Monthly Archives: May 2009

Classified Interview Part 3

Without further ado, here is the conclusion of the Classified interview I did for DOPEfm radio. We were talking at the venue before the concert last week.

Chase: “I’m still with Classified. We’re at the London Music Hall and we’re just in the back chilling right now, talking to Class. I want to talk about some autobiographical aspects of your album ’cause there’s a song on your new album called ‘Inspiration,’ did that really happen?

Classified: “Yeah, that’s all a true story. Yeah!”

Chase: “Let’s play that track right now and then talk about it after.”

Chase: “That’s an amazing story about how you sold a beat to a guy and he never got back to you with a final verse. You didn’t really think anything about it until you heard from his friend. And how it kinda motivated him and got his life back on track. And as we were talking about before about positives of hip hop music, you inspired that guy and probably made a difference in his life. It was cool to hear something like that ’cause you hear story rhymes on wax all the time that are, ya know, just gangster tales and that was a good-news story.”

Classified: “I think amazing things happen to all of us in life, just little weird things in your life, like that’s a cool f*cking thing. And that’s all that was. Ya know, that whole thing happened. That was a song that I started working on and kind of just lost inspiration and didn’t want to write to it so I just sold the beat to somebody else. And like you said, he bought it and I never heard from him for a while and then his friend emailed me and said he was super inspired by me and kind of helped change his life around to more of a positive direction. And then he ended up dying in a car accident and his friend just wanted me to know this. Just him telling me that story, really inspired me to tell his story but over the song that I started. So, it’s just a lot of different ways you can inspire somebody. You know the smallest thing can change somebody’s life, you know what I mean? That’s what the whole story is.”

Chase: “That’s amazing. It really is amazing. Talk about the power of hip hop. There’s positives in this that a lot of people outside of the culture don’t see. And that’s what I try to do, especially because I bring hip hop into the classroom as a teacher. The stuff I bring in is stuff that the kids aren’t familiar with ’cause they wanna listen to Soldier Boy and stuff and it’s nice to be able to, you know, I was playing your video today, telling everybody in the class, ‘I’m interviewing this guy tonight.’ I was talking about how I’ve interviewed Animal Farm and Sweatshop Union, and these guys that have positive lyrics and something to say and that’s why I’m a fan, big time, and I’m honoured just to because you always got something to say.

Classified: “Thank you, man. It’s cool. It’s funny because there’s a lot of hip hop guys I know that are teachers, you know what I mean. There’s a guy named Hotbox  from down home, he’s a producer, he’s a teacher, and he does the same thing, just what you just said. It reminded me of it. He takes music into his students just to show them other sides of it. Another guy, Sean McInerney outta First Words , outta New Brunswick, he’s teacher. And it’s weird because a lot of hip hop artists become teachers, ya know what I mean, which kind of says something. I think a lot of hip hop artists feel like we have something to say and we wanna pass along to the youth and to try to give something positive. I think that’s a cool thing.”

Chase: “I think, like, Krs-One and D-Nice were doing that kind of thing, talking actually about teaching.”

Classified: “Yeah, man, The Temple of Hip Hop.”

Chase: “Yeah, it’s wicked. I know we already talked a lot about a lot of your favourite artists and how you’ve got them on your tracks but is there anybody you’re bumping right now in your car or your MP3 player?”

Classified: “On the tour bus, we’ve just been on the tour bus for the last few weeks. But we’ve been listening to a lot of old stuff like Das EFX, Dogg Pound, The Show Soundtrack, what else were we listening to? Ah, Statik Selektah, K-os‘ new record, we had that new one he has with Nelly Furtado and Saukrates ‘I wish I knew Natalie Portman,’ that jam’s banging. Nah, anything man. It’s not like 5 years ago when I used to go buy albums every Tuesday, and really dissect the albums and listen to it. It’s kind of changed. I just really like to hear a good song here and there and then I like to make my own mix CDs. But that’s the last full album that I really liked.”

Chase: “Yeah, that seems to be the trend. ‘Cause I’m old school and I still love albums-“

Classified: “Same as me. I love to hear a full album, know what I mean. Not something like an artist who goes and gets Timberland’s beat, he gets Primo’s beat, he gets the Dre, I like to hear an album where, like a Gangstarr album ‘Moment of Truth,’ I always go back to this where it’s like your emcee and your producer and they make a full album together. It’s just them guys and they do it all together. I think it makes a better whole product. It’s not like you’re just going to try and make a bunch of singles, it a whole point to the project. I really like hearing albums like that.”

Chase: “Yeah, me too, I kind of like how you put together your album, trying almost to make it a concept album with your choose your own adventure thing.”

Classified: “Definitely. That was supposed to be more of an interlude thing. I wanted a cool way to do interludes and I just had some funny shit and wanted to do something. And then that popped in my head and I was like, ‘Yo, that’d be a cool way to take listeners throughout the album as a choose your own adventure, day in the life of Classified.’ You can kind of, ya know, if ya wanna go to the club, go to track 18, if you want to go for a bike ride, go to track 7. It was just something cool to do, and, yeah, the reception’s been great for it so far.”

Chase: “That’s pretty cool. it’s nice.”

