Know thy Celph: an interview with Celph Titled

The landmine lieutenant, in the mother-fucking house! If 2000-whatever was the year you’d expect one of the best 90’s hip-hop albums to drop, well then you’re kind of right. The Florida native, Celph Titled, teamed up with the D.I.T.C. beat doctor, Buckwild to drop what is probably the best album of 2010. Yeah, pretty bold statement but when you add up 3 years of leg work from Celph and over a decade and 1/2 (+) of Buckwild beats marinating like good Cuban rum, then you can’t front that Nineteen Ninety Now was where you needed to be in 2010 and if you front then you’re dripping with wack juice and you can’t get it off…

According to your online bio, it was a Fat Boys video that sparked that light, which one was it? I can’t front my all time favorite Fat Boy video is “All You Can Eat”…
The video was “Fat Boys” when they were called the Disco 3. I got a chance to re-flip that song for a joint I did with Big Scoob aka Scoob Lover. “All You Can Eat” is definitely a great video. R.I.P. Buffy…

You had a little stint in NYC during the 90s – a lot of good shit was going on in that decade. How did you feel being placed (right smack-dab) in the middle of what was probably the best decade in hip-hop to date?
It was an experience that molded me into who I am today. I was still a teenager when I moved up there so it was an impressionable time of my life. I am disappointed that I missed the early and mid-90’s NYC experience, but I made it up there in the late 90’s when there was a great independent scene and it was still an important era to be a legitimate part of.

Who/what were your influences during that time period that pushed you to keep doing it?
My own circle of friends and artists kept me motivated. I was surrounded by so much talent. Apathy was coming to the city every week, you had Rise, Lord Digga, J-Zone, my man Guttamouf, a lot of cats we cliqued up with. Plus rolling with artists like 7L & Esoteric and Jedi Mind Tricks outside of NY, and seeing how they sold out shows and sold records, made me know I was doing the right thing and being accepted by the right people. Outside of my group associations, there were just so many cool brothers that I came up with in the late 90’s/early 2000’s NY scene. It was guys like C-Rayz Walz, Punch & Words, Percee P, Poison Pen, PackFM, Wiseguy & Gaston, a lot more I’m forgetting. But you could catch us all at the same events every week.

How/when did you first meet up with Buckwild?
In 2007 we began building on the album. I met Buck through my man DL who has been a longstanding DITC-associated cohort. He was working on some things with Lord Finesse and had helped land a couple situations for Buckwild, so when this idea was brought to him, based on the people involved, it was on like Donkey Kong. So big ups to DL and No Sleep.

No matter how you paint it there will always be two sides of hip-hop, the bullshit and the real shit. The real shit is that special mixture shit that is seasoned with longevity – without a doubt “Nineteen Ninety Now” will stand the test of time. How special was finishing the album up for you?
It was the most important thing in my life. It took up 3 years of my life in order to get it perfect. Albums this powerful aren’t just whipped up in a couple weeks. All this shit had to marinate and the beats from the old 90’s disks had aged like fine wine. I had a lot of those movie quotes and interlude ideas saved up for almost 10 years. The time had finally come to put all my crazy ideas into one project.

Growing up in a half Cuban and German household, I’m sure you heard a lot of different music – what types of music do you appreciate besides hip-hop?
I like a lot of 80’s music, whether it be rock, pop or soul. Classical music is my other favorite.

What do you have cooking in the lab for the next project?
My next album is called “The Fresh Prince of Hell’s Lair” and I’m just trying to get all the beats together for it now. I have a handful of songs written, but might interchange the beats on a few of them. I’ll be producing most of it myself, and bringing back the old “producer” Celph Titled that I was once more known for. I’m trying to keep it in-house, definitely got Apathy producing some stuff on there. Might get a 2011 non-90’s heater from Buck. You know, I’m just trying to follow up with a bangin’ album and bring listeners to my current sound. Look out for new Demigodz and Army of the Pharaohs projects as well.

Finally, what do you currently have on rotation in the music department?
I only really listen to music when I’m in the whip, so when I’m ridin’ out I like to wild out to some bass heavy shit. Like some shit that sounds like nothing like the music I make. I like to keep it this way so that I never get subconsciously influenced by other artists making hip hop that’s in my particular “real hip hop” genre. So my system stay bumping some Criminal Manne, Yo Gotti, 6 Tre G and Killa Kyleon. Love that shit, for real. And I don’t ride around with the windows down so this shit is for me only, I don’t do the captain cool guy thing where you trying to bump some dopeboy music and look hard. Bosses don’t do that. Only time I put my window down is when I’m at the bank drive-thru depositing a check or 3.