VIBE: How has the musical landscape in Canada changed since you first started?
With Drake blowing up and K'naan doing the "Wavin' Flag" thing a couple years ago, that just gave a lot more eyes to the Canadian scene, where the rest of the world seemed a little bit more acceptable and kinda open to go okay, ‘Let me check this out.’ Drake’s dope. He’s doing his thing. There’s a couple of other artists trying to break through A lot of people are hungry right now not just in Canada but in the world. It used to be more about playing shows and getting out there. Now, people are more concerned with putting up the mp3s, viral videos, Facebook and all that stuff. It’s good but I think people just need to get back to the essence of going out and playing shows. That’s how you connect with fans. Get off the internet a little bit. That stuff is great but don’t let that define how you’re going to get your music out.
Has the internet changed your approach to hip hop?
Definitely, just even working with artists. The track on my album I did with Raekwon was over the internet. I worked with Royce Da 5'9' five times and we've always done it over the internet back and forth. Back in the late '90s when I kinda started doing my thing, I had a little bit of a jump because I had a friend who was a super computer nerd. He would hook up the websites and the mp3s. That’s how I first got my music heard on a national level because I didn’t have national distribution or national radio play. So it definitely helps you get your stuff out. I’m just going to put out my viral video and people are gonna know I’m an emcee. That’s one part of it but you gotta get out there and still do that old-fashioned tour grind.
You’re going on 20 years in the industry now. How does it feel?
17 years. I have a little bit till 20. It’s good man, I started when I was 15 years old. It was something that started as a hobby, then when I was a little bit older I started doing more shows and it went from the four-second sample to buying my own studio. I always thought that I was moving ahead. That’s sort’ve what kept me going. I produce all my stuff. I get excited when I make an album. Career-wise, it's always stepped up a little bit. For my first record, we pressed up 100 copies then 1,000 for the next then we had distribution then we got my Halflife record label imprint signed to a major label. Just growing it in small steps kept me interested. It let me learn the industry as I came in and build a buzz.
Read on to find out how Classified feels about his first top 10 single "Inner Ninja" and his self-titled album Classified becoming no. 1 in Canada.