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Classified, pictured here, is promoting a new music video for Pick Your Poison
Classified (Photo: Facebook)

Interview: Q&A

Classified talks “Good News” video, TIME EP, COVID-19, Nova Scotia mass shootings & more

Roughly a year ago, multi-platinum Canadian producer and rapper Classified released his Tory Lanez-assisted “Cold Love” video which recently passed the 300K mark on YouTube (currently sitting at 312K+ views).

Ignoring the fact that the song was featured on a project titled Tomorrow Could Be The Day Things Change, Classified would obviously have no way of knowing at the time the type of chaos that laid ahead for the world, and the different challenges it would bring as a musician.

Class—like every other artist and entertainer—had to cancel/postpone tour dates because of the quarantine measures that started rolling out mid-March. It’s a drastic situation that has impacted people’s ability to make money, and the economy at large. Those in the music business have not been spared.

 
Classified, pictured here, has released a new video for Good News

Classified (Photo: Facebook)

But Classified has pushed forward and hasn’t let the pandemic slow down his drive or let it impact his ability to connect with fans. He’s become a shining light at a time when hope is needed in the community; on a small scale and in the country as a whole. Some people are dealing with very tough and tragic situations, while others are are blessed to not feel much burden at all, beyond not being able to live normally. But everyone could benefit from a little strength and positivity right now, regardless of their circumstance.

Yesterday marked the release of his latest video “Good News,” which features budding Halifax singer-songwriter Breagh Isabel. Class created the video with his younger brother Mike Boyd.

“The whole point of the video was to bring our kids (including my three daughters) and their friends to meet some of the elderly and have a small party, celebrating life in general,” Class explained in a post on Facebook.

“My hope was to get the elders to share stories with the kids and tell them about growing up, along with things that were important to them so the kids could get something out of it.”

The video for “Good News” was shot in a retirement home in Enfield, Nova Scotia before the COVID-19 pandemic and mass shootings. Sadly, retirement homes across Canada have been heavily impacted by the pandemic including The Magnolia in Enfield where the video was shot.

Last week, Class teamed up with Isabel and Owen Lee (aka Osound) for a “Live and Stripped Down” version of “Good News,” which gave fans an inside look at his creative workspace.

 

He also rolled out the #GoodNewsChallenge, encouraging his fans to submit videos to him with the hashtag sharing their good news to raise money for Make A Wish. He’s donating 50 cents for every submission made.

And while COVID-19 has hit some other countries a lot harder than Canada, there are still over 62 thousand confirmed cases as of May 6, with at least 985 in Class’ home province of Nova Scotia. On March 22, the Province of Nova Scotia declared a state of emergency to help contain the spread of the virus. As of today, the state of emergency remains extended until noon on May 17, 2020.

But the Nova Scotia community has been dealing with more than just COVID-19, and these days the more “Good News” we can get the better. Just a few weeks ago, Nova Scotia was the scene of Canada’s deadliest mass shooting, and the individual behind it all was killed by police in Class’ hometown, Enfield, on April 19.

At the time, Class released a statement on Instagram:

“Thanks to everyone who checked in on me and my family yesterday. We are safe. But unfortunately 16 people aren’t. Prayers for them and my friends who lost a family member or friend. Coward act by a pathetic piece of shit that ended in Enfield yesterday. Don’t know what else to say.”

Class also took part in an online vigil which was aired by CBC, CTV and several radio stations. Artists George Canyon, Jenn Grant, and Reeny Smith also took part.

After all the dust had settled, authorities revealed that the killing spree resulted in 23 deaths (including the perpetrator) and three injured. The situation has already lead to change in Canada including a new ban on assault rifles.

And while we did ask Class about the situation in our new interview, “Good News” remains the main focus. We connected with Class to discuss the video, his next project which will be an EP, COVID-19, working with his brother Mike Boyd, and more.

Coincidentally, exactly 15 years ago today (May 6, 2005) HipHopCanada published Classified’s “5th Element” single on the Canadian Choice Cuts segment we used to run.

As you can see from our new interview below, Class is still dropping knowledge today. Check out the “Good News” video below and keep scrolling for the Q&A.


Q&A: Classified

HipHopCanada: Class thanks for taking time to connect with us again and congrats on the release of your latest big single. Having first interviewed you in 2000 it’s a privilege to continue to see you grow. With the video dropping today, let’s dive right into that.

You co-directed it with your brother Mike Boyd. What was the main inspiration for the video treatment and what kind of feedback have you been getting on day 1 of it’s release?

Classified: My whole plan with the video was just to bring my kids and a bunch of their friends into the retirement home here in Enfield and let them meet some of the elders and just talk to them… I wanted the elders to talk about their life and things that were important to them. And I wanted to bring the kids into just give the elders a nice surprise party and time to hang with some kids… and then me and Mike just videotaped it all. Not gonna lie though, 15 kids and 15 older people was a tough video shoot. Kids are crazy and don’t stop moving, and after about two hours of shooting most of the elders were ready for naps. So we had to shoot quick.

HipHopCanada: Breagh Isabel dropped a really epic hook on “Good News” and she sounds great over your production. How did the collaboration come about?

Classified: I have worked with Breagh a few times before. She came out to the studio to work on some beats and hooks and this was the last one that we did for the day. Right away the vibe hit me but it did take a couple days for me to figure out how I wanted to tackle the subject.

HipHopCanada: Some people may not realize that the recent mass shooting came to an end in your hometown. You made a pretty straightforward statement at the time about your thoughts on it and the perpetrator. How do you feel the community is coping with things a few weeks after the fact?

Classified: Yeah. It ended five minutes down the road. At the gas station myself and my family go to breakfast ever other week. So hit really close to home. The community has really come together. I think in any situation like this it takes a tight knit community to come together and support each other and mourn together. And that’s exactly what happened here. Everyone really came together.

 
Classified, pictured here, has released a new video for Good News

Classified (Photo: Facebook)

HipHopCanada: Back to the music. I don’t think we’ve received as much feedback to adding a song to our Spotify playlist than when we added “Rap Shit.” How did that collaboration come together with Snak The Ripper and Dax?

Classified: Ha. That’s dope. I made the beat and wrote my hook and verse and just felt like I wanted to feature some other MCs on it. Dax was playing a show in Halifax and stopped by my studio. I showed him the song and he jumped on it. Then I reached out to Snak who is on the West Coast (Dax is from Ottawa). I wanted to make it a Canada wide thing. Snak wrote his verse, recorded his part and shot the video in like three days. Work ethic!

HipHopCanada: Can we expect to see “Good News” and “Rap Shit” on a larger body of work this year?

Classified: Yeah. I have an EP coming out. 8 songs, called TIME. Should be out in the summer.

HipHopCanada: Your catalogue has grown quite immensely since we first started covering you. If you had to pick one song to win over a new fan which would it be, and why?

Classified: Man. I don’t know, that’s hard… “Fallen,” maybe “Noah’s Arc,” or “All About You.” Not sure. So many different styles of songs that might hit different people different.

 
Classified, pictured here, has released a new video for Good News

Dutchy from HipHopCanada & Mike Boyd

HipHopCanada: Most of your recent releases involve your own video work with your brother Mike. Do you guys have any plans to do work with other artists after all this and do you know if Mike has plans to drop any more music?

Classified: Funny you said that. Me and Mike are always talking about doing an EP together. That might happen if this quarantine things keeps up.

But yeah, Mike has been shooting videos for a lot of people down on the East Coast. He also shot some stuff for R.A. the Rugged Man. He’s looking for more video work for sure. He picked it up quick and can turn out crazy videos with small budgets. I love that we shoot all our videos now. Usually I’ll come up with an idea and then give it to Mike and he will expand on it, and then we shoot it. And if we don’t like it, we shoot it again. Couldn’t do that before.

HipHopCanada: What about the fact that there’s really no Canadian TV network to air music videos on anymore… Do you approach making videos differently knowing that’s the case?

Classified: Yeah. Just doesn’t feel right spending 20K on a video anymore. But the way we are doing it now, I feel like we are getting the same type of quality video for next to nothing. We bought the camera, couple lights and just do everything ourselves. We have no crew, just me and Mike.

Sometimes we will hire a lighting guy for 300 bucks for the day, and that’s usually our only expense. Extras. We just get our friends and family to fill in.

 
Classified, pictured here, has released a new video for Good News

Dutchy from HipHopCanada & Classified

HipHopCanada: Coming from an era from before social media, how do you feel about the overall state of hip-hop/music in 2020 and do you feel like you’ve had any difficulty adapting to some of the new norms? (For example, hard copies not necessarily being needed, TikTok being a game changer if your song is added to the right video on there etc.)

Classified: I try to keep up with it. The Instagram posts etc. TikTok I tried, but with the time that that takes I could be making another song or beat. Just takes too much time. Trying to get my kids to take over my TikTok and do that for me. But yeah, I been in the game over 20 years. So things def changed… a lot of the new hip-hop styles I don’t love. Just feels more like R&B to me, which I was never a big fan of. I wanna hear people spitting, lyrics, stories etc.

HipHopCanada: Last question, just to tie it back in, you’ve been running the #GoodNewsChallenge on social media and will be donating money for every submission. What’s the best submission you’ve received so far?

Classified: Serena Ryder had a good one. Got a lot of great ones. Just small things. But that was the point of it, appreciate the small things.

Classified talks Good News video, TIME EP, COVID-19, Nova Scotia mass shootings and more

You can follow @ClassifiedHipHop on Instagram.


Written by Jesse Plunkett for HipHopCanada


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Jesse founded HipHopCanada.com in 1999 and is currently the organization's Co-President & Editor-in-Chief.

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