Roll right up, all you jaded dads, because here’s the album for you. The term grown man rap is nearly as well worn as my slippers at this point, but Classified – now Canada’s biggest rap export (RIP Drake) – has returned four years after his 2020 EP “Time” to deliver some miserable bastard rap. Ok, that’s a tad harsh, but this album, his seventeenth no less, connected with my pessimistic ass more than anything I’ve listened to in recent memory. The first verse is some of the most grounded rap around, although Classified fans won’t be surprised by such brutal honesty:

“Ayo, the market’s all fucked up
Everybody house hunting
Wife’s on a health kick
I just wanna smoke something
Life got crazier, all getting older
My patience wore thin, metabolism got slower
Physically, I’m 44, mentally 27
Sexually 23, sense of humor ’bout 11
Heh, funny how this game is so odd
When did rappers start getting botox and nosejobs?
The hairline doеsn’t wanna grow lately, heh
And the beard down gеtting kinda low, baby
I’m just tryna age in grace, but it’s hard saving face
When you spend 20 years blazing jays, life is catching up
They say it’s corny ’cause I never wear designer brands
I think it’s corny that you care about designer brands
I don’t do the fashion, I do the find your passion
Then it’s time for action, ’til you shinin’ everlasting, I needed this

The fact he’s sharing this perspective over his own production (which has improved with each year that passes) only adds to the authentic everyman quality of his brand that’s been built up over the last thirty years. Naming this album “Luke’s View”, it’s full of opinions on what’s going on in the world, which he admits some will agree with, some will disagree with, although I didn’t find anything particularly egregious, or controversial. What’s changed since his last album I covered (2016’s “Greatful”) is that this feels like a better Classified album, even if it’s probably not his best album. There’s no DJ Premier track, no Snoop Dogg feature. He’s in a place where he’s making music for fun, even if he’s using it to simply get shit off of his chest. “People” is an anthem for the antisocial crowd, declaring his hate for all types of people, something we can all relate to. It’s safer than you’d expect, but does accept that despite hating pretty much everybody, there’s more important things in life to worry about.

Will Farrell’s movie Semi-Pro is riffed on in the video for single “Amnesia”, an admittedly catchy piece of pop-rap that you’ll always get once or twice with Classified. “All Wrong” is a bigger number, but the best of the bunch is “Wonder”, which touches on his wife’s miscarriage, falling out of love with battle rap, and his uncle never coming out of the closet. It’s probably the best track on the whole album, and stands out as a prime example of why Classified has proven so successful over the years. When he’s at his best, there are few as relatable, or as immediately accessible, on the microphone.

Marijuana laws in Canada, taxes in Nova Scotia, and a Make Canada Great Again declaration may raise an eyebrow for some, but songs like “Make It Make Sense” offer no resolutions in the same way dads chatting over a barbeque about the news doesn’t. Surface level observations at best. More successful is the brilliantly conceived “Dad Jokes”, which might prove divisive depending on your sense of humor, but is a much-needed breather in the middle of the album. It possesses a killer concept and a perfect Slick Rick vocal snippet, with rhymes probably better than many rappers’ best despite being purposefully poor. When he said he was mentally eleven years old, this is what he’s talking about. “I stay cooler than a icicle, ain’t doing nothing, I’m too tired like a bicycle”. Hey, I laughed at least. The sole collaboration with an emcee is “Sure Enough”, with Masta Ace, and it’s more experimental than you’d expect.

Teaming up with his brother Mike Boyd, “The Hardy Boyds” is as goofy as you’d expect, with the two playing the roles of the Hardy Boys, the famous fictional detectives, although the wrestlers would have been a more accurate metaphor given Jeff and Matt are similarly experienced veterans in what’s traditionally a young man’s game.

The beat on “Drip” is typically punchy (and worth watching the video for), but the flow is distracting and it’s not one that I’ve returned to. It’s also where Classified veers into being that unfashionable dad, as he proudly boasts in other songs of not being into fashion, yet now his drip is fresh. Granted, 99% of rappers contradict themselves on their albums, but this one too obvious not to point out.

For an artist often overlooked in the international market, Classified continues to produce high-quality albums that warrant the reputation he has in his homeland. It sounds big-budget, he feels authentic, and more often than not, provides something new that you’ve not heard before. His discography is becoming vast, but there’s not a better place to enter than “Luke’s View” because it captures everything you like (and dislike) about an emcee still operating at a high level, making music for those of us with a little grey in our beards.

Classified :: Luke's View
8Overall Score