We all hear everyday complaints regarding the 2012 rapper cliché. Money, cars, clothes, girls, etc. is all these “typical” rappers spit about. Whether it’s true or not, the duo named Chiddy Bang is an exception to that rule. In fact, they’re the opposite. You would have to search hard to find two more unique figures in hip-hop than MC Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege and beat maker extraordinaire Noah “Xaphoon Jones” Beresin. Their uniqueness stems to the fact their music isn’t your traditional old-school hip-hop sound.
Interview by Michael Nguyen
The alternative hip-hop duo from Philidelphia, who met through a mutual friend during their University years, are known for their fusion/hybrid sound as well as sampling of artists outside the realms of rap. Those artists include MGMT, and Ellie Goulding just to name a few. The duo developed an international fan base based off their commercial success in “Breakfast,” their debut studio album, which included hits such as “Ray Charles,” and the first single, “Mind Your Manners.” While back on their homeland, they made a name for themselves based off their underground/mixtape success through mixtapes such as The Swelly Express, Air Swell, and Peanut Butter and Swelly. KarenCivil.com caught up with one half of the duo in Chiddy, as we talked about touring life, the lost art of freestyling, meeting Drake’s dad, and a possible Drake collaboration.
Hey Chiddy, how are you?
Good, man. Just wrapped up a photo shoot and we’re about to head off to Australia for this party.
Man, you guys travel a lot. How would you compare fan bases between international fans vs. American fans?
I think with us, we’re grateful we had the opportunity to break into these foreign territories in different ways. We find in those [international] territories, we have chart success, or radio single success. That’s a different animal. You go out there, do shows, play records and the fans are familiar with them. Over here [North America], it’s more like a mixtape, underground following that’s in tune with the previous works. Just recently people started getting in tune with our single off the album, Breakfast, and the single now is “Mind Your Manners.” We’re trying to push that.
So are you aiming for more mainstream success in America?
Yeah, I guess that’s currently a goal. Working these singles and trying to get the spins up. It’s a lot different being on a major label vs. when we started out making music in our dorm rooms making all these records we wanted to put out. Now with the label, it’s different because we have to play the game in that sort of sense, but we’re still going to do it. We’ll let you know that turns out.
But do you think a label takes away that artistic expression or do you think it’s better to be independent where you have full artistic freedom to do whatever you want without the label heads pressuring you?
I mean, the independent form is definitely a desirable position when it makes sense. It’s something I’m a fan of because we’re just making music. When you’re making music, people admire you just for that and you don’t have to deal with the other stuff. I think that’s definitely cool but we’re at the point where we’re exploring. We just dropped our debut album and we’re 21-years-old and trying to figure out what the next move is.
Since the touring schedule is always hectic, do you guys ever get the chance to explore, sight see, shit like that? Or is it just do a show and bounce to the next city?
It’s usually do a show and bounce to the next city the next morning, but a few times we would explore and go see some stuff. We recently did three shows in Germany and when we were out there, we went to the Berlin Wall, which was down the street from the venue. It’s cool when you have the time to walk around and see things. We were in Amsterdam, and I was really sick, but we walked to our hotel and stumbled upon some coffee shops. [Laughs] It’s more of a community atmosphere out there. It’s very social.
What’s your favorite city to visit?
I like a bunch of different places. The UK is always a place where I can find something I like for three days.
You met Drake’s dad in Memphis, right?
Yeah. Man, it was really weird because I was with a couple guys from Memphis who had come to my show and show some support. They happen to be relatives of some old-time Memphis singers who were in this group with Drake’s dad. I was out downtown where the bars were at and they were like, “Yo, you want to meet Drake’s dad? He’s right there.” I saw him and he was just sitting down right there at the table sipping on a beer and smoothly conversing with a very attractive human being. I was very proud of him.
What about your dad? Is music big in your family?
My family is more Nigerian. We’re deeply rooted in listening to Oriental Brothers –basically only things people from there would really know. Not even from Nigeria, I’m talking about from our tribe. They grew up listening to that. It’s very traditional, uplifting, precussion, things like that. I grew up with that being played in the household. It’s really more of a first generation, come to America and get your hustle on and work hard-type of situation. They ideally wanted me to be a lawyer but…
Going back to the Drake thing. Do you ever see a potential collaboration between Drizzy and Chiddy Bang?
Of course. We know his tour manager and he’s super cool. Every time we run into him, he’s super cool and just managing everything like a G. We’re Drake fans. We’re open to collaborating with him. With people like that, it’s more like are they open to working with us.
Does Noah still bring his iPad and makes beats on it 24/7?
With the iPad thing, a lot of people saw him playing with it during radio promos and stuff. People think he’s constantly walking around with an iPad. It’s more like he’s constantly walking around with a laptop and every time we’re in a car during a stop, he’ll be on there and tinker. He definitely tinkers.
And how often do you freestyle over his beats?
Pretty often but I’ve trained myself to know when those moments are. It’s good. I’ve been getting a lot of good stuff and you’ll see some new material very soon.
Do you think freestyling is a lost art?
I mean, definitely. With freestyling, very rarely do people go off of the dome and come up with stuff. I thought that was what it was. I thought it was off the top and create something spontaneous in the spare of the moment. A lot of people write stuff down, perform it and call it a freestyle. I come from that New Jersey, brick city attitude of ciphering and spitting raps on the phone with your boys and playing instrumentals over the phone.
And what about diversity in music, more specifically hip-hop. Do you think hip-hop should have more crossover records?
I think we’re moving to a point where artists are more open to things like that. But that has always been part of the dynamic that we’ve been able to do. We always try to get on tracks with people you least expect us to be on tracks with. We got a record with Pat from Train. We got Pat singing about sex over some 8-bit shit. We always look for juxtapositions and make people scratch their heads and be like, “Wow. Why didn’t I think of that.”
Is that more of a risk?
I think our fans are definitely up for it because with the majority of our fans, they listened to it as we came in. We came in from the school of taking people’s things and putting them in new contexts. We would take things from new genres and sampling different genres. That’s definitely what Noah brings to the table. He has always been about that. With me, it’s sort of me bringing my hip-hop spin to it.
But do you think that since Chiddy Bang’s sound is unique, it makes it easier to collab with someone like Icona Pop than say, Rick Ross?
Yeah I definitely think it depends on the artist. If they’re known for doing weird shit, then cool. If it’s not, then it might look a little weird and people would be like, “Oh, they just paid a bunch of money for that artist to do that.”
What are you currently working on now that we can expect to hear in the future?
Right now we’re working on a mixtape. I don’t want to drop too many details on it but it’s going to be us going back to the roots. It’s definitely going to be a lot of soul. A lot of break beats stuff. Different music is what I’m trying to say. It’s all about the energy and feeling.
What about a target date?
This summer. Around the end of this summer.
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