Review : Chiddy Bang - Breakfast
ConsequenceofsoundThere is no one like me,” sings Swedish band Icona Pop in a sample on the first single from Chiddy Bang’s studio debut, Breakfast. The chorus of “Mind Your Manners” shamelessly attempts to set rapper Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege and DJ/producer Noah “Xaphoon Jones” Beresin apart from their hip-hop-meets-alternative peers. Barring the children’s choir that sounds all too similar to Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E.”, the Philadelphia duo proves far more original here than on previous EPs and mixtapes.
The biggest digression from Chiddy Bang’s earlier work is a lack of well-known samples. In the past, they’ve fused hip-hop with the likes of Radiohead, Passion Pit, and MGMT to produce party-inducing songs, such as the Matt and Kim-based “Cameras”, which surfaced on last summer’s Peanut Butter and Swelly.
Despite the lack of an indie presence on the new album, the duo took an old-school approach to sample selection on the most enjoyable song, “Ray Charles”. The legendary blues musician’s piano makes for an upbeat retro track that’s addicting and impossible to sit still throughout. However, the album begins to fade shortly after, and the second half can’t compare to earlier tracks like “Breakfast” and “Handclaps & Guitars”, which showcase Beresin’s production skills with fresh, buoyant beats....full text
BbcWhen is a debut album not a debut album? When it’s a free mixtape. Broken via MySpace, Philadelphia rapper/MC Chidera ‘Chiddy’ Anamege and his studio-wiz partner Noah ‘Xaphoon Jones’ Bersin made waves in 2009 with The Swelly Express, whose mix of originals and samples included the irresistible MGMT-raiding Opposite of Adults. The Sufjan Stevens-sampling All Things Go was even better. 2010’s mini-follow-up Air Swell embraced La Roux, Ellie Goulding, Tinie Tempah and Gorillaz in a smash-and-grab of UK rhythm aces. Ye olde trick of hooks sweetening hip hop’s blunter impact felt fresh for a change. But as an official debut three years after The Swelly Express, the virtually sample-free Breakfast has a lot to prove.
Clearly Chiddy Bang don’t just know a good hook, they can fashion one too, as Breakfast’s lead single Ray Charles shows; it’s symptomatic of their way of combining something insanely catchy and just as brief, but the soulful piano riff oozing retro charm in the style of Raphael Saadiq (likewise the Blue Brothers-referencing video) is evidence of something much more sophisticated. VV Brown’s (uncredited) vocal on Happening is another slice of soul-pop bounce, but it underlines the obvious Chiddy formula, of hooks so simple they resemble playground chants and nursery rhymes.
In the one sample-based track, Mind Your Manners, it’s the turn of haughty Swedish electro-pop girl duo Icona Pop’s single Manners, a great counterpart to Chiddy’s swagger and punch. The slower jam Does She Love Me? has a perfectly formed three-note hook that sounds like a robot child, as if Chiddy are only content in a state of arrested adolescence. The fact they sampled MGMT’s Kids for Opposite of Adults doesn’t seem to be a coincidence....full text
BuzzinemusicVirgin Records) Breakfast is an interesting title for an album. It suggests something sweet and sugary. It also suggests something to put in your head to start the day. Both of those descriptions would be accurate for Chiddy Bang's debut full-length album. It's got sweet, joyful pop hooks, with clever wordplay bubbling underneath. As lyricist Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege puts it in “Happening,” “...I'm good with words, yeah, I got that language arts / Cruisin' by the ocean 'cause I know this is a game of sharks / Music and money, bet I never let it change my heart.”
Chiddy Bang is Anamege and Noah “Xaphoon” Jones Beresin. The duo has been tirelessly touring colleges and festivals such as Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Bamboozle, Bonnaroo, Wireless Festival, Glastonbury, and Electric Forest Festival. Their music combines hip hop with pop and indie hooks, sampling artists like Radiohead, Sufjan Stevens, Passion Pit, MGMT, and Yelle.
One of the best samples on Breakfast is Swedish band Icona Pop's “Manners” in “Mind Your Manners.” It's such a killer jam to begin with, and Chiddy Bang skillfully weaves it into a composition that feels new, despite using the same chord structure. Anamege spins half-serious tales like “Junior high school, I had a crush on the principal / I guess I was turned on by the leadership,” and finishes with “So tell a hater here's the slammer / I know they hating on us, but mind your manners.” It would be a remarkable accomplishment to listen to this song and not feel exhilarated.
Most of Chiddy Bang's lyrics are tongue-in-cheek. Lines like “We just smoke a lot of tree; it's good for the economy,” are meant to make you smile more than anything else. Ironically, this attitude lends Chiddy Bang a lot more credibility than the pompous MCs who rap about how seriously and deeply they think, not to mention the ones who won't shut up about how hard and dangerous they are. Chiddy and Xaphoon come across as good guys who are more than willing to take the piss out of themselves. Sure, they have the inflated grandiosity that's a prerequisite of party music, but they mainly seem like impetuous kids who are just in it for a good time. In many ways, they're reaching back to the roots of hip hop: kids on the street spitting rhymes for the sheer joy of it.
Does that mean Chiddy Bang can't get serious? No, sir. “Does She Love Me” tells a sad story of unrequited love. “And why the fantasy so far from the truth, huh? / Running in circles playing Duck, Duck, Goose, huh? … Does she love me? No, sir / Does she want me? No, sir / I think she hates me.” This harsh emotional realism brings to mind OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. Everyone loves a hard-luck romantic, and Chiddy's rueful delivery is nothing if not charming....full text
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