TORONTO – Last year, East Coast rapper Classified had the good fortune of releasing his patriotic party jam “Oh Canada” just as the nation was at the peak of a flag-flaunting Olympic high.
The tune went platinum, earned a nomination for single of the year at the March 27 Juno Awards, and gave the Enfield, N.S., native his biggest bona fide hit.
But it also made him wonder if he would come to be regarded by that most dreaded of musical monikers: the one-hit wonder.
“It crossed my mind,” the personable rapper said in a recent telephone interview.
“A lot of people who bought ‘Oh Canada’ or heard ‘Oh Canada’ that might have been their first and maybe their last taste of hearing Classified, you know what I mean?
“We sold almost 100,000 copies of that single, and I knew what it was doing with the Olympics, and timing and all that stuff.
“I totally don’t think it’s my only hit, but I think in some people’s mind frames who don’t really follow hip hop and the underground as much they probably think that’s the only song I ever had out or the only song I’m gonna have out.”
Still, he’s hoping his new fans prove a little less fickle than that.
The 33-year-old rapper whose real name is Luke Boyd will drop his 14th album, “Handshakes and Middle Fingers,” on Tuesday.
The album features collaborations with Brother Ali, Joe Budden and even Blue Rodeo frontman Jim Cuddy, whom Boyd met while playing in the annual hockey showdown, the Juno Cup (“He was real cool to do it too … he didn’t ask for a penny,” Boyd says of Cuddy).
Boyd’s last LP, 2009’s “Self Explanatory,” was his major-label debut and a commercial breakthrough for the rapper, who long toiled in the Canadian rap underground.
Still, while the stakes would seem higher now given Boyd’s burgeoning profile in the industry, he says life isn’t much different in the wake of his most successful record yet.
“Nothing really big changed,” he said. “I guess I was on the road a lot more, finally doing some international touring and getting outside of Canada more, but other than that, I’m still living in Enfield, still making my records by myself in my home studio and kind of rolling the same way I always have.”
As usual, the father of two who once rapped about conquering a childhood speech impediment prefers on the new record to discuss the relatively minor everyday struggles he faces.
“Young Soul” finds the rapper confronting the good and bad of growing old, while radio-ready resilience anthem “The Day Doesn’t Die” is about forgiveness.
First single “That Ain’t Classy,” meanwhile, is a stinging swipe at egocentric pop stars whom Boyd observed, among other places, at last year’s Juno Awards (sample lyric: “I relate to real people, not these self-centred weirdos.”)
“Just seeing some people’s mind frames on what they think they are because their song’s on the radio, just the little things like that,” he said of the inspiration for the song.
“Me and my boys … we take this for what it is, we have fun. We take our music serious but we don’t take our celebrity status thing serious, and we see other people trying to front like they’re something big.”
Of course, if Boyd’s ego ever does swell, there’s always the Internet to knock him back down.
He says he likes to keep on top of underground hip hop, which means frequenting online message boards where his own music is a frequent topic of discussion not to mention vitriol-filled criticism, on occasion.
“If I see my name, I’m not just going to pass by it, and be scared of what people are saying,” he says.
“I’ll go in there, and I’ve got nothing to hide, so I’ll confront people too…. Too many people just sit on computers and are so depressed with their own lives that they try to diss somebody else, so they feel like they’re cool and their other Internet buddies are like, ‘Yeah, cool dude.’
“Some of them are like, ‘Oh my God, why would you be on here? Shouldn’t you be on a plane or something?’ It’s like, ‘Whatever, dude.’ I don’t think I’m bigger or anything more special than I was five years ago.
“More people know my music, but I’m still doing the same (things) I’ve been doing.”