Greatful is how Classified left the sold-out crowd at the Commodore Ballroom on Saturday night.
It’s been a while since the West Coast has seen the Maritime rapper, also known as Luke Boyd. But with the recent release of his latest studio album Greatful, Classified stopped into Vancouver as part of a 25 date tour that includes an all-Canadian line up.
With Toronto’s JD Era and Vancouver’s SonReal opening, local fans knew they were in for some back-to-back-to-back rapid-fire rapping. While some might say the Canadian rap scene is under represented, the Greatful Tour seemed to prove otherwise. After a warm up by JD Era, and a “250 per cent energy” homecoming performance by SonReal (a must-see live), it was time for rap-alongs with Halifax’s Classified.
Known for his sharp, honest lyrics, and intoxicating beats, Class has been one of Canada’s most celebrated rap artists. Having started out back in 1995, Class has always collaborated and worked with internationally known artists – with his latest album being no exception.
Clad in a black t-shirt with a Toronto Maple Leafs hat, the engaging rapper had the full attention of his loyal fanbase. During his electric set, it was hard not to get lost in his world, lyrics, and music. From crowdsurfing, to boob flashes, and a Nova Scotia flag, it was hard not to get into the groove. On stage, it was a family affair for Boyd, having his brother Jake on guitar and Mike as his hypeman.
And Classified’s ambition and talent has always gone beyond the stage. His albums really resonate with fans, and partly because it stems from real passion and a supporting East Coast environment. “I’m from a small town outside of Halifax,” Boyd said, discussing the music scene and his influences when he first began producing. “When I came to Halifax, it was like ‘okay, I’m going to the big city.’ There was a real scene there. There were DJs and all that. That was the foundation that taught me about making beats. But more so, the people around Nova Scotia like my family and friends. It was not so much where I come from, but the people from the places I come from.”
At the time, Class said he was following the footsteps of Canadian rappers like Choclair, Kardinal Offishall, and Maestro. But, Boyd added, one thing they did differently was hitting a lot of small towns in Canada on tours. “I do feel we did bring a lot of first live hip hop shows to places like Cranbrook or Invermere.” And it has been something his fans have always appreciated, as he continues to do so on his current tour.
Boyd, who spoke to us on the ferry on the way to his sold-out show in Victoria, is not only a fan favourite, but is also a hit with critics. He’s a two-time Juno Awards winner, past Juno host, and five-time MuchMusic Video Awards winner. Like his past records, his latest album features some hip hop powerhouse collaborations by DJ Premier and the legendary Snoop Dogg.
The second single off Greatful, “No Pressure,” features Snoop Dogg and Dave Sampson. The Dogg was in Halifax for a feature on Trailer Park Boys when he got together to record with Boyd. “It was cool. He [Snoop] was shooting Trailer Park Boys for a week and we were trying to line up a song with him. When we found out he was 20 minutes down the road, we brought a make shift studio to his hotel, set it up and did the song in three or four hours,” said Boyd.
And the track, probably one of the fan favourites from Saturday night, is clearly a catchy hit. But don’t expect Boyd to always hit up rap legends for collaborations. Although he’d like to work with artists like Jay Z, he is full of surprises.
“I’d like to do different stuff,” he said. “I’d like to do something with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, or Paul McCartney or just something left field. I like doing left field stuff and
there are a millions artists I’d love to work with.”
And the million artists should work with Classified. His beatboxing skills, stage charisma, command of rap and lyrical genius keeps putting Canada on the map when it comes to hip hop. And for very good reason.
Classified’s Canadian tour concludes in Halifax on March 18.
Photos for Vancity Buzz provided by Brandon Artis. Connect with him at @_brandonartis.