Friday, November 23, 2007

Reviews:: Classified - While You Were Sleeping

It's hard not to be impressed by the work Classified has put in over the last ten plus years. Well, unless your name is Statler and/or Waldorf, those dudes aren't impressed with anyone. Or if you're one of those "I hate rap!" quiffs. Or perhaps, if you're a hater of some kind. But that's it, so you're on notice everyone else, consider yourselves impressed. Seriously though, not sure if you know much about Enfield, the small town outside of Halifax that Class hails from, but let's just say there aren't a lot of rap stars coming out of there. Well his brother Mic Boyd has an album coming out next year, but for now there's only one rap star from Enfield.

But geography is far from the most impressive aspect of Classified's resume. Longevity in the hip hop biz is kind of rare, and the number of artists who have been putting albums out for 11, 12 years and remain relevant at a national, or even local level is pretty minuscule. That's true in the US, but especially here in Canada where making a living off of kicking the ballistics is very hard, so most MC's just don't have the resources to stay in the game. But Class has, and his songs are probably reaching more people than ever. He's worked hard at becoming a solid MC (ask him, he'll tell you he wasn't very good when he started), and I think he's become a very, very good producer. On his last couple albums, Class has managed to produce tracks that have more radio appeal, but manage to avoid corniness stay true to the "real" hip hop aesthetic he's aimed for in the past.

Add all that up, and you get a rare instance where a "greatest hits" type album like While You Where Sleeping makes sense. Like I said, Class has been doing this for a while, and his new fans surely haven't heard a lot of his old work, especially some of the stuff from the 90's demo releases which are likely impossible to find now. So this is a nice retrospective, with Class breaking down the history of each track in the liner notes and a bonus video DVD, you certainly get your money's worth. Some highlights:

Love The One You're With - Features his brother Mic Boyd, and their father, Mike Boyd Sr. I assume it's Papa Boyd kicking the Stephen Still lyrics on the hook, and surprisingly, he does a decent job. Apparently this was supposed to be on his brothers album, but Class kept it for himself. Oh big brothers!

Fall From Paradise - From his last album Hitch Hikn' Music, check out my review for it here. A nifty new video has been shot for it, which you can see here.

Flashbacks - 1997 song Utilizes two classic samples, the RZA from Tearz and a K.D. Lang guitar riff. Well I suppose if you're a big K.D. Lang fan it would be considered classic.

Life's A Bitch - Hold the phone, Classified has a song from 1995 that samples the H & O? Wow, not sure how a Hall & Oates enthusiast like myself didn't know that. Anyway, this isn't Class's best jam (the guitar lick from They Want Efx doesn't really match the Rich Girl sample), but on principle I enjoy it.

It Ain't Over - This Crowded House sampler was Class' first big song, he actually re-released it on vinyl in Japan at one point.

Can't Stop - Features Fax4 member Quake and lyricist extraordinaire Chino XL: "you fourteen, couldn't outbox Avril Lavigne". Good stuff.

Beatin It - From my review: "Beatin It is a concept song about the beat making process, with Class rhyming as the beat comes together in sections. Clever idea." In retrospect, I was right. As usual.

Heavy Artillary - Reggae flavoured jam is a little different from Class' normal production, but it's one of his favorites, so he still plays it at his shows.

Those of us in Halifax would be foolish to miss Class at the Marquee in February (16th & 17th), but fear not if you're in another Canadian locale, class is going across the country again in January, check myspace for tour dates.

MP3:: Classified - Life's A Bitch

MP3:: Classified - Can't Stop f. Chino XL & Quake

myspace :: label

Posted at 10:07 AM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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