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.”