Nineteen Ninety Now Celph Titled & Buckwild
There’s something inherently depressing about 1990s hip-hop nostalgia, but Celph Titled comes close to validating hip-hop’s weakness for looking longingly into the sepia-toned past for inspiration with Nineteen Ninety Now, a collaborative project with D.I.T.C. stalwart Buckwild that finds Celph rapping over previously unused beats Buckwild made in the mid-’90s. In his quest to bring hip-hop back to its essence, Celph Titled has tapped a battle-scarred veteran who laces his demented tracks with soulful leftovers from the halcyon days when roughnecks like Black Moon and quasi-bohemians like De La Soul embraced jazz.
Celph Titled falls distinctly on the roughneck side of the equation, though his gun talk and sexual boasts are delivered with tongue planted firmly in cheek, as when he brags of a conquest, “It wasn’t a MySpace time stamp that she had the last login.” Celph is a one-man party for much of the album, but in the final third he brings in a team of ringers from hip-hop’s golden age for reinforcement, including Grand Puba, Sadat X, Diamond, O.C., and A.G. Celph’s over-the-top shtick is so amusing, it almost feels like a letdown when he abandons his persona and punchlines to wax personal and intimate on “Time Travels On” and “Miss Those Days.” It’s one of the tightest, funniest, and most consistent hip-hop albums of the year, even if it could easily be mistaken for a lost classic from 1994.