TRUE TALES OF THE ROAD: Classified’s brush with greatness
If you’ve never been in one, know that it is a place where men pee standing right next to one another. Some suffer “stage fright,” and are unable to relax enough to let it flow in the presence of other males, and are thus relegated to omega status within the tribe. One man will sometimes initiate conversation with another whom he doesn’t know, a clear breach of urinary protocol. If there are instances of one male “checking out” the genitalia of another – purely for comparison purposes – mum’s the word. The men’s room is a place of subtle male bonding, of awkward encounters, an odd place for a true tale of the road, to be sure, but it’s the one that MC Classified comes up with.
Performing Saturday at the Starlite Room (details here) behind his new album Hand Shakes and Middle Fingers, the Nova Scotia rapper whose real name is Luke Boyd recalls a gig in Nelson, BC, around 2004. It was “right when the fame thing was just starting to happen,” he says, which makes it extra weird. With a straight-up Eminem-sort of style (most famous white rapper, so yeah, it’s a pretty easy comparison), Classified was already known for such mash-ups as “Hey Now,” which he rapped rhymes over the popular Crowded House song Don’t Dream It’s Over. Anyway, he’s doing some all-ages show, maybe 500-capacity, and there’s no green room. So about half hour before show time, Classified goes out – sans bodyguards – to use the public facilities.
Let him tell it, “So I’m using the urinal and this kid’s beside me and he looks over, glances twice and he’s like, ‘oh, shit, Classified!’ – and completely passes out! His eyes roll back in his head, he faints, cracks his head off the thing, and ends up on the floor bleeding and everything. I guess he was star-struck or something. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t pick the kid up or nothing. I was still pissing. So I was like, what the fuck? There were other kids there who helped him right away. Then one of the kids grabbed security, which was right out the door. They helped him up, helped him with his pants, and then they had to take the kid out, get him checked out and send him home.
“He was cool. I mean, he was upset he had to leave ‘cause he was bleeding and shit. He was kind of yelling, ‘Class! I can’t miss your show, man!”
This strange restroom encounter has stuck with Classified to this day. Nothing quite like that has happened to him since, he admits. He still doesn’t have bodyguards, but his two younger brothers are on tour with him. One is his “hype-man” – which means back-up singer to all you “non hip-hop people” – and the other is the guitarist, which might make non hip-hop people exclaim, “a rap group got a guitar?!” His brothers watch his back.
“They’d better,” Class says.
No word on whether the star-struck kid is still a fan.
If the reader will allow a personal tale about a Brush With Greatness here: I was in Nashville covering some music awards show from backstage, and during a break, I went to use the men’s room. As I finished and zipped, I turned around to see the man waiting to use the urinal after me. It was frickin’ KENNY ROGERS. I was dumbstruck. No fainting, but I was stuck. I couldn’t shake his hand at that particular moment for obvious reasons, and he was blocking the way to the sink. I couldn’t even think of a good line, like, “Hey, it’s the Gambler! I’d shake your hand, but …” and then we’d share a hearty laugh. But no, I completely ignored poor Kenny Rogers as I brushed by him. Maybe he thought I didn’t know who he was. My big chance was lost.