Classified Releases 15th Album, Talks Raekwon Collaboration & Production Skills
There are two things Classified fancies: weed and live instrumentation. The Canadian-based rapper and producer, who has a self-described “addictive personality,” makes no apologies for smoking marijuana — a practice he regularly raps about on his albums. His 15th self-titled LP, which debuts today, features one track that touches on the greenery, but it goes deeper than that.
Yes, Classified celebrates the high life on ‘That’s What I Do’ with lines like, “I usually leave the party by two / Go get high hit the drive-thru… I bring the weed to the party ’cause I’m courteous / I started burnin’ it ’cause I was curious,” yet he explains his history with hip-hop and influences in the genre too.
“I’ve talked so many times like, ‘I smoke weed,’ whatever the f— I do, ‘I’m Canadian,’ on that one I wanted to talk about why I love hip-hop, why I got into weed, why I’m influenced by people like Snoop Dogg and Tony Hawk as a skater kid,” he tells TheDrop.fm. “So more of this is why I do what I do, than this is what I do.”
Since releasing his first album, ‘Time’s Up, Kid,’ in 1995, the 35-year-old has made massive moves. He’s graduated to the big leagues considering he once sold cassette tapes of his music in school. A record deal with labels like Sony and Universal Canada — his current label home — has given the rapper the opportunity to share his lyrics with the masses.
On his ‘Classified’ album, loyal fans will notice the content shows his maturation. “Lyrically, just growing more as a person, writing about different stuff,” he shares. “I’m a father now so I got two little girls so just coming from that perspective, which is definitely different.”
Then there’s his production skills. Classified crafts the beats for all 13 tracks featured on the project — a feat that has challenged him to incorporate live horns and strings into his work. “On the musical tip, where I produce, my own stuff, I’ve always been a drum machine-sample guy,” he explains. “This time I did a lot more live instrumentation. I brought in string players and horn players. Now just having more knowledge of what I can do in the studio, where before it was like make a beat, write a rap, there’s a song. Now it’s creating an entire song, changing the beat after four bars. Just more experimentation.”
Rap enthusiasts will be pleased to find a hip-hop veteran on Classified’s effort — Raekwon shows up on the track ‘I Only Say It Cause It’s True,’ alongside D-12’s Kuniva. So how did a Canadian emcee join forces with the likes of those two?
“I met Raekwon at this thing called King of the Dot in Toronto, it’s kinda like a battle rap league, really popular in Canada. He was at that,” Classified reveals. “I was a big Wu-Tang Clan fan growing up. He knew my music, which surprised me, said he checked out my show. So we just reconnected with his manager a few months later. I let him know there was a beat I’d like him to jump on. He liked the beat. That was pretty much that.
As far as Kuniva, we toured with D-12 and Joe Budden for like a month, a couple years ago. I produced a track for him before. So we just talked back and forth. He was all about it.”
With more records to his name than many artists can say they’ve been in the game, Classified’s drive is apparent; his passion for his work is clear. There’s just one thing he wants listeners to get from this album: “Enjoyment,” he says.
Watch Classified’s ‘Inner Ninja’ Video