Chiddy Bang Talks Upcoming Debut Album, Dream Collabos, and More

Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege and Noah “Xaphoon Jones” Beresin are the innovative members of the Philadelphia based hip-hop group, Chiddy Bang. Chidera and Noah met while attending Drexel University in their freshman year, while Noah was DJing and Chiddy was a known freestylist. After generating buzz from doing shows at Drexel in 2009, they got a nod from music blog “Pretty Much Amazing” which posted five songs as a testament to their popularity. Since then, the pair has released The Swelly Express, (featuring their breakthrough singles “Opposite of Adults” and “All Things Go”) and a second mixtape Air Swell. The group will release their debut album, Breakfast, on Feb. 28.

“Ray Charles” is their first official single off the album. The track has has a stellar piano riff, coupled with Chiddy Bang’s flair, which make it a stand out track. In VIBE’s interview with the duo, Chiddy Bang explain why listeners should expect something they’ve never heard before in hip-hop from their debut album. So far, we’re more than certain that they will deliver on their promise. Brittny Pierre 

VIBE: How did the idea of “Ray Charles” come about and how exactly did Ray Charles inspire the song?
Xaphoon: Me and Chiddy both get into our zone individually. I like to get in the studio hours before he is to make more tracks and he likes to show up and there’s an overlap period. He writes best when there isn’t anyone there, it’s just him and two more people and just the tracks – that’s when he’s at his best. I wasn’t actually there for the “Ray Charles” session and it was a very spontaneous song that they made because Chiddy’s brother fell asleep with sunglasses on and his head was tilt to the side and they were like, “oh you swagging right now, you Ray Charles?” They made that and Adam (Pallin producer of the single) did the piano thing and then I did the drums. “Ray Charles” is really just me and Chiddy doing bits, and then Adam just rearranging stuff but I don’t know too much about it because it’s one of the two songs out of the whole album out of 14 that I didn’t produce. I like it, it’s a fun energy, it comes from when we were listening to “Otis” on the radio all the time and we were like “oh we want to make something that sounds like this.”

You two met at Drexel, but how did you guys start Chiddy Bang exactly?
X: We were two 18-years-old kids and I was DJing at lot. I was really bad at it but I was DJing and making beats. Chiddy was rapping all the time and a business major. He was one of those kids who didn’t really want to be a business major but his parents wanted it. I didn’t even want to go to college at all. I just wanted to do music but my mom was like ‘You never know, you might meet some kids that you can make music with.’ I was like’“alright, I’ll try it for about five months.” [Chiddy] was rap battling at some kid’s party, I would DJ and he would rap battle kids and eventually we would start making tracks and people would considered us a group before we consider ourselves a group. People would play it at house parties and we were like, ‘we’re just making songs we’re not serious’ and then a year and half later…

Your mom was right on track?
X: Yeah and towards the end she was like you should gain more momentum and just drop out and I was like, ‘I don’t know, we don’t have a record contract I’ll probably just stay in college just to be safe,’ and mom was like ‘Nah, fuck that.’ So if you’re mom is cool, listen to your mom.

What can we expect from your debut album?
X: There’s a bunch of collabs on the album with producers that I’m fans of and work really well with, there’s a lot of vocalists. There might be one or two rap features. What you can expect from the album is a more mature, layered sound. Everything that people know us for so far, me and Chiddy a microphone and a laptop, and so we have to rely more heavily on samples when you don’t have equipment to make music with. So you do everything in your laptop and chop up a bunch of stuff and rap over it. But now we have more at our fingertips, we have string sections, pianos… and someone who has a music background it’s nice to write out everything on sheet music. I’m proud of the album, I think the album represents what we’re about more than the singles do, and I think that’s rare.

Who are your dream collaborations?
Chiddy: I’d love to get on a song with Juelz, Cam and Jim; I need Xap to channel an old-boy Heatmakerz-type beat, Just Blaze. That would be my dream collaboration. I grew up listening to a lot of Dipset, a lot of Jay-Z’s Blueprint where Kanye produced a lot of the tracks on there. Kanye West a big influence, I find myself really liking samples, people who rapped over samples, I just figured that out. That’s what I always been a fan of and we just started doing that in our own way.

X: The hip-hop producer in me is Kanye, Jay-Z…. I’m such a fan of music that you have to break it down with dream collabo sing/rapper/cello player; my dream collab is everyone.

Even Miley Cyrus or Britney Spears?
X: I would love to do a song with Britney with the grimiest beat and RZA, Wu-Tang beat and make Britney sing on it.

Kanye did Wu-Tang with Justin Bieber…
X: That was amazing, I didn’t think the elements were combined – taking things that don’t work together and making them work together and that’s Kanye’s strength – that’s why that song is listenable but I think he could have done more with it. Raekwon’s part and Bieber’s part are too different; you need Bieber to sing what Raekwon is actually rapping about, JB is all singing “Ohh my runaway girl” and Raekwon is like “I’m chilling in the projects…” Join the subject matters could make it a really crazy track.

Many artists have said they have discovered their sound while recording their first album, would you say that was the same experience while composing Breakfast?

X: In a way, yeah! When this album comes out, I don’t know whether people will say good or bad things but there’s definitely nothing in the world that sounds like it. After a while elements in hip-hop sound become really noticeable like ‘Oh this is a Lex Luger beat or this is a Rick Ross track.’ It definitely has a whole album feel to it compared to a rapper working with 4-6 producers on one track, it’s really just me and John Hill ( he worked with the likes of Santigold and Shakira). But it’s still in our pocket. We definitely found our sound, it’s Chiddy rapping over my beats. He’s not really doing anything different but he definitely pushes himself harder.

C: It was an evolution process for us, just taking time for us to come into our own but I think this album was set in the right pocket. I was listening to it the other day and there’s a lot of good stuff on there. We didn’t work with a lot of well-known artists or producers but we did work with some cool people that we vibe with. We got a song with Sam Frank. He’s a writer out in the U.K.

X: Gordon Voidwell. He’s an amazing singer in the Bronx he does his own vintage throwback ‘80s stuff.

C: We had him on our mixtape on a song called “All Over” but we got him on the album.

Will there be a lot of electronic feel on the album since you’re working with Sam Frank?
X: Oh yeah lots of synths. Lots of big spacey, kind of like a military drums/hip-hop/dubstep song. It sounds like a Kanye song but with drumlines and dubstep and that’s a bonus track. Big synths out to space, I think the second single will be “Manners” and third single will be big synth and strings. Good or bad, there’s not going to be anything that sounds like this, in a way we did find our sound. Maybe we’ll go for a different sound for the next album, but for this album, there’s nothing else that sounds like it.

Why title your album, Breakfast?
C: So many meanings for Breakfast, for us. Whenever we’d have a good moment in our career, when we found out we were platinum in Australia, we had breakfast. When I broke the Guinness World Record MTV asked, “What do you need”, I said “I need you to get us some breakfast”. I had a big breakfast that day. [Laughs]