Review Summary: An understated masterpiece from 2010 that deserves all the praise of last year's best albums.
I make so many promises to myself to write reviews for new albums. Yet it seems like none of those ideas ever come into fruition. ‘Nineteen Ninety Now’, the collaboration between Buckwild and Celph Titled, was one of them. Hyping this album was my main goal for a couple months on Sputnik, remaining blissfully unaware of the existence of other new hip-hop albums. I thought it would be overlooked amongst all the hip hop albums of last year and it was overlooked. It fell to the dizzying heights of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
and the invigorating Sir Lucious Left Foot
. What was left was an understated piece of work with a few flaws that prevented it from being album of the year. Later since its release, it has grown to have a spot as one of the masterpieces of last year like it rightfully deserves. ‘Nineteen Ninety Now’ is like a good food or wine that gets better with age and not a lot else can step to it.
Celph Titled has never been the best emcee in the rap game, but he certainly isn’t the worst. His manic flow, complete lack of regard for the beat he’s rapping on and punchline heavy lyrics have earned him good and bad criticisms. On ‘Nineteen Ninety Now’ Celph does a whole flip with his flow and draws upon a heavily laid back, relaxed style of rapping similar to later era Snoop Dogg. On tracks such as Step Correctly
and Hardcore Data
Celph rolls smoothly over the beats, letting his easy going cadences and relaxed flow match the beat down to a T. Lyrically he remains as vicious as ever, with a few switch ups here and there. Most of his lines are still punchline heavy, with lyrics such as “Pulled out those almond colored breasts and left a chestnut” on the glorious sex boast ***master Sex
and “I’m sending lead back like its Chinese toys” on the punchline heavy Tingin’
. However, Celph delivers on a few tracks with some storytelling and reminiscing about his past with hip-hop. Diversity is certainly a key element with an album title like ‘Nineteen Ninety Now’, which is pretty much a straight shooting sign of what you’re going to get.
And you do get what the title implies, 90’s rap throwbacks over 90’s beats. Producer Buckwild went through his back catalog of beats and picked out some of the best tracks he made from 1994-1995 for Celph to rap over. Rollicking bass heavy cuts mix and match with airy, piano cuts and horn heavy grooves. Scratched in choruses are also present, and some songs have more than one beat. Like the song Swashbuckling
, which has 4 different rappers rapping over 4 very different beats. It seems kind of gimmicky though, to make a throwback album with old school beats instead of hearing something creative and new. Some of the guest spots sound like they would be better suited over newer productions, like Vinnie Paz and R.A. the Rugged Man. Others sound perfect over the 90’s boom bap, like the always good Apathy and the surprisingly good Chino XL, who delivers what is probably one of the best verses ever of his crappy job he calls a career. It’s pretty obvious that the 90’s rappers sound perfect over these beats as well.
While it is a strong album most of the time, ‘Nineteen Ninety Now’ is not without its flaws like most rap albums. The over reliance on a gimmick hurts some of the songs on this album, such as Time Travels On
with its uninspired Majik Most and Dutchmassive verses strolling through a pretty terrible, almost nonexistent beat. I also would’ve liked to hear Celph rapping more with fewer guest spots. While it has a semi-weak gimmick and it attempts something new by using something old, “Nineteen Ninety Now’ is still a strong album regardless of either of those factors. Celph Titled still has yet to make the masterpiece we all know is in him, but for now, this still remains a solid cut from last year.