Classified feeling Juno love [Article]
Toronto, ON – Last year around this time, Halifax rapper Classified was kicking off the Juno Awards on the streets of George Street in St. John’s, Newfoundland, with a performance of his patriotic single, Oh Canada.
Flash forward to this week, and the 33-year-old Classified — real name Luke Boyd — finds the song competing for the coveted single of the year on Sunday night’s Juno Awards at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto (CTV, 8 p.m.) where he is also a presenter.
“It’s crazy,” said Classified on Tuesday in Toronto, the same day his 12th studio album, Handshakes and Middle Fingers, debuted at No. 2 on the iTunes album charts in Canada.
“For me, that song has been out since last January, so for me it was even a surprise. I’m like, ‘S–t, none of this makes sense. I was just surprised that Oh Canada was even eligible. It’s a big category for (a song from) an album that’s been out for two and a half years (2009’s Self-Explanatory). So I think it’s really cool that they’re recognizing it.”
And Classified, who also kicked off a cross-Canada tour on Thursday night, is well aware he’s facing stiff competition in the form of Drake’s Find Your Love, Hedley’s Perfect, k.d. lang’s Hallelujah, and Young Artists for Haiti’s Wavin’ Flag.
“To be in that group it’s crazy,” he said. “These are all artists that have success worldwide where I feel I’m still building in Canada and trying to build my name here. I don’t think I have a chance. Like everybody says, ‘It’s great to be nominated,’ but for me, like, it really is. Like I don’t think I’m going to win this. If I do, it’s going to be a complete shock but you never know.”
Classified says even his mom is rooting for his competition.
“My mom’s a huge k.d. lang fan so she’s just like ‘Ahhhhhh!’ She is (hoping for lang to win), she is. It sucks when your mom won’t root for ya.”
In the meantime, Classified has plenty to be happy about given the high debut of Handshakes and Middle Fingers, whose title describes the album’s theme of “balance” and is best exemplified on the opening track, Ups and Downs, which finds him rapping: “Am I a one hit wonder? I don’t think I am. But the thought crossed my mind, then I erased it.”
Needless to say, Classified is thrilled with the high debut of Handshakes and Middle Fingers on iTunes. “It’s definitely the biggest start for me. I don’t even think we were ever Top 10 on the first-week sales. It feels great. You just never know how that’s going to go.”
And among the album’s unlikely guests is Blue Rodeo’s alt-country-pop veteran Jim Cuddy on the disc-ending tune, The Hangover.
The two men met while playing hockey at the Juno Cup in Halifax in 2006.
“We just kind of talked a little bit and then we did again last year in Newfoundland and we just always kind of got along, I don’t know why,” he said. “We kind of chopped it up in the dressing room joking around and I just said, ‘Dude, I’m going to call you sometime and get you on a song.’ And I just hit him up and he was like, ‘Yeah, send over what you want me to do.’ He was really cool about it. I don’t know if he’s a big hip-hop fan but he didn’t ask for a cent.
“I’m a fan of Canadian music whether it’s hip-hop or whatever it is. We make good music here. For me, this is our scene and our industry and I love working with people from here.”