Chiddy Bang Introduce Their New Brand of Hip-Hop
Meet Chiddy Bang, the Philly-based duo of 19-year olds who are perking up ears and commanding attention with their progressive blend of hip-hop, indie and electronic music. Producer Noah "Xaphoon Jones" Beresin and rapper Chidera "Chiddy" Anamege, dropped their first mixtape 'The Swelly Express' last Fall and have since maneuvered their way through the college concert circuit, graduating to a 20-city UK tour. The former Drexel University students will kick off their first headlining US tour in June, following the success of their debut single 'Opposite of Adults.' The song -- a raucous sample of MGMT's 'Kids' -- has already earned a spot as iTunes' 'Music Video of The Week,' and will be featured on their four-track EP of the same title, which debuts on June 1. Their first studio album is slated to hit stores in late August, but until then, don't be surprised if you hear more of Chiddy rhyming over Xaphoon's infectious beats, chopped from bands like Passion Pit, the Gorillaz and Radiohead.
The BoomBox: You met each other at Drexel, but how did you start making music together?
Chiddy: I had a neighbor who was [working] in the studio with Xaphoon while I was trying to get into the studio. I kept telling him, 'Yo, let me get into the studio' and finally he was like, 'I've got a friend named Noah, he makes beats and you guys should link up and make some music.' He introduced me, and Noah had this beat he chopped up that was a Weezer sample, and that became the first song we ever did. It was called 'On Our Way,' and from there we just started rocking and making more tracks.
Xaphoon: I was an engineer. I was recording a lot of rock bands, but I had also been making lots and lots of beats since 10th grade and DJing a lot too.
The BoomBox: On your mixtape track 'All Things Go,' you rhyme about never paying attention or showing up to class. Is that true?
Chiddy: Never! ADD Intense. We would be sophomores now, but we took a little... academic hiatus. But I finished my freshman year before I did that.
Xaphoon: We were missing a lot school during the week because we were in the studio. That way, if we could [record] during classes, by the end of the day we could get it on people's iPods so, that when the weekend rolled around, it would get played at parties. That was all part of our strategy.
The BoomBox: Do you feel like you'll just go back to school if you need to?
Chiddy: Yeah, pretty much. It's always going to be there.
Xaphoon: It got to a point at the end of last year where we were playing shows in New York and in Maine and having finals the next day. One night we had a show in Brooklyn and I missed the last bus back to take my physics final and that's when I called my parents and I was like 'Hey, I don't know if I'm doing to do too well this term.' They were like, 'Listen, we knew it wasn't going to be long before you dropped out to do music.' They knew that was coming for a while.
The BoomBox: Xaphoon, you studied Music Production at Drexel, did that help to shape the way you create beats?
Xaphoon: I guess when you get down to it, it's really about songwriting and we didn't learn too much [about that] there. At Drexel you could either do the technology side of music, the law side, or the business side and I was doing technology. It was definitely nice to have lots of smart professors and nice studios there to get the technology aspect of a hit down pact, but we knew after a couple weeks that we were probably not gonna be needing much schooling... Not to be cocky or anything.
The BoomBox: Your beats are eclectic because you're sampling bands like Passion Pit and MGMT. Where does that indie influence come from?
Chiddy: Well, Xaphoon is an indie guy...
Xaphoon: I've been recording indie bands [for a while]. I rented a warehouse across the street when I was in high school, set up all kinds of microphones and drum machines and all these local Philly indie bands that nobody's ever heard of like Cat's Cradle would come through. I'd record their demos and we would try to sell them. I learned so much about engineering and I took that indie influence with me when I went into making beats. Chidera was initially very unfamiliar with it, but the more beats I make, the more he surprises me with how familiar he gets with it.
Chiddy: We were touring with an indie band in the UK called Hockey and I'm a fan of them now. It's crazy how easily you can become familiar with a sound, if you keep hearing it. Now I love indie. I'm on that train heavy.
The BoomBox: How would you explain the sound you produce?
Xaphoon: I like to call it hip-hop-electronic-afro-beat-club-pop. It's kind of a mouthful. But seriously, we really don't try to put too many labels on it -- it's definitely hip-hop with a solid electronic and pop influence.
The BoomBox: Classes weren't your thing, but you built a solid fan base through the college circuit. Was that an easy path for landing gigs?
Chiddy: It was natural, because essentially that's where we came from. When we were at Drexel, we were going to Maine and doing shows; we were going to Vermont and Swarthmore, a small school right outside of Philly, which was our first big college show. That was one of the first times we had people at a show that knew the words [to our songs] and it was a crazy experience. But while we were out there doing shows, we'd still have to juggle doing a paper that was due tomorrow. It's a crazy shock, being able to do that and then go back to reality and have class tomorrow. So the college thing, that's sort of where we started off and now we're doing the same thing but it's amplified. It's the same formula; it's just one hundred times better now.
The BoomBox: Back in February, Kanye West gave you the co-sign on his blog when he posted your video 'Opposite of Adults.' Did that change things?
Xaphoon: When that happened we were playing a show for New York Fashion Week and my friend started texting me, 'You're on Kanye's blog!' I was like no way, it's probably an error, so I hit up another person and they were like, 'Yep, it's true.' We had to verify with like ten people before we actually believed that we were on there.
Chiddy: Ain't that crazy though? Kanye West? I didn't believe it.
The BoomBox: And where does The Roots' Black Thought fall into the equation of your lives?
Chiddy: 30th Street Train Station, [in Philadelphia] we bumped into him there.
Xaphoon: We played a show, came back and we were at the train station when we ran into him. Chiddy was just like 'Yo, yo, you've gotta check us out.' We never thought he would, but he hit us up a couple days later, after Chiddy followed up. He was like, 'You guys handled MGMT, you're doing something different,' and that's how he kind of become our mentor. He's on one of our songs [on the EP], he gave us a verse. He was amazing, definitely one of our heroes.
Chiddy: He came to the studio, took time out and dropped a verse. It was the most surreal stuff ever. He's taken us out to eat sushi and all sorts of crazy foods. He talked to us, mentored us about the industry and certain people in the game and stuff like that. He's like our OG if you will.
Xaphoon: He's just our cool uncle.
The BoomBox: Is the upcoming album going to feature predominantly sample-based tracks, or original beats?
Xaphoon: Our 'Opposite of Adults' EP is a mixture between our sample singles and some originals, but the album that's gonna come out at the end of the summer, [Aug 24], is really what u guys should look for. It's coming out amazing. Like really amazing. It's a mixture of amazing samples and really crazy original stuff that I've been doing and just taking it to the next level.
The BoomBox: Are you just as comfortable making original beats as you are with the samples?
Xaphoon: Definitely, samples were speaking to me when I had nothing except a laptop and all I could do was chop and cut beats, but now we have studios and instruments.
The BoomBox: Any collaborations on the album?
Xaphoon: It's self-produced; it's just me at the boards. We're gonna have some guest producers come in every once in awhile, but for now it's just me. Every week in April, Thursday, Friday, Saturday were all shows and Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday was all in the studio recording.
Chiddy: We're traveling like crazy now, but it's gonna be amazing though.