Classified explains it all

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After more than a dozen years and a dozen records, hip-hop producer/rapper Classified has gone major: his Sony debut will drop in 2009.

"We've been going back and forth with Sony since February to get this deal done and make it make sense," reports Class, AKA Luke Boyd, from a Winnipeg hotel room, the latest stop on the cross-country tour he's doing with D12, Joe Budden and Royce Da 5'9". ("It's fuckin' horrible," he says of Peg City. "We rolled in at 1am and it was snowing, storming.") "It's a two-album deal depending on how the first album sells. I'm going to make the same amount per record, but now I've got the whole team behind me."

The 23-track Self-Explanatory, currently at the mixing-mastering stage, was recorded over six months and, like all of Boyd's efforts, at his home studio in Enfield. Guest appearances include Joel Plaskett and Socrates—" lots of different cats I've been looking up to over the years"—and "there's a lot of different shit," says Boyd. "A lot more live instrumentation, a lot of musicality. Horns, strings, flutes—mixed with samples, DJs, rhymes."

Boyd's been playing the game for a long time, and successfully—he's a renowned producer, has been nominated for a Juno and won a MuchMusic Video Award—but he's always remained staunchly independent. To go major now was a considered decision. "We've been talking to labels over the last few years, but nothing that was putting us in a better position than we were before," he says. "When you sign with a major, you have to give up ownership of your masters and things like that so I had to do things in a way that made sense to me. With this deal I get all of my publishing, half of my masters. But they're doing all the marketing—I don't have to recoup any of that."

After his current tour wraps up in Vancouver on December 1—plus a stop in Toronto to sign the official papers with Sony—Boyd will meet back up with D12 and Royce in England, Amsterdam and Germany and get back home just in time for the holidays. And then it's the major label blitz—Boyd is most excited about the label being able to extend his reach beyond these borders, down south and overseas. But ultimately, "I wasn't taking any losses," he says, "and I wanted to make sure I'm getting what we deserve."

Classified's new single, "Trouble," drops November 25. Look for Self-Explanatory this March.

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