I didn’t play this song at this point of the interview but I thought I throw it on here for those of you who might not have heard it yet since we discuss it in detail after the drop.

Chase: “So, your current single threw me for a loop a little bit because I heard it on the radio. And the first time I heard it on the radio I was like ‘Oh, what’s this? Ah…’ Ya know? Anybody Listening?”

Classified: “That was the point of it. That was the point of it. That was a beat I had for like a year and a half. And I always liked it. To me, it reminded me of some Dungeon Family, Outkast shit. I’ve always been a fan of like that vibe. I wanted to do something that was, a point, like I really had a point to why I used that beat and a lot of people don’t get it. It’s because the whole underground / commercial thing of, ya know, is he underground? is he commercial? A lot of people call that beat commercial, right?”

Chase: “Yeah, definitely.”

Classified: “Why?”

Chase: “I don’t know. Maybe ’cause of the Phil Collins sample, the hook, maybe it’s just not as gritty a beat.”

Classified: “I’m not asking this to be hypocritical. I really want to know what makes a beat commercial and what makes a beat underground. What makes a beat underground?”

Chase: “Yeah, that’s a good question, especially for Dope FM ’cause that’s all we play is underground”

Classified: “And I’m just saying as a head because I’m the biggest head in the world and I don’t have an answer for it. I mean, how do you know a beat’s underground. Is it boring and a simple one-note? Is that what people consider underground? Is commercial something that anybody can just hear and go, ‘I’m really into this, I feel this, I like this, I can sing it back.’ To me, commercial / underground is in the lyrics. And that’s the whole point of ‘Anybody Listening.’ It’s like, I’m gonna make this beat so dope that I don’t care if you listen to what I’m saying or not. You’re gonna dance and you’re gonna sing this hook back. But in the lyrics, I’m gonna make sure I bring the message and the same shit I’ve always been bringing and the same thing I’ve always been saying. But at the first of the song, I’m saying, ‘Yo, what do I gotta do to get you to pay attention?’ And that’s why I’m using this upbeat beat, that I still like, ’cause I wouldn’t use it if I didn’t like it. But I knew it was a little more commercial than anybody’s every heard from me. That was the whole point of it. I was like, I wanna take this to other people who wouldn’t normally listen to me and bring my lyrics and say my point. And I’m kind of speaking from all MCs who are like, ‘Yo we put our heart and soul into our music and is there anybody who f*cking listens to the lyrics or do they just wanna hear the hot beat and a hot chorus, know what I mean?’ The whole song’s about that. If you really listen to all the lyrics, it’s me saying, ‘Yo, and I feel pretty fortunate, even though I never made a fortune yet.’ But a lot of these cats try to make it in rap don’t get nothing back, no feedback their whole life.’ Like I’m saying, people put their heart and soul into this and unless you got some hooky, catchy shit, a lot of people don’t listen to that. And that’s the whole point of ‘Anybody Listening’ but a lot of people don’t get that.

Chase: “That’s awesome, ’cause I didn’t get that either.”

Classified: “And I probably should’ve came out and said that stuff but a lot of people heard it, and even some of my boys heard it when I first came out and they were like, ‘Man, that’s a little different for you man. Like you sure you wanna go with this?’ And I’m like, ‘Yo!’ And the other side of it is, that that was the hardest song to make on the whole album. I never rapped that fast before in my life. The production on that song, like just the instruments I had brought in and tried. Like I spent weeks on that song, like trying different things and there was so much different production. It’s broke down.

We had Saukrates come in and try some stuff. So, ya know what I mean, for someone to go, ‘Oh, Class is just making a commercial track, trying to make the easy, catchy.’ This was the hardest f*cking song to make on the album. Ya know what I mean? I’m proud of that song. I think that song took me to a new audience and I said what I wanted to say. I really believe, and even in the lyric in that song, I think I say, ‘The beat bangs but still I speak with substance that will fill my needs.’ And that’s just saying, ‘Yeah I’m gonna make something banging and people might feel this but I’m still gonna bring out lyrics. I’m not just gonna say ‘Shake your ass to the fast beat.’ Ya know, I’m gonna bring some lyrics to it.”

Chase: “That’s awesome, ’cause when I first heard that song I thought it was more of a take on…you’re huge in Canada, ya know, but you’re not huge to the rest of the world.”

Classified: “And that’s how the other part of this works. This is our deal with Sony. It’s gonna be our first taste of hitting outside of Canada. So, I also wanted to put it out for that reason. Yo, is anybody listening? Are you ready to pay attention to some Canadian shit or what? So, it’s working a lot of different ways and that’s really why I made it the first single.”

Chase: “That’s awesome ’cause we really gotta support our Canadian talent, ’cause we’ve got tons. Just like listening to your album, even you’ve got some Maritime cats on there like Joel Plasket. So we have to support this and there was a time in the 90’s when I bought everything that was Canadian, ya know, even if it was little bit wack.”

Classified: (laughs) “Yeah I was the same guy. I’d buy any Halifax release that came out. Local shit, I’d buy it and listen to it like it was the new Death Row or the new Gangstarr or Redman album. I really followed that shit like religion man.”

