12 November, 2010@6:00 pm
Celph Titled has never really had a proper solo LP. The Gatalog was a bullet-ridden collection of just about every song he’d recorded during the heyday or the indie hip-hop movement, while his collaborative album with J-Zone, Every Hogg Has It’s Day was a concept record that only allowed him half the spotlight. His latest, Nineteen Ninety Now, is the most introspective yet, this time collaborating with legendary producer, Buckwild.
Buck has had some major beats in his career – his biggest hit ever being Black Rob’s “Whoa”, while his second biggest check-writer is likely Biggie’s “I Got A Story To Tell”. But prior to these two beats, Buckwild’s sound was closer to that of Pete Rock and Showbiz, crafting a multitude of classic tracks for just about every relevant artist in the 1990′s. When hip-hop’s sound changed, so did Buckwild’s, but with Celph’s Nineteen Ninety Now, he raids the vaults, crafting an LP of unused beats from mid-90′s era.
And it’s just as good as anything he released back then.
From the onset, Celph opens the album with “The Deal Maker”, immediately sending a flood of memories back to longtime listeners that forgot what hip-hop’s supposed to sound like. This track packs a hollowed out bassline, a sampled, echoing horn section, and hard hitting snares, while Celph spits humorous punch-rhymes and taking pot shots at the competition. Songs like “Out To Lunch” (feat. Treach) and “Eraserheads” (feat. Vinnie Paz) are of the more “jeep-beat” variety, conjuring up images of Bubblegoose jackets and Timberland boots, which Celph still probably rocks on the regular. In other spots, like “Tingin’” and “Hardcore Data” we get the classic sound of east coast street hop (think Redman and Black Moon, not Ruff Ryders and Bad Boy).
Topically, we get more of Celph Titled than we’ve ever seen before. The humorous “Fuckmaster Sex” finds him lightheartedly talking up his game over a beat that might make Pete Rock envious, while “Wack Juice” finds him tearing apart today’s skewed hip-hop scene, with no apologies. “Miss Those Days” reminisces on the 90′s era, but his most introspective moment comes on “I Could Write A Rhyme”, an autobiographical account of his career thus far, touching upon everything from beard-dye (?) to beefing with Cage.
Guest appearances are aplenty, and perfectly executed. Half of them are relics of the 90′s, appropriately placed on the album, while others are members of Celph’s immediate crew. Of course the aforementioned “Out To Lunch” grabs Naughty By Nature’s Treach, while “Mad Ammo” is a rhyme competition between Celph, F.T., and R.A. The Rugged Man. “Swashbuckling” is a four part “Speak Ya Clout”-esque posse cut with each Apathy, Ryu, and Esoteric, and “Styles Ain’t Raw” again employs Apathy, along with Chino XL. The most impressive moment of all however is “There Will Be Blood”, where Celph amazingly assembles a line-up including Sadat X, Grand Puba, A.G., O.C., and Diamond D. The only thing that snaps the listener back to modern times is Sadat X’s mention of Obama, which in itself is surreal.
Are their problems with this record? Few and far in between. At times, Celph’s punch-rhymes are cringe-worthy (“I’ll bust a nut in a hogie and create a new ‘sub’ species”), but nine-times out of ten he’s either making the listener laugh out loud, or amazing them with his wordplay. Others may complain that the novelty of a 90′s hip-hop album in 2010 wears thin over it’s 17-track, 80 minute run, but we’d argue there’s not enough music like Buck’s left, so enjoy until time’s up (no pun intended).
Ultimately, Nineteen Ninety Now is a success on many levels. Many have tried to emulate the sound of the 1990′s throughout the indie hip-hop era, which has resulted in a lot of unauthentic, half-assed copies that have done little to progress the music or culture. This however, is the real deal. Many times we see artists try to revisit their past glories with disastrous results (Bacdafucup 2, anyone?), but this one actually pulls it off. Given the fact that many of these beats are from ’94 or so (obviously tuned up a bit for modern release), it’s shocking reminder of a lost era, one that many of today’s generation weren’t apart of and have no idea even exists. Do the knowledge.
In conjunction with The Well Versed.
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