Classified has his vices and virtues, but when it’s all said and done, he’s just looking for balance. By Kyle Mullin for Edmonton’s SEE Magazine, Thursday April 14 2011
He tried to write a new national anthem, only to be labelled a racist.
Classified’s “Oh Canada” became an unofficial theme song for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games, but not as a rousing rap ode with an inspiring chorus. The Halifax MC ditched the typically cheesy sentiment of such songs, instead using quirkily self deprecating rhymes to paint a true picture of what binds us: “Think we finish every sentence with buddy or bye, and if it ain’t that it’s either dude, eh or guy … we all got at least one drinking buddy, and after one drink, all of us think we’re funny.”
He tried the same sentiment with his more regional effort “The Maritimes,” nearly half a decade before, cracking wise about his home’s shortcomings until they became endearing. But after the cheekily nationalistic sequel of sorts hit the music video airwaves in 2010, some viewer feedback was simply, grimly serious — only Caucasian extras appeared in the clip, and Internet message boards began filling up with accusations that Classified was a bigot.
“There’s a lot of dumb people that don’t know things, that just say stuff because they want to be heard,” Classified says of the allegations, adding that as a hip hop fan he witnessed the attacks by visiting the rap message boards he clicks across nearly daily. “I just remember reading something like that on the boards,
‘Oh, Classified’s a racist, he didn’t put no black people or multicultural people in the video.’ We shot a video and asked everybody in the town to come out, and whoever came out that’s up to them. I’m not gonna not shoot the video, or go pay black people to be in my video or something, for me that’s more racist than anything, trying to separate people like we need to have this and that. So I more laughed it off, but at the same time I was like ‘let me address it on a song and just give it a line or two, and tell people exactly how I feel.’”
Classified’s lyrical rebuttal appears along with a starkly skeletal beat on “Ups and Downs”, which serves as the opening of his new album, Hand Shakes and Middle Fingers (which was released late in March). On that lead track he also details a different struggle, that’s been far more ongoing, with the line “I ain’t as quick thinkin’ as I once was, guess that’s what smokin’ J’s and blunts does.”
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