Chiddy Bang has felt the red hot glare of stardom. The American electro hip-hop duo comprised of 19-year-olds, witty rhymer Chidera and genre-mixing producer Noah became successful imports in the United Kingdom in early 2010, scoring a major hit with their infectious MGMT sampled track “Opposite of Adults.” Now the EMI-backed act, co-signed by the likes of Kanye West and the Roots’ Black Thought, are out to conquer the U.S. market this month. Can two quirky dropouts from Philadelphia’s Drexel University become a household name in their home country? One thing's for sure. They’ll have fun trying. —Keith Murphy
VIBE: How shocked are you at the success of your single “Opposite of Adults” blowing up in the U.K. first?
Noah: It’s been crazy. The label was kind of scared of how forward we were with our sampling. Sampling is a very touchy subject in an industry that’s kind of stuck for cash right now. They were all about us as a group, but they were asking us to change up our style. And they weren’t seeing our vision. It took a UK label, Parlophone Records, who has the Beastie Boys and Gorillaz out in London to really be like, “Hey, we get the vision you’re going for, we get the music that you want to make. Let’s clear a sample, make a video and let’s see what happens.” They really took a willingness to experiment. But one thing that I’ve noticed is the UK crowds are very open minded to the blending of genres, which is really good for us because we do that so much in our music. They definitely go crazy there for electronic music and that broad term. It’s only really started infiltrating America in the last couple of years. We can’t wait to translate what’s gone on over there to the U.S.
How is it performing in front of the U.K. crowds?
Noah: It’s been great. We did a little mini-tour with this band Hockey.
Chidera: Yeah, we are going to headline our first tour. In May we're going to go back and play 21 shows.
Being that your base is hip-hop and you're from the East Coast, why did you decide to go the electronica rap route?
Chidera: When I first started off as a freshman in Drexel with this Chiddy Bang thing, I had no idea what I was going to step into. My whole idea was just going to rap and then Noah comes along and he’s like, “Let’s chop up indie samples.” That was our whole thing. Our first song was a Weezer track we chopped up. It was just crazy how we put it together on MySpace and people responded to it.
Noah: I’m influenced by the DJ Premier’s, the Neptunes and the J Dilla’s. I was always trying to push the boundaries and do something different. And it wasn’t until I met Chidera that I was like, You know what, maybe it’s time to just try something that doesn’t sound like something that was done before. So for me, with making beats, I totally get what you are saying…that whole East Coast and broader rap sound…that’s what I was doing in high school. But in an industry that’s so difficult to be successful, maybe it’s time to give people something they’ve never heard.
Did you guys finish college?
Chidera: Nah, we did one year [Laughs].
Noah: Now we are on a pause.
How did your parents react to that in the beginning?
Chidera: Of course, there was opposition like, “You want to leave school??? What are you doing?” But over the time we were able to convince them. We have a good team around us. They’ve seen the progress of us getting signed and charting in the UK. We are going all over the world, so at that point it was like, let’s lend our support and see where it goes.
Noah: For me initially, I was very worried because my parents didn’t have a lot of money and I was on Drexel on scholarship for music production. But when I told them they were like, “We knew you were going to be in school for a limited time and do music.” It got the point I was learning more by meeting people and the experience of it than just sitting in a classroom. My parents ended up being very supportive.
Chidera: And it really turned out for the better because the response has just grown exponentially. The whole Chiddy Bang operation is about being different. Everything we do is real unconventional. Even though we blew up in the U.K. first, I wouldn’t change that for the world because that goes down in history of just doing shit in a different way.
And there have been other American music acts that made it in the U.K. first, right?
Noah: Right. Jimi Hendrix did the same thing. And so did the Roots…they were releasing singles in the U.K. way before they were releasing them here. It’s really all about what an open-minded crowd is feeling the most. Any artist is going to take that and go with whatever they can get.
A few months ago you were co-signed by Kanye West when he placed your video “Opposite of Adults” on his site. How did you react to something as huge as that?
Noah: I feel like Kanye ushered in the kind of new school sampling with what he did with Daft Punk and all the other left field artists like that. As a producer he’s definitely a hero of mines.
Chidera: And as a rapper, Kanye was a hero for me. I didn’t even believe he placed our video on his site. We had to verify it because it was unbelievable.
Have any other American MC’s reached out to you for collaborations?
Chidera: Black Thought is our mentor. He was one of the first person to reach out to us. He’s a legend in the game, an OG in the hip hop scene in Philly. We were able to get him on our mixtape. I know people were like, “How did this little known act get a verse from Black Thought?” But he’s a real dude and he co-signed us early on.
Noah: If you grew up in Philly and was a hip-hop kid The Roots—Black Thought and ?uestlove—are all your musical uncles.
So we've all heard the EP Opposite of Adults you released in the U.K. When will we see your full-length debut album?
Noah: Very soon…we are on it. We don’t have a title yet.
Chidera: We're still on a journey as musicians. Now it’s like, what’s next? We have the deal, we have the publishing deal, we charted in the UK, and it’s a celebration. The single “Opposite of Adults” has moved over 100,000 units in the UK. That was huge. [It was just released] in the States on 4.20.
Noah: [Laughs] And that was not intentional…that was something the label put together and we were like, “You do realize that that’s a ‘holiday’ for Americans?”
Chidera: [Laughs] Whatever it is, we are making some moves.