Chase: “Definitely. Definitely. Well, man, it’s been an honour and I’m so looking forward to the show tonight and thanks for coming on DOPEfm

Classified: “I appreciate it, man. Thanks for having me. It’s been good times.”

Chase: “Alright. We gotta close with a song. What song should we close with?”

Classified: “I wanna hear the intro off my album, Self Explanatory. If you buy the album this is the first thing you’re gonna hear. So if you like this, go check out the rest of the record.”

Chase: “Alright, thanks a lot Classified. It’s been an honour.”

Classified: “Thanks again.’

Chase: “Peace!”

Classified Interview Part 2

This is the second installment of the interview I did with hip hop artist Classified. Click here if you missed Part 1.

This entire interview is available as a podcast from the DOPEfm radio show on 93.3 CFMU Hamilton. Please check it out and subscribe to the podcast. It’s free and one of the best hip-hop mix shows out there.

Without further ado, here is part two of the interview.

Chase: “Alright, we’re back with Classified. Class, how ya doing man?”

Classified: “Good man. We’re just out here chilling at sound check. The band’s setting up the drums and the congas and all the instruments for the show tonight. So, we’re just chilling out doing the interview.”

Chase: “Cool, cool. One of your lyrics you’re talking about weed and you talk about it a little bit-“

Classified: “A lot.”

Chase: “A lot. But, ya always seem to…like…it’s almost a cliche to talk about weed in hip hop, but the way you do it, you’re not really glorifying it. Like one of your lyrics you actually say, ‘Made the mistake of trying it / and I won’t quit and every time I blaze I feel guilty’ so it makes me wonder why you keep putting those references in. Don’t you think maybe you might be influencing some kids to actually try it?”

Classified: “Um, yeah, probably, you know what I mean? I’m not, I think a lot of artists say this, but I don’t make music to raise children. I make music to express myself, to say where I’m coming from. But like you said, I usually don’t go ‘weed, weed, I love it, that’s all I’m gonna do, I love it, it’s the best thing in the world, it makes me so happy, nothing’s better in the world to me.’ I don’t talk about it that way. I say, ‘Yo, I smoke it.’ And yeah, I do like it. I probably smoke it too much and I kind of wish, like I said, I wish I didn’t start. I’m so used to it now, it’s almost part of my lifestyle. Ya know what I mean, I’m used to it. I like it. If someone give me a joint, I’m like, ‘Yo let me smoke this and get high,’ know what I mean. But, if I never had that in my life and I never, ya know, was used to that, or just ran across it, I probably wouldn’t. It definitely makes me more lazy.  Like,.I’m starting to see the effects of it now, I think more now, where before it’s be like I just smoke and do some music. But now, it’s, like I can’t write when I’m high. I never write no lyrics when I’m high because I talk so much bullshit when I’m high. But, ya know, when I’m making beats, I’ll smoke something. Ya know, it has it’s good and it’s bad. That’s what I try to put in my lyrics, you know the positive and the negative sides.”

Chase: “Nice! Ya ’cause I was wondering too because it seems to me that you really put a lot of yourself into your songs and I want to talk to you about the autobiographical aspects of your lyrics. But you did mention that you didn’t even smoke, like, all through high school and everything. So I was wondering, ’cause a lot of people who manage to go that far, ya know, don’t ever pick up a bad habit such as that.”

Classified: “Right. Yeah, I never smoked weed at all in high school. I never even drank. Liquor, I hated the taste. I still don’t like the taste of liquor now. I’ll drink here and there, know what I mean. But, yeah, weed it never did nothing for me. I was a kid that was into sports. I skateboarded. Once I started to get into music. Ya know what I mean, in Grade 10, 11, 12, I wasn’t that kid that was going out, drunk at the parties all the time. It didn’t appeal to me. So I stayed home, made my music, was at my studio, wrote, made beats, and that’s what I liked doing, so it was cool. But, ya know, I don’t know why but when I was like 20, 21, my and my crew just started smoking weed. I don’t even know why. Like, I got the same friends since like Grade 3. So like if one of us in the crew starts smoking and is around, we gonna start smoking and stuff. And I think with just hip hop, not even hip hop but just music in general, like a lot of people in the music scene smoke weed. Whether it’s engineers or whatever so it’s around a lot. And yeah, it’s just something that became a lifestyle of mine, I guess.”

Chase: “Alright, thanks for the knowledge there. I want to drop another track right now, ‘Fall From Paradise’ because there’s a lyric in there I want to talk about as soon as the song’s over. Alright, you want to throw to that song?”

Classified: “Let’s do it. This Classified. The track’s called ‘Fall from Paradise’ off my record ‘Hitch Hiking Music.’ Check it out.”

Chase: “Alright, we’re back. Lucky enough to be on location with Classified here in London, Ontario. Dope FM’s first interview on location. And, ah, one of the lyrics in that song you say, “I love hip hop ’cause it made me who I am, it gave me confidence and it made a honest man.” I think a lot of people outside of hip hop culture wouldn’t understand that.”

