Classified Retrospected – Photo by Dave Hamilton
By Keith Sharp
About three years ago, rapper Classified (a/k/a Luke Boyd) started to re-interpret songs from his vast catalogue of music as acoustic tracks with his guitar player. He soon discovered that a new audience was tuning in to his music. That devoid of the drum/bass arrangements of previous rap-based arrangements, people were discovering a clearer lyrical meaning to his music.
This inspired the Enfield, Nova Scotia native to work on a new album that presented 14 songs in a new light and featured guest artists such as Jann Arden, Dallas Smith, Matt Mays, Jully Black, Joel Plaskett and David Myles performing on such established remakes as “Inner Ninja,” “Accept It,” “Good News,” “All About You” and “Three Foot Tall”
The album, titled ‘Retrospected’ also features Jully Black on “Young Soul,” a track not previously released as a single. Classified also utilized his downtime from the COVID pandemic by completing his autobiography titled ‘Off The Beat ‘N Path’ which will be released prior to his 22-date acoustic Canadian tour due to launch October 22nd at Peterborough’s Market Hall and conclude November 14th at Windsor Nova Scotia’s Mermaid Imperial Arts Centre.
“I had done a couple of shows with just my guitar player, acoustically and I noticed that people were taking the lyrics more personally,“ explained Classified from his Nova Scotia enclave. “Whether they could hear them better without the drum/bass production or just relate to them more, I don’t know. But it did give me the idea to re-interpret certain songs which had a more lyrical base.”
As a result, classic rap hits like “Inner Ninja,” Classified’s first bonafide hit, have undergone a complete overhaul with the likes of Matt Mays and Joel Plaskett turning that track into an accessible, sing-along pop track.
“I had a lot of problems when I started working on ‘Inner Ninja,’ ” Classified admitted. “I wasn’t loving where it was going, so I started working with Matt, and he looked at the arrangement a whole different way. I wanted to present the song like we were jamming around a campfire, so he put his own twist to it, and we ended up doing it Matt Mays’ style.”
“An album highlight is his duet with R&B star Jully Black on ‘Young Soul,’ a song previously obscure enough that fans think it’s a new track! It’s one of those songs which didn’t originally have a video,” Classified explained. “It wasn’t on the radio, nothing like that; nobody really knew that song. It’s about the positives and negatives of growing, and yes, it is autobiographical.”
Classified had never worked with Black previously but had bumped into her at shows and industry events. “I knew of Jully from growing up in the Nineties to Canadian rappers, so I reached out to her about ‘Young Soul,’ and she agreed right away, so we recorded the track and shot the video.”
Jann Arden is another established pop star who duets with Classified on “Good News,” which he agrees will allow that track to reach a wider audience. “To be honest, I didn’t know people like Jann or Dallas Smith, but when I reached out to them, they respected my music enough to want to get involved with this recording.”
A prolific writer/performer who has released 18 studio albums since his 2005`Time’s Up Kid debut, Classified has remained true to his Canadian roots, never venturing from his Enfield Nova Scotia home to pursue the American dream like Drake or The Weeknd, instead working on a series of records and videos, created with his brother Mike.
“I would never turn down an opportunity to be more popular; I am always looking for more, but my motivation is my music and not just popularity; that’s what keeps me sane,” Classified noted. “At first, my motivation was financial, to make enough money to support my family, but now my motivation is to be more creative. If I tried to change the way I do things, it’s not going to work; if that’s what radio wants, I’m not going to compromise myself to be more acceptable. Once in a blue moon, I might try something, but I have to be true to myself.”
Winner and nominee for numerous East Coast, Juno and MuchMusic Awards while retaining his Canadian image, Classified has chronicled his eventful career in a book, ‘Off The Beat ‘N Path’ an exercise he found to be therapeutic. “At first, I thought I was too young to write an autobiography, but now I’m glad I did it this young. I can see things a lot clearer, and I can appreciate what I have achieved so far.”
So, with a new album and new book to promote, Classified hits the road in October for a national ‘acoustic tour’ which he hopes will reach an expanded audience who may not be hip-hop/rap fans but will appreciate his lyrical compositions.
“If new people get to hear my music and can appreciate the lyrical content, then great. And if that motivates them to go back and check out my older stuff, all the better, then that might be a way for them to get into hip-hop,” Classified allowed. “My old fans are aware of what I am trying to do to win over some new fans; anything that makes my music more accessible has to be a positive move forward.”
For more information on Classified’s future tour dates and book launch, please link to https://www.classifiedofficial.com