The Swelly Season: Chiddy Bang Takes Over
CHIDDY BANG: NOAH “XAPHOON JONES” BERESIN (LEFT) AND CHIDERA “CHIDDY” ANAMEGE. PHOTO COURTESY OF VIRGIN/EMI.
Chiddy Bang are musical alchemists. The duo—Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege and Noah “Xaphoon Jones” Beresin—has accomplished the seemingly impossible musical task of turning the must un-hip hop music (think Sufjan Stevens and Belle & Sebastian) into veritable hip-hop gold. The group’s cleverly titled single, “Opposite of Adults,” which samples MGMT’s “Kids,” was a huge hit in the U.K., and led to collaborations with everyone from Q-Tip to Pharrell Williams—not to mention less heat from the people they were sampling.
Chiddy Bang’s first official EP, The Preview, is out this week and serves as a nine-song appetizer to their upcoming album The Swelly Life. Chiddy, who says that he mostly writes about average day-to-day activities, spoke to us while aboard the band’s tour bus. He even said that this interview could come up in a song—”I’m doing an interview in New Castle, something, something, something”—but we’re not holding our breath for a shout-out.
REBECCA PATTIZ: Hey, so where are you now?
CHIDERA “CHIDDY” ANAMEGE: I’m in New Castle, U.K. on the Tiny Tempah tour! What’s going on?
PATTIZ: How’s that going? Can you tell me a bit about Chiddy Bang’s relationship with the U.K.?
CHIDDY: You know, we’re signed to a U.K. label called Parlophone Records. They signed us back in March of 2010, and since then it’s been a crazy, crazy ride. We actually got signed on the London Eye. You know, the giant Ferris wheel.
PATTIZ: Do you think that the U.K. is more open to new music than the U.S. is?
CHIDDY: Yeah, I mean they’re definitely open to new music, and I think they’re definitely accepting of the blending of genres. Pretty much, the U.K. is always forward-thinking in terms of music, and not even just music—fashion, and things like that. And for us to be accepted there first, that definitely makes us feel good inside.
PATTIZ: Taking it back a bit, how did you and Xaphoon meet?
CHIDDY: We met in college [at Drexel University, in Philadelphia]. I was a business major, and Noah was a music-industry major. I was just trying to get into the studio and make tracks, and at Drexel there are actually on-campus studios, and the music industry kids are the kids that have the access to those. Once I figured that out, I was like, “I gotta get in there.” I had a next-door neighbor who was in the music-industry program, and he pretty much was friends with Noah, and he was like, “Yo, some of the shit he’s doing is dope, and you’re a good rapper. Why don’t you guys just link up and see what happens?” And that’s just really how it started, just an experiment, and having fun, recording random, random shit—whether it be like a Kanye sample, or a Radiohead sample, or Yelle. I had come up on a straight-up hip-hop background, but after working with him for a little while, I’ve been able appreciate different genres and different forms of music.
PATTIZ: So what kinds of music are you excited about now?
CHIDDY: Well, right now I’m in the U.K., so I’m sort of just trying to get what’s going on right here. I’m listening to Labrinth—he’s like a singer-songwriter dude that just makes crazy music, like his vocal takes are ridiculously strong. It has like a gospel feel to it. But if you want to take it to the American side of things, like rap, I gotta shout out my boys like Big Sean and XV. From the sort of classic standpoint, I’m definitely bumping Black Thought and The Roots. That’s my boy, I was with him the other day, so he’s going to get on some stuff with us for the new mixtape, new album. He’s always been like a mentor to us.
PATTIZ: What words of wisdom has he given you?
CHIDDY: You know, we used to open up for The Roots, go to New York and do the Highline jam sessions and stuff like that. And before every song, we would give long-ass introductions describing everything about the song, like where we made the shit, what we were thinking when we made it, if we were high, what we were doing. And the thing about The Roots is that they have one of the greatest live shows in hip-hop, like bam, bam, bam, like song, song, song, song. Just come in, do the song, do what you do, go to the next song, just keep it moving, keep it flowing, don’t really talk too much in between. That was a good bit of advice, and since then we’ve expanded the live show.
PATTIZ: Do you remember what your first live show was like?
CHIDDY: Our first actual, actual show was in a basement in Philly on Drexel’s campus. It was at a house party in a basement. I distinctly remember I had a little bit too much moonshine, and literally after the performance I threw up. I woke up where the house party was thrown, with a garbage bag next to me. So that was first show we ever did, and that was crazy. It was just like a hundred kids packing up in the basement, just getting drunk and fucked up and just having a good time. We try to bring that college basement party thing to everywhere we perform.
PATTIZ: You’ve really played all over the world since then. Do you have a favorite country to perform in?
CHIDDY: I always like going to Scotland. The first time I was there was back in like March or April, we opened up for this band called Hockey. When we were on that tour, that was the first time I’d seen Scotland—there were so many castles and shit, it was pretty much medieval. And from that point on, I was like, okay, I like this place. And the people are cool; the girls are kind of cute.
PATTIZ: So the preview of the new album just came out as an EP. What can we expect from the The Swelly Life?
CHIDDY: I think we’re going to keep the same formula, but we’re taking it to the next level because we’re coming up with our own original shit. The album’s going to have original production, original compositions, Xaphoon’s going to make some original beats. And expect a lot of collaborations. We just got into the whole collaborating thing, but expect collaborations with dope U.K. singers. In the past we sampled a lot of these cool people, because we didn’t have the resources to actually get them on stuff. But now the next step is to actually get in the studio with these people and do work with them.
CHIDDY BANG’S EP THE PREVIEW IS OUT NOW. THEIR DEBUT FULL-LENGTH, THE SWELLY LIFE, WILL BE RELEASED IN EARLY 2011.