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Classified – Self Explanatory [Review]

Classified - Self Explanatory

Published in The Calgary Sun, April 21st 2009

Enfield, NS – Is Anybody Listening?

After 10 full-length albums, east Coast rapper Classified — born Luke Boyd — sure hopes so since he dropped his latest and 11th disc on a major label, Self-Explanatory, earlier this month and will begin a 27-date cross-Canada club tour on Thursday in Vancouver before hitting the GTA in May with stops in Waterloo (May 13), Toronto (May 15), Whitby (May 16), Milton (May 20) and Hamilton (May 21).

For the previous indie artist from a small town about 25 minutes outside Halifax — Enfield, population: 3,200 — the long wait to getting a deal with Sony Music Entertainment Canada for Self-Explanatory was worth it.

“It was frustrating but I think just the way it happened it kind of worked in a great way,” said the 31-year-old rapper.

“Because if I kind of came out in ’95-’96 and started to get a little bit of fame, I think by now I would have been washed up and done with it. But just the fact that a little bit happened every year and I just kept slowly learning things that kind of kept me excited with it. And just slowly moving forward — so I’m still feeling good, still having a fun time doing it. And it looks like things are starting to happen.”

Halifax boasts a healthy music scene, but when it came to rap, Enfield not so much.

“It was me and my brother and two other people that listened to hip-hop and that was pretty much it. So that was my first introduction, and then when I moved into Halifax that’s when I really got involved with the hip-hop scene.”

Both of Classified’s brothers — his older brother Mike B raps and sings hooks while his younger brother Jake plays drums — can be heard throughout Self-Explanatory, as can his father Mike Boyd Sr., who plays guitar and sings.


“I’m the only one in my family that can’t play an instrument — as funny as that is. So whenever I need a live guitar, or bass line and drums, I’ll just call my dad or my brother and they’ll come up, free of charge. You gotta love it.”

Still, Self-Explanatory’s first single, Anybody Listening, which samples the Genesis song, No Reply At All, doesn’t exactly scream hip-hop cool, but Boyd, who records all of his albums in his home studio in Enfield, doesn’t care.

“I’ve been a Phil Collins fan for years,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what you do, certain people are going to love it, certain people are going to hate it.

“And that track, people might say, ‘Oh, he sampled a Genesis song,’ that song was probably the hardest song to make on the whole album. I’m super proud of the track and I’m glad it’s catching on the way it is. I don’t know if Phil has actually heard it yet.”

For a child who suffered from hearing and speech problems, Classified’s career of choice is all the more amazing.

“I find it so ironic,” he said. “Like my mom told me that I never spoke ’til I was three, and I used to have tubes in my ears and all this stuff ’cause I couldn’t hear right, and now I listen and speak for a living. It’s crazy.”

The father of a six-month-old baby with his wife, has also come a long way emotionally since some dark times.

On the new track, Things Are Looking Up, Classified writes honestly about dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts about nine years ago.

“I had four months of my life that was a pretty depressing time. It happened. I learned from it and moved on,” he said, crediting the support of his friends and family.

“I got a lot of friends. I hang around with the same group of people I had since Grade 3. So it’s good, they keep you on your toes, they keep you real, and they get you through the tough times.”

Written by Jane Stevenson for Sun Media
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