Classified: “I think the media, just the way that a lot of people who aren’t involved in hip hop culture, they have their own perception. They see, ya know, the rap videos on TV and they think that’s what hip hop is. To me, that’s not what hip hop is. Ya know, I can definitely be a part of it but I think there’s a whole other side of it that people don’t understand. You know, for me, what I get out of hip hop is being honest, ya know what I mean, being who you are and saying ‘F*ck everybody else’ if they don’t like who I am. If I am who I am, and I believe what I’m doing is right, ya know what I mean, forget everybody else. And I think that’s what hip hop always was. It was the underdog. It was the outsider that was always pointed at and had something to prove. But ya know, with that lyric, ya know when I was a kid, like any kid, 15, ya know, teenagers are self conscious. We don’t have a lot of confidence and stuff. And hip hop just gave me that vibe. When I had my music, it just, like I said, ‘F*ck everything else man.’ Let me do me, don’t worry about it, and it almost just made me stop worrying about what other people thought about me and what I was doing, like the line says. You know, I’m proud of myself and I just say forget it. You got a problem with me, you don’t like what I do, or how I dress, or whatever, I don’t care.”

Chase: “See that’s the thing. ‘Cause I think, I’m a teacher, and it always seems that I’m battling the perception that hip hop is evil, ya know. If I try to bring it in the classroom, people always think it’s bad. And there’s a lot of positives to hip hop. Like, I’m sure that lyric is true. I’m sure that it has motivated you, it’s turned your life around, like you’ve pretty much made a career and are respected in the Canadian music industry. And hopefully it will go a little bit further than that.”

Classified: “You know, we’re working on some stuff right now. We’re going to Australia for the first time. Some international stuff is happening. But yeah man, I think it’s just what people get out of hip hop. It always seems like they want to focus on the negative side of it. But, like you said, there’s so many positive things about it. I don’t think anything’s ever brought cultures together, like different races together like hip hop music has. I’ll hold tight to that statement anytime. Like another line I said in a song was “Hip hop, it never taught me shoot a gun, or go and buy drugs. It taught me how to keep it real and don’t be scared of who I was.” And when I wrote that lyric, I loved that line. It’s such a basic line but to me that really sums up what people say about hip hop and to me what I really feel, like, it does.”

Chase: “Yeah, definitely. That was off of ‘No Mistakes.’ I wanted to highlight that after we dropped that track so I missed that ’cause I definitely focused on that line too. Speaking about hip hop culture in Canada, your new album, the first time I listened to it, I was like, Woah, he has everybody on there. And then I listened to it again and I realized it wasn’t all on one track. But you’ve got Moka Only on there, you’ve got DL Incognito, Choclair, Buck 65, Maestro, D-sisive, Saukrates, Shad.”

Classified: “Yeah, these are guys that, you know what I mean, when I got this deal with Sony, I didn’t want to go out an get the hottest artists of the time and try to get them to get the Flo Ridas or whoever you just hear on the radio. I wanted to get people that I’ve been fans of or guys that I just crossed paths with and had a history with. So, ya know, I wanted to get Canadian guys, that’s what I listen to. I’m a big fan of a lot of Canadian hip hop. So, it’s easy for me to call up Maestro and say, “Yo, I got this beat, wanna jump on it?’ and hit up Choclair. And these guys are all mad, cool guys. Ya know, I used to open up for Choclair back in 2000. I remember he’d come down to the east and I’d always opened up his tours and stuff like that. We have a little bit of history, same with Maestro. So, yeah, man, I’m fans of all these guys. And I wanted to make sure that I got to work with who I wanted to work with.”

Chase: “Nice, yeah, cause Moka Only destroys that verse, man.”

Classified: “He’s dope man, Moka’s had a lot of dope music for a long time. I remember listening to him in like ’95-96 and a lot of people don’t know he’s been around that long. But check him out man. Dude’s got like 36 albums.”

Chase: “Yeah, it’s crazy. Ubiquitous, that line in there. And Shad. Shad’s making a lot of noise right now, especially where we’re at right now, in the London area.”

Classified: “Yeah, man, Shad’s the man. Me and Shad hooked up on the ‘While You Were Sleeping Tour.’ I did a tour last January and I actually took him on the road with us. I think he’s an amazing artist, amazing lyricist, but above all that, just a cool f*cking dude. He can chill. He didn’t know any of us on the tour, he got on the tour and hung out and got along with us great. We never had no problems. Yeah, so he’s been doing it. He’s making some wicked noise. I know he’s doing the Warped Tour down in the States, doing like 50 dates down there. So, yeah, I’m a fan. That’s the whole ‘Loonie’ track where I had Shad, D-sisive, DL, and I really wanted to get some of those newer guys that a lot of people might not know yet but have been doing their thing and making great music.”

Chase: “Alright, maybe we should drop that track on that note. This is ‘Loonie’ off of the new album from Classified ‘Self Explanatory.’ And it is self explanatory. It’s just good Canadian hip hop. It’s a good album. It’s not heavy with guest appearances, like you said. It just, it flows nice. I’m really feeling it. So here it is, this is ‘Loonie’ and we’ll be back with more Classified after this. Stay tuned. Chase March, Dope FM radio.”

Enjoy! See you tomorrow for part 3 of the Classified interview I did for Dope FM radio. Stay tuned to the podcast and the blog. Thanks!
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Classified Interview

Last week I had the honour and privilege of interviewing one of Canada’s finest MCs, Classified. This was the first on-location interview I ever did for Dope FM. It is available as a podcast so please go download it for free and enjoy the vibe.

