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We Got Classified to Confront the Criticisms of His Biggest Fan

Awkward truths from one Canadian rap nerd to their Canadian rap hero.

All Photos courtesy of Jess Baumung

Classified was a gateway into Canadian hip-hop for many twenty-something northerners, but it took a while before we confidently walked through that door. It was the mid-2000s and we were still utterly Drakeless. We gathered in high schools to listen to Cool American Rappers like Kanye, while wearing Cool American Rap fashions like Kanye hater blocker glasses. We were blind, literally (because of those glasses) and metaphorically to our own musical landscape. Canadians weren’t cool, we thought. Not like Cool American Rappers. And then Classified, a white guy from Nova Scotia, showed us the way with his breakout 2005 album Boy-Cott-In the Industry. We didn’t think Nova Scotians were allowed to rap, and we certainly didn’t think they were allowed to explicitly rap about Canada. What would the Americans think, after all? But Classified, real name Luke Boyd, did just that. He’d been hyping his Canadian identity since he started in 1995 with the release of Times Up, Kid. Some 15 or 18 albums later, depending on which EPs and mixtapes from his discography you include, Classified is still repping the North with his 2016 album Greatful.


It’s a benchmark record for the 36-year-old father of three girls. Greatful features artists like Snak the Ripper and Cool American Rap types like DJ Premier and Snoop Dogg. Classified told us over the phone during a recent interview these features were benchmarks for him. Even Classified, with all his Canadian swagger, still seeks some stateside validation—that’s a Canadian hallmark. That said, Greatful might be his most personal work yet. On the 16-track studio album, he discusses everything from maintaining his rap image, religion, family life, and he even addresses issues with fans who hold him to their ideal Cool Canadian Rap guy image. We wanted to put Classified to the ultimate test. So, we got a self-described “one-time Classified fanatic” to write a brief history about their Classified fandom. Below is Classified’s reactions to his fan’s remarks—good and bad.

Noisey: I’m going to read you statements from one of your fans from Saskatchewan. This fan wrote a brief history of their Classified fandom. Would it be cool if you responded to sections of what they had to say about your career?
Classified: Alright. Let’s see what it is.

The fan wrote: “I have to admit, your music played a major role in my life. I still remember listening to “The Maritimes” from Boy-Cott-In the Industry and it blew my mind. Before that, I was just a kid from western Canada who didn’t know you could be a Canadian rapper.”
That’s fucking cool, man. Like the same [how] we just talked about DJ Premier and Snoop [before this interview], I heard those guys and thought, “What is this? I want to get into this.” It blows my mind because hip-hop has been around from 30 or 40 years now, and it’s cool when I can influence somebody who hasn’t been exposed to hip-hop.


At some shows fans come up and say, “Yo, you’re the first hip-hop show I’ve seen.” Some kid out west hearing my story about the Maritimes and saying, “Okay. This kid is from Nova Scotia, maybe I can rap too.” It’s cool to be able to inspire people.

That is cool. You have that one track on your new album Greatful where you talk about meeting sick kids in a hospital and the other depressing one about the nine-year-old kid who knows all the lyrics to your songs. Must be amazing writing to people like that.
It is. When people hear a song and it affects their life—I get tons of emails like that. Those are the ones that stick with you. It might not be that song on the radio or the one that everyone knows, but it’s that one song that hits a person right and helps them through something.

I’ll keep reading the fan history. “We actually met once,” writes your fan.
This is all the same fan?

Okay, cool.

“You came to Regina to a night club. I was underaged but I still got in. It was crazy for me because people were smoking weed in the club. I met you after the show and told you that you were a huge influence on me and you were really kind.”
That’s great. I love when I hear that. Some people are like, “I met Class, and he was a dick.” I take pride in being a nice person. If someone says they like my music, I will take pictures with them and sign what they need me to sign. When you see someone like that, it feels good. You get the vibe off them. I’m a regular dude, you know? I came up doing shows in front of ten people. It’s appreciated.


“When you won a Juno in 2006, that was also a huge moment as a Classified follower. I remember when that happened and bragging to people for years that I’d actually met you. I felt like you were my guy. Like I owned a piece of you—not in a creepy way, just that I knew you were cool before my friends found out.”
Yeah. [laughs] You meet these same people a lot from touring Canada so much. You meet their wife or husband when you come back to Regina or Calgary or wherever. That’s the cool thing about it: We’re doing this thing together. You’re a part of that.

We’ll get back to the fan history, but can you expand on the Juno win and that moment? That was probably the come up for you since you started grinding in 1995.
Even that was hobby days. I don’t even know if that was the defining moment in 2006. I didn’t even win a Juno in 2006. I think what [that fan] is actually referring to is the time I was nominated for a Juno. I was on that Juno stage, which was cool for me. I still remember that. We had like 40 people with us—friends and family and my mom and dad. That was a big moment for me to be on that Juno stage in Halifax.

Cool. I’m going to keep reading. “Your new Greatful album really speaks to me as a fan who grew up on you because it runs down your history and struggles. It also talks about your maturity as an artist and a man. I think I’m finally old enough to appreciate that stuff since I stopped following your work. The song ‘Heavy Headed’ addresses a lot my feelings after I stopped following.”
[Laughs] I don’t even know how to react. So, what, he said he stopped following because the music wasn’t speaking to him anymore?


Okay *long pause*. Shit [laughs]. I don’t know what to say to that. Cool that he came back, I guess. I don’t think my method changed—it’s evolved and grown. I think I’ve always been on the trail to get where I am now, is what I’m trying to say. It’s not like this album or that album went left field and wasn’t who I was. Not at all. Sometimes fans are going to get it, sometimes not. Only person I can really make happy is myself.

Over the years, I noticed you’re not going to make everyone happy. It’s a constant battle for me. Especially for singles. You want to put out songs that are going hit the most people but you also want substance and that reflects where I am and who I am.

Your fan says, “It was sometime around the release of ‘Oh… Canada’ in 2010 when I started to have weird feelings about your work.”
[Laughs] Are you serious?

“I felt like, ‘That’s not my Classified.’ Which makes no sense because you were always patriotic. The irony is I loved ‘The Maritimes.’ I think my life was in a different place. Kanye was releasing My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I was in university. Things were strange.”
I totally get that. I get like that with music too. Music is a time. A lot of songs I’m into now, back in the day if they came out I don’t know if I would feel that way because of where I was at in life.

Like the guy said, he liked “The Maritimes.” Maybe he was partying in the kitchen with his friends and hanging out. That song probably brings him back to that moment. But where he said he said he didn’t like “Oh… Canada,” to me “Oh… Canada” is a better version of the “The Maritimes.” I like the beat better. I like the way I sampled the “Oh Canada” thing. I put a lot more time and energy into “Oh… Canada” than I did with “The Maritimes.” That was the quickest song I ever did. It was kind of a joke. To me “Oh… Canada” was on a whole other level.


Okay, last part. Ready?

“Anyway, I just want to say I’m really proud of you. I’m old enough now to appreciate you are a rare working artist and you gave me a lot of joy for next to nothing. Thanks for everything, Class. Sincerely, Devin Pacholik. The guy interviewing you right now.”
[Laughs] Oh. That’s killa. That’s dope, man. That’s a clever interview right there. That’s good, man.

Thanks, dude.
Just so you know, “Oh… Canada” is the better song.

[laughs] I think I get it now.

Devin Pacholik still doesn’t like “Oh… Canada.” Follow him on Twitter.