesting with album opener “3 Foot Tall”. The beat is built around a sample of a song from the most recent Muppet movie. I couldn’t point to another rapper out there who has gotten creative with children’s film content in this sort of way. “That’s What I Do” is a self-examination track with Classified reflecting on where fame has brought him, as well as how he feels about his stock as an artist now. Typical rap fare if you ask me, but the groovy beat makes up for a large part of that. “Inner Ninja” features the album’s first guest spot, with Classified bringing fellow Maritime musician David Myles on board to sing the song’s hook. Dancy and upbeat in nature, the song has also been nominated for a Juno award in this year’s “Rap Recording of the Year” category.
More album highlights come in the form of tracks such as “Anything Goes” featuring more guest talent from Saukrates and Skratch Bastid, and “Growing Pains” in which Classified takes on the heavy topic of fatherhood overtop of a nice, laid-back, vibraphone and percussion groove. “Hi-Dea’s” classes things up a bit with some piano and string section work, discussing some of Classified’s thoughts and musings while under the influence (I’ll write a song about what I love and hate/Like I love the munchies/But I hate the stomach ache/I love getting drunk/But hate it the next morning/Hate the soundcheck/But always loving a performance). It also opts for a humorous electro bridge just past the midway point. The album’s closer, “Look Up [Signs]”, sees both Kardinal Offishal and Madchild step up alongside Classified in an energetic finale to deliver some very clever rhymes regarding astrology (Sergeant of the sagittarius and pisces/Looking to the stars, knowing that I’m blessed nicely).
At the end of the day, Classified doesn’t seem to venture out into any sort of new lyrical territory with regards to subject matter. However, his way with words, beat selection, and well-placed guest spots make this one another solid addition to his canon of albums – and well worth a listen.