Chiddy Bang: Hip-Hop Under New Management

Motown Philly is back again-only this time with two fresh princes doing a lil alternative Hip-Hop swing. They’re not too hard, and certainly not too soft, but they are here to bring the life back MC rhymes backed up by the scratches and energy of the DJ. Chiddy Bang, composed of MC Chiddy and producer/DJ […]

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Motown Philly is back again-only this time with two fresh princes doing a lil alternative Hip-Hop swing. They’re not too hard, and certainly not too soft, but they are here to bring the life back MC rhymes backed up by the scratches and energy of the DJ. Chiddy Bang, composed of MC Chiddy and producer/DJ Xaphoon, presents a story on how freshmen years at Philadelphia’s Drexel University were not concentrated on women, but mostly dedicated to sneaking into the school’s studio for some musical play on the equipment. With their mind on beats and raps, all the neighborhood house parties paid off and the duo finally inked a deal with British record label EMI. Now the boys can be seen on tubes everywhere rocking slick metaphoric raps over electro sampled beats with hit singles “Opposite of Adults” and “Truth.”

With so many labels on today’s various branches of Hip-Hop, Chiddy Bang simply wants to make good music without being bound to the “hipser” box. Enjoy the retrospective of the duo’s success as well as a look into influences and past time college years. Enjoy the electric feel… we present to you: Chiddy Bang. Explain how you Philly boys landed a record deal in London?

Xaphoon: When we first started putting out our songs a lot of American labels were not interested but they were interested in our sampling concept. It took a British label- Parlophone to really come to us and be like “Yo, do you mind clearing the sample. We want to put out one single!” It sold really well and it let to the record deal we have now. That lead to the record deal that we have right now. Were there originally four members of the group?

Xaphoon: Well, yeah we had a lot of bands and since the beginning of Chiddy Bang down to the very first song, the formula has always been the same it is always been Chiddy rapping and me making the beats. But, we did have a bunch of kids in a lot of bands and when it came time to sign the deal they just were no apart of it because they have not written any of the stuff. It is cool. We are still cool with all of them.

Chiddy: Yeah we still cool with all those guys, but it was just that type of thing where music was always me and Xaphoon in the creative process in terms of being in the studio. When it came down to sign the deal it made sense to retain what was the core of our creative process anyway. If you guys were still in school you would be sophomores right?

Chiddy: Yup. Is there anything in school you guys miss?

Chiddy: I miss the social life, like the partying and all that stuff.

Xaphoon: I miss the community. The community aspect is really what I miss the most you know because now we are really in a new lifestyle where we work all nights and weekends and kind of free during the day – which is kind of the opposite of every working human on the planet – but definitely your dream job has its upsides. The downside is you miss the brother hood of college.

Chiddy: Also miss sneaking into the studio at Drexel making tracks. That was dope. Let’s talk about the music. You two have a style suitable to be put in the “hipster” box. I’m sure you guys don’t want to fall victim to the stamp, so how would you describe Chiddy Band’s style?

Chiddy: Chiddy Bang style is Xaphoon Jones taking some crazy samples, chopping them up, dope beats and dope rhymes. Here is the thing with beats with me, me laying the rhymes down over them, him telling me maybe I should say this and me saying maybe he should add this into the beat. It is us collaborating back and forth with our music.

Xaphoon: We really trying to take it back a little bit to the kind of producer rapper era like Rob Base and EZ Rock or like Guru and [DJ] Premier. Just kind of like a old school mentality but with new school samples define lots of pop and club influences on our Hip-Hop.

Chiddy: It’s like Hip-Hop and a rack of other stuff. What’s the genre we came up with Xaph?

Xaphoon: Oh yeah I to call it Rapelectronicaafrobeatclubprop. That’s kind of a mouth full. So when it comes to be being automatically put under the hipster label, how do you guys feel about how it? Are you with it or against it?

Xaphoon: I know Chiddy is going to have his own opinion but my opinion on this is like people are always going to label something whatever they want because people can feel more attached to something or detached from it if they can call it something I never really thought about it. I do not think I’m a hipster. I don’t really… I am a pretty normal dude.

Chiddy: I still do not know what a hipster really is. We’re just two kids making music.

Xaphoon: At our Philly shows it is kind of nice mix. We do get some of the hipster crowd but we also get some of the hood crowds like from my neighborhood. I did not know any hipsters growing up just because I did not live in those neighborhoods. It’s strange because a hipster on one hand can like us but on another they can be to hip for us and sometimes do not like us.

Chiddy: Essentially, we just do our own thing and just make what we feel is dope. If they’re attached to it that’s what’s up and if they think it is dope that is cool. Pretty much we do not care who likes our music. We just want people to like what we do.