I thought it would also be a good idea to put up a transcript of it here as well. I’ve embedded some of their videos to the songs we played on the podcast, as well as a few that we didn’t play. I hope you enjoy this interview.

Chase: “Alright everybody, this is Chase March, live on location in London at the Classified show, and I’m just honoured and privileged to be sitting in front of Classified. How ya doing?”

Classified: “I’m doing good, man, how ’bout you?”

Chase: “I’m doing great. I must say I’ve been a fan of yours for years. I’ve got your last four albums. Don’t got you new one yet. I got a burned copy so I definitely need to get it tonight, supporting the artists for sure. So it’s great to see. You’re on a tour right now? What cities are you hitting up next and how long is this tour?”

Classified: “We hitting everywhere. We doing all Canada right now. The whole tour is gonna be just over 4 1/2 weeks long. We start out west in Vancouver, going right back to Halifax. Hitting every major city and a lot of small towns, stuff like that too. So, basically playing wherever we can. Doing like 30 dates.”

Chase: “Nice, nice. I remember I was first introduced to you on the Internet ’cause I was trying to get a music career popping back in the late ’90s and I saw your name floating around a bit, but I didn’t actually see you til the “Unexpected” video. That video was really, really nice. And that was the first taste I got of Class, right about there.”

Classified: “That was actually the first video of mine that got any real play on Much Music, so that was a lot of people’s introduction to me and my music. So that was cool.”

Chase: “I’d like to show that video for my blog audience now. This is ‘Unexpected’ by Classified off the album ‘Trial and Error.’ We’ll be right back with more Classified on location at his concert.”

Chase: “That’s a great video and a lot of people’s first taste of Classified. After that you had two other animated videos that I’ve seen. So I’m just wondering, who does the animation for your videos? How did that come about that you’ve got so many animated ones?”

Classified: “The first one was done by a guy named Matt Strickland, out of Newfoundland. He did the “Unexpected” and “The Maritimes” one. And then we just did one for a track called “Trouble” off my new record and I’m not sure I remember this guy’s name. I don’t even know the guy’s name. He’s a guy from California that we just kind of hired to do a job. He’s a freelance guy that just kind of does it, ya know what I mean? He showed us some examples of his work. So, yeah, he did the thing up. But you know, animated video is just another way to tell a story, know what I mean? Ya know, to be completely real, you can do animated videos cheaper than to shoot a film video too. So, you know, if you come up with a creative way to do it, you get someone to illustrate it out, ya know, it brings the song out.”

Chase: “Nice, nice. Yeah, your videos, it’s nice that you’ve got quite a lot of them. One of my favourites videos though is “Hard to Be Hip Hop.”

Classified: “That’s my favourite video too.”

Chase: “What was it like working with a legend in Maestro Fresh Wes, man?”

Classified: “Maestro’s the man. I first met Maestro back in 2003 and he just called me up and said he was a fan of my music. So it was a surprise. I’ve been a fan of Maestro since Backbone, Drop the Needle, Conducting Thangs, all that, so. You know, when you get in the studio with Maestro, he’s an energetic dude. He acts like it’s the first time he’s in the studio. He’s got an energy. You can just tell that he loves making music. So for me that’s great. When I get energy like that, working with me in the studio, that makes me excited and energetic. So, I work with him a lot. We’ve done probably 8 or 9 tracks together, ya know, whether it’s him rhyming on one of mine or me producing for him and stuff. That’s one of my heroes of Canadian hip hop, and that’s my dude. I talk to him, like, once a month.”

Chase: “Nice, nice. Yeah, the one thing I really like about that video is that it’s kind of hard to tell what’s going on, like you’re still in a fancy car and then you got your name spelled huge beside you, and at one point the DJ’s cutting “No, this is not an illusion” And then you kind of show us how the whole video has been an illusion up to that point.”

Classified: “Yeah, man. That was Harv. Harv was the director. he’s done 3 or 4 videos for me now. He did “No Mistakes,” he did “Find Out,” he did “Hard to be Hip Hop,” and he did my new one “Anybody Listening” but he’s always got cool ideas, man. And he showed me the idea. He said, I wanna make it look like you’re in a car and I’m gonna pan out and it’s just gonna be little dinkies. I didn’t honestly get what he meant when he first was telling me about it but when he showed me some examples, ya know what I mean, I was blown away. And the way he edited, put it together, and just kind of made it all come to life in the video, like you said with the “no this is not an illusion” and then it breaks out to show you it is all an illusion. Ya know, these videos can trick you a little bit. Ya know, don’t believe the hype. But, yeah, that was one of my favourite videos so I’m glad you’re feeling it.”

Chase: “I’ve been a fan for years so it’s nice to actually be interviewing you right now.

Classified: “Appreciate it”

Chase: “Yeah, I was just wondering about production because, ya know, Diamond D used to say he was the best producer on the mic, but I know you produce most of your stuff, and I’m really feeling it, so I think that title should be handed over to Classified.”

Classified: “Oh shit, I’ll take it. I’ll take it! Diamond D’s the man though. I remember when he said that line. I remember though. What track was that off of? House of Pain, was it? When he said “the best producer on the mic.” No, actually, it was the Fugees, The Score track, I think. Nah but production’s my thing, man. I’ve been making beats a long time and the rhyme thing, you know, I like doing both. ya know, the people appreciate both, that’s great.”

Chase: “Nice, so did you start rhyming and then just need an outlet for producing, or did you produce first?”

Classified: “Nah, nah, I started rhyming and needed something to rhyme on. So I started making my tape deck beats using a tape deck like this thing right here, ya know, looping it up. Then I bought my first drum machine, bought my first sampler, and kind of kept building up like that.”

Chase: “Yeah, I’m kind of old school right here because Class and I are sitting right in front of my old, huge, tape deck thing.”

Classified: “This is what I used to record on. So when I first saw you plugging into this, I came on over looking and I’m like, yeah man. That’s when I started I used to use this shit.”

Chase: “Yeah, it works. It works good. I want to talk to you about some of your lyrics, like one of your lyrics you say, “my fourth album is the first record I really liked,” so what’s the truth behind that?”

Classified: “The truth is if I go back and listen to my music now, ya know what I mean, I know I was a young kid. I started putting my records out like when I was 15, 16 years old. I was a kid who just loved making hip hop music. I really didn’t know much about it. I didn’t have that much skill, ya know what I mean, I think I was wack, I’ll be the first one to say it, know what I mean? But that’s all kind of where I came from and I grew from that and learned from that. But yeah, my first four albums, I wrote my song, I put them out, and I was like, yeah, they’re alright but I felt like there was a lot of work that had to be done and I had a lot of ways to go and by the time Information, Unpredictable, around that time, that’s when I felt like I was starting to get my groove and starting to really realize what I was doing. So I really feel that ‘my fourth album’s the first record I really liked’, man. That’s real.”

Chase: “Nice. Kind of just like learning as you’re going, paying your dues.”

Classified: “And that’s what is was. I mean, a lot of people do the same thing, but they don’t put it out there. They record the songs and nah, it’s gotta be better and better. I was just that kid, ‘yo I got ten songs, let me burn it, put it on a cassette, make up a hundred copies, and put it out and see if people like it.”

Chase: “Nice, I think we gotta drop a track right now. What’s one of your favourite, I know this is probably a hard question since you’ve put out so many albums, what’s one of your favourite joints that you’ve done?”

Classified. “Um, ‘This is For” is one of my favourite tracks, ‘Find Out,’ ‘No Mistakes.”

Chase: “Oh, ‘No Mistakes!’ I love ‘No Mistakes.’ Okay.”

Classified: “It depends how I feel, know what I mean? If I’m feeling energetic and rowdy and just want to move, know what I mean, I wanna hear one my hyper tracks. But if I’m feeling like I want to vibe out and listen to something, I put on something with more of a message and more of a vibe to it. So, it depends on the day. Changes with the days.”

Chase: “Cool, cool. Alright, that being said. I think right now we’re gonna drop ‘No Mistakes.’ I believe this is off of Boy-Cott-In the Industry. Alright, so we’ll be right back with more Classified. Dope FM Radio.”

Stay tuned tomorrow for part 2 of the interview I did with Classified for Dope FM Radio. The interview is available as a podcast as well. Head on over to the Dope FM page and be sure to subscribe to this excellent podcast. We bring you the best in underground hip hop each and every week.

Download this interview for free
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Teaching Tip Tuesday – Procedures

Teachers need to have procedures in place for every single routine in the classroom. These procedures need to be communicated to the students. But they do not need to be written down anywhere.

A procedure, quite simply, is a series of steps that should be followed in order to do something effectively, efficiently, and safely in the classroom.

It is important to establish routines starting on the very first day of school. Teach your students the way you would like them to do certain things such as lining up, handing in work, getting lunches from their lockers, asking to go the washroom, etc.

There are probably dozens and dozens of routines involved in a successfully managed classroom. But these are not hard to establish at all. For instance, my students know that they are to come in to the classroom every morning and start working on their writing assignment, They know that they have until 9:30 to complete the task or they will have to stay in at recess or after school. This makes them accountable for using their time to accomplish a task. Students who finish work early also know what they are supposed to do. This is because I have taught my students what is expected of them.

My students know when it is okay to sharpen a pencil or ask to go to the washroom. I have taught them that they should not be doing these things when I am at the front of the room delivering a lesson.

I know that I am a creature of habit. I often do things the same way and take comfort in the fact that I know what to do and how to do it. A lot of people feel the same way. Students need routine just for this reason. Of course, this doesn’t mean that every thing in my class is perfect and strictly ordered. It just means we have a certain way of doing things and that is expected we all follow these procedures..

For example, I teach math at the same time every day. We start out every lesson with a timed five-minute computational drill. The students then pass their papers and mark each other’s work as I call out the answer. We graph the results in a notebook and then clear off our desks so we are ready for the lesson. This entire routine takes less than ten minutes because everyone knows what is expected.

I have procedures in place for taking attendance, handing out textbooks, handing in work, lining up, cleaning up, getting drinks, coming in from recess, snack times, going to the library, and probably a dozen other things I can’t think of right now.

You may have different routines than I do. You may have more routines or you might have less. It doesn’t really matter. Each teacher is different. You need to find what works for you.

Here is how to establish routines,

1) Demonstrate the behaviour you want achieved and the steps involved.
2) Practise it with the students
3) Praise them when they do it correctly
4) Coach them and encourage them to follow the routines AND
5) Don’t let students slide. Make sure that they follow them all the time.

I hope that you are finding this series useful. Click on the label on the sidebar to read more of my Teaching Tip Tuesday series. If you would like to contribute by writing a guest post, please send me an email or write a comment below. Thanks.

The Human Body is Fragile

I know that I don’t often think about the limits of my body. I take it for granted that I am young, agile, and athletic. I run and jump and play on a regular basis. I still skateboard too. Some people might think I am just a big kid. In fact, I’ve heard comments to this effect time and time again.

I really don’t see a problem with being active and playing. It doesn’t matter that I am thirty-something. You are only as old as you feel, right? That’s what I believe anyway.

I look after myself too. I’m not just a careless daredevil. I stretch before I exercise. I go for 5-kilometer runs at least 3 days a week. I do cool down walks and don’t try to overexert myself. I know my pace. I know what skateboard tricks I can pull off and what is beyond my ability.

So last week when we had track and field day at my school, I knew that I could still do the events. I wasn’t being stupid at all or trying to show off. I was actually demonstrating the proper techniques and trying to coach the students. I was doing everything right and I still managed to hurt myself. I can’t believe it. If I was being stupid, I could understand being in this much pain and still recovering, but I wasn’t. It’s crazy.

I hurt myself Thursday morning and spent the day in waiting rooms. My girlfriend typed up a blog entry for me that day because I was in too much pain to sit at the computer.

I can’t believe how much this still hurts. My neck and upper back are really, really stiff and it hurts to lie down or move in certain ways. This really sucks. But, at least I can sit here for a little while and continue the story.

It starts Friday morning with the phone ringing. It was the doctor. She told me that she got the x-ray results and wanted me to go to the emergency room. I was really scared when I heard this. She wanted me to get a CT scan and told me to come by the office to get the report on the way to the hospital.

It was hard to drive since I couldn’t turn my neck to check blind spots but I jumped in the car and took it easy as I drove to the hospital. When I got there, they put me in a cervical collar and made me lie down on a board. It was very uncomfortable.

I had to wait on that board for most of the day. I had a CT scan and nervously awaited the results. I didn’t think it was going to be anything serious since I had been walking around the day before and they sent me home after the x-ray but it was still really scary.

So I got the results. Apparently there was a slight narrowing between C4 and 5 but there were no fractures. That was good news. But after spending all day in a collar and lying down on a board, it was strange that they suddenly took me off the board, removed the collar, and said that I could go home.

I don’t really know what to do. I am stiff and sore and it hurts to move in certain ways. I’m sure that if I just take it easy, I will recover from this. Maybe I just strained my muscles and bruised them. It should get better with time.

It just goes to remind us that the human body is fragile. We need to be careful what we do, especially as we get older. But I’m not willing to alter my active and athletic life.

I know that I’m not as fast as I used to. I can feel myself getting older but I am still capable of being athletic, using my body, and enjoying myself. The day I can’t do that is the day that I truly am old.

Be Careful What You Wish For

Today was track and field day at my school. The grade 7 and 8 students were running events. Most of these students had no idea how to do the event which they were running.

I used to do track back in the day. So I took it upon myself to instruct the students on the proper way of doing these events. Some might think I’m just a big kid, but I like to have fun at school. The kids also like to see teachers active and involved. So, I actually did the events.

High jump was my sport in middle school. That was umpteen years ago. Silly me thought I could easily get back into the swing of my favourite track event. My first attempt was horrible. I hit the bar. But, I tried it again. I managed to get some successful jumps and I instructed the students on the proper technique.

On my 7th jump, approximately, I raised the bar to 5 feet. I cleared the bar with ease and landed on my back as you are supposed to. This is when I discovered that the mat wasn’t regulation. I only landed half on the mat.

I’m not exactly sure what happened, but I knew something was wrong almost immediately. I tried to walk it off, but I could not ignore the pain in my shoulders and neck.

I had to leave the school to go to a clinic and get it checked out. I actually had x-rays done. I should get the results back tomorrow.

Right now I’m still in a lot of pain. I think I got whiplash because my head didn’t land properly on the mat. The funny thing about all of this is that I had expressed a desire to take tomorrow off. I have a lot of sick days owed to me that I will never use. Things have been a little frustrating the past week or so I was planning on taking tomorrow off anyway.

Well the joke’s on me. I now have tomorrow off. But I will be in pain recovering from this injury and won’t enjoy my day. I guess it’s an example of be careful what you wish for.

Tom Green is Hilarious

Tom Green can be hit and miss when it comes to comedy sketches. But when he hits, he really hits. This skit is one of my favourites.

I know that I sure can use a laugh in the middle of this week. I know it’s a short week due to the holiday, but I don’t know why it has felt so loooong!

Hope you enjoy this. (the clip contains explicit language)

Teaching Tip Tuesday – Rules to Live By

Children do not learn important social skills, morals, or values unless they are taught them. These basic life skills and attitudes need to be transmitted to children in some way.

When I first became a teacher, I didn’t think that it was part of my job to teach these things. However, I quickly realized that children need these skills just as much, if not more, than the curriculum I deliver. To that end, I have incorporated different character education resources into my teaching.  I have used and modified the Tribes program to great success.

Today I would like to recommend another book. The Essential 55, The: An Award-Winning Educator’s Rules for Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child by Ron Clark.

Last week, I discussed the importance of classroom rules and how they should be positively worded and succinct so that the students can memorize them and live up to the expectations that are set for the classroom. So when I first found this book that lists 55 rules for kids to follow, I almost wrote it off before even looking at it. I’m glad that I didn’t.

Ron Clark does a good job of listing 55 social skills and the reasons why he believes that they are absolutely essential for our students to live up to. Most of these rules seem to be common sense and a lot of our students already do these things. However, I still think it is useful for students to hear these rules and reflect on them.

I give each student in my class a “Rules to Live By” notebook at the start of the school year. Every morning I write 2 or 3 of these rules on the board for the students to copy down. We draw a picture to go with each rule or I have students come to the front of the classroom to act out the rule. This activity doesn’t take up a lot of time in the day. The best thing about it is that it teaches character education along with note-taking and drama skills.

There were only a few rules in this book that I felt like I needed to change or adapt to fit my classroom atmosphere. Here are the first 6 rules (slightly adapted for my classroom)

Rule 1 – We will address people by their names.

This eliminates name-calling and the tendency that some kids have to address me as “Teacher,” which I find really annoying.

Rule 2 – Make eye contact. When someone is speaking, keep your eyes on him or her at all times. If someone makes a comment, turn and face that person.

Rule 3 – If someone wins or does something well, we congratulate that person. Claps should be at least 3 seconds long using the full part of both hands.

This fits perfectly well with our motto “Cheer Each Other.”

Rule 4 – We respect other students’ comments, opinions, and ideas. When possible, make statements like, “I agree with John, and I also feel that …” or “I disagree with Sara. She made a good point, but I feel that…” or “I think Victor made an excellent observation, and it made me realize…” We never laugh or make fun of someone’s comments.

Rule 5 – If you win or do well, do not brag. If you lose, do not show anger. Instead say something like, “Good game,” or don’t say anything at all.

Rule 6 – If you are asked a question in conversation, you should ask a question in return. If someone asks, “Did you have a nice weekend?” you should answer the question and then ask a question in return, “Yes, I had a great time. My family and I went hunting. What about you? Did you have a nice weekend?”

So in my classroom, we have four simple and succinct expectations, three mottos, and 55 Rules to Live By. I allow my students opportunities to practise these skills and I praise them when they do so. I find that this system really works. Try it out.

Classified isn’t Top Secret Anymore

Last night I went to the Classified concert in London, Ontario. I had a chance to sit down with the rapper before the concert and interview him for the first ever, on location interview for DOPEfm.

The turnout for the show was amazing. There had to be over 300 people there.

The show was amazing from start to finish. DJ IV spun all night long for all of the opening acts and for the main attraction. He even spun his own set in the middle of the show. The crowd was really hyped for it.

Classified had a full band and a DJ on stage with him. He played with the arrangements of his songs to great effect. He played hits from his last four albums.

To finish off the show, he hit us with his current single “Anybody Listening” and then quickly followed that up with his tribute “Oh…Canada.” He said that he always finishes off his concerts with that song.

But he must have lied

because he asked his band if they were up for one more song and then they played “Fall From Paradise”

After that song, the house lights came on and his band started jamming. It was a pretty cool vibe.

On my way home, my girlfriend and I were stopped by a RIDE program. The police stop all the cars to check if anyone has been drinking and driving.

The officer asked where I was coming from and I told him “The Classified concert.”

He looked at me really suspiciously. I think he thought I was trying to be funny with him, like I was using classified to mean “top secret.” I just assumed he’d know who Classified was. But, it was clear he didn’t. So I added, “the rapper.”

The officer still didn’t seem to get it. He shone his flashlight in the back seat. But all was good and we were soon on our way back home.

I must say that was the weirdest RIDE program stop I’ve ever been through.

I had an amazing time interviewing Classified and watching him perform.

Read the transcript of the Classified Interview and download the podcast here.
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It’s All Doom and Gloom

Dear Mr. Media,

Whoever you are, can you please stop with all the doom and gloom reporting? I am sick and tired of turning on the television to discover the latest thing that threatens my life.

First it was Killer Bees, then it was Mad Cow Disease. That was quickly followed by West Nile Virus, then it was Listeria, and now Swine Flu.

Enough already! None of the other ones got me. And I refuse to be taken out by a tiny mosquito or a piece of pork.

I don’t think you need to try and scare the public all the time. Why not report on some good news stories more often? Those stories seem to be rare but what seems to be even rarer is anyone being afflicted by the above conditions. I don’t know anyone personally who has been. So please stop with all the doom and gloom.

Television news is like junk food for the brain. And I’m going on a diet.

Yours truly,

Chase March