Xaphoon: Yeah, pretty much. When people first listen to any of your records, I’m pretty sure they’re most likely to take to the beat before the lyrics. Xaphoon, with your production, the average Hip-Hop head may overlook Chiddy’s lyrical ability because of non-traditional Hip-Hop beat. How do guys feel about possible being over looked by a mass Hip-Hop crowd due to the different selection and the way you guys do select beats?

Xaphoon: Hip-Hop was born out of doing something different. The fact that were doing something different should not be a reason to overlook us that is my opinion. Hip-Hop was born out of people bringing something new to the party and toasting and chatting over funk records. At the time it was unlike anything that sounded like it before. So if were bringing something to the table that does not sound traditional, that is the tradition of Hip- Hop. Young conventional music. That’s what I will say. Call it whatever you want I am a Hip-Hop kid. I was raised a Hip-Hop kid. As a producer [J] Dilla and Premier was my hero’s and I could sit around and make beats like them all day if I wanted to, but I want to bring something new to the table. Something you would not hear everyday.

Chiddy: Yup. Something different. In a recent interview, I read Xaphoon you said about making a million samples a year, but that’s not what Chiddy Bang is about. Then you mentioned J Dilla and Premier and how you really look up to them. What is it about these artists that you admire so much.

Xaphoon: First of all their sample choices. I mean I’m a huge sample head. I go back and dig up all those old funk records they picked whether it is [J] Dilla, digging up a old Filthy Paul record, [DJ] Premier or busting out a Marc Anthony record for that track he produced for Royce Da 5’9. The choice of samples are always brilliant. Second of all [J] Dilla can bop like nobody- have you heard his drums? His drums are crazy! Nobody can bop like him it was unbelievable. Not just them, I have tons of producers I look up to. I’m a huge Neptunes fan- the drum sounds are amazing. I’m a hug fan of the Dream. I like lots of producers but [J] Dilla and [DJ] Premier they got to me because that is what I was raised on. Now Chiddy, when you’re talking about political issue or just using metaphors, who influenced your overall sound and delivery?

Chiddy: I’m a Jay-Z fan, like a Blueprint, Black Album, Reasonable Doubt Jay-Z, those three albums right there. I think that probably had an influence on me a little bit in how I inflect my words and the way I emphasize my words and stuff like that. Kanye West  with College Dropout- which is one of my favorite albums of all time probably is my favorite album.

Xaphoon: Also as a producer Kanye [West] is a huge influence.

Chiddy: These artist definitely influence me and the way deliver my music and deliver my lyrics. From the political standpoint, I just talk about what is relevant to me. “Sooner or Later” I was talking about Nigeria. I was talking about things going on in Nigeria and how there is a light crisis its not like electricity and it is not 24 hour electricity over there. I just talk about real issues that are relevant to my life no matter what. So everything is like an update of what is going on right now. We just came out of a meeting with our label EMI and I just freestyled over there and that might end up in a song. We know you guys are young and the track was originally named after the MGMT sample, “Kids.” What’s the reason for the name change for “Opposite of Adults?”

Xaphoon: Legally we were not allowed to call it “Kids” and that’s what we called it on our mixtape.  All of our American fans have it on their computers as “Kids.” When I found out we could not call it that I was like “Aww Man.” I went back to the studio and just kept working on stuff. We had a deadline and we had to submit it because of the American side of  things and we had to submit it to get it clear and all kinds of stuff. So it was super last minute decision and we was like “Opposite of Adults.” We were just stuck with it. Did MGMT hear the song yet?

Chiddy: Yes, they did hear the song. We actually ran into them when we were in the UK.

Xaphoon: Yeah in London.

Chiddy: We ran into Andrew and it was dope. I was like “Yo we’re big fans! We sampled you guys on our record “Kids,” we sampled “Kids.” He was “Yeah we heard the song. We like it, it was dope.”

Xaphoon: And their people dig it because on their new record, they are trying to be a little bit more experimental. The video to “Opposite of Adults” is rather entertaining. What was the inspiration for the video when it comes to the over sized heads?

Xaphoon: We knew we were going to have to put kids in it and we kind of wanted to mess with the green screen and also go back to like Nintendo 64 and the bobble heads stuff. We just really sat down with some directors that we liked.

Chiddy: Amazing, amazing directors.

Xaphoon: Yeah we wanted the silliest and funniest thing. We were just trying to show in our first video like it is important to not always take yourself not so serious. I feel like that is the thing with a lot of new Hip-Hop acts, like that is the thing like everything is so serious all the time. Not saying that we are huge jokesters or we are a big joke, but just inject some likeness, some humor and some fun back into the media. If you listen to late 70s’ and 80s’ Hip-Hop it’s all like “We’re going out to the party! We want to go boogie down!” Nobody’s cursing. Not that is what I want to bring Hip-Hop back to, but that is definitely an element that is being left out. When you guys have a day off, what do you do with your spare time?Especially since you guys are “kids.”

Chiddy: Man I’ll probably just chill in my crib, play some basketball, shoot some hoops, chill with my boys, listen to beats that Xaphoon sent me.

Xaphoon: I’ll probably wonder around Philly because I never get to be home. I live in this beautiful house in south Philly you know I probably wonder around the entire market seeing friends I do not get to see. That is pretty much what I do on my days off. first mixtape The Swelly Express received over 100,000 downloads in a month. Now while at Drexel, Chiddy you were a business major and Xaphoon you did something with music management. were a music major. What did type of things did you guys do in school to promote this project?

Xaphoon: We had the best strategy ever. We would make songs on the weekends and then on Monday and Tuesday we would just send them out to everybody that we knew threw parties. By Wednesday and Thursday it would be on their iPods. Then when we roll around to the parties on Saturdays, it would be playing on the party. That was one thing we did. We also sent stuff to a lot of blogs. We were always in the studio working. That was pretty much out freshmen year.

Chiddy: It was more studio than actual school. If we weren’t in the studios we were doing the shows, it was crazy. Talk about the upcoming album?

Xaphoon: Our album is going to be unlike anything anyone has ever heard. I think a lot of people are going to make predictions on how were going to sound like based on “Opposite of Adults” and some of our other songs, but this album we are bringing out sounds that nobody has ever heard. With “Opposite of Adults,” “Truth” and the songs like that, we already going in a kind of direction. Now that we have resources that are in use and we can get studio time we are just taking to the next level it has been the most fun ever.   

Chiddy: Yup, we made all those songs with no budget. Chiddy, on the “Sooner or Later” track you mention situations with your family in Nigeria. If you haven’t notice, African artists have slowly rising in today’s Hip-Hop. For instance K’Naan, Wale and Nipsey Hussel. How do you feel about the rise of African artists in today’s Hip-Hop?

Chiddy: I mean it is beautiful thing. Everywhere I go I’m always in all forms of life I am always running into an African or an Nigerian. I really feel like we are spreading ourselves out in all forms of music. Especially Wale. We opened up for Wale a couple of times and he is cool. I am a fan of Nissey Hussle. The rise of Africa is something great because Africa has been brought down for years. It is good we are liberating ourselves through music. It’s really a dope thing. If you had a chance to be a notable African MC, what would you bring to the emerging class of artists?

Chiddy: My thing with Africa… I’m not gonna say I’m really in and those other people aren’t in it, but my parents come from Nigeria. I am a Nigeria citizen, I go there like every year. I was just there from December to January and I’m really in touch on what goes on there, I speak the language. Pretty much I am there I know what is going on there. I actually work with artist in Nigeria that are like straight home grown talent. I’m really in touch with that. I have an actual strong hold over there in Nigeria. As an artist, I look as it like go out there and do shows in Africa. Some of my boys in Nigeria do shows in front of like 6,000 people and get paid good money for it. I’m already connected to that world over there. What I’m doing here in America and what we’re doing in the UK… it’s like a global push. Being from Philly, Xaphoon you actually got a chance to meet Black Though and ?uestlove from The Roots. How was that how experience?

Xaphoon: That was amazing. We all went to similar high schools downtown, so I always seen them around. When we were coming back from a show early last year, we met [Black] Thought at 32 Station, which is like a train station in West Philly. It was amazing to finally meet them. But what was more amazing was [Black] Thought kind of placed himself in the role as our mentor and put us on shows. He also brought us to the studio when The Roots was doing their new album. They were really supportive and gave us lots of advice and we always talk to him about the music industry, for instance when The Roots’ single first came out in the UK before it came out here. So there were definitely some parallels there. He grew up in South Philly and attended elementary school kind right near my house. A lot of it just parallel and they’re the best guys. The Roots are just wonderful, wonderful people. Chiddy you’re from New Jersey. What are some of your memorable experiences?

Chiddy: My experiences growing up in [New] Jersey were cool, it had its ups and downs, but I think coming from [New] Jersey that is what homed my skills as a rapper. Growing up everybody I was around rapped and that is what we did and that is what was cool. I remember being in fifth grade, on the phone with my boys rapping over beats and stuff . It was on that level. I will forever show gratitude toward [New] Jersey homing my skills as a rapper because ever since then that is all I have been doing. Since you guys captured the essence of an alternative Hip-Hop sound, are you guys going to be bringing more soulful hip-hop samples to the next project?

Chiddy: There will be stuff going on. There will be stuff going on.

Xaphoon: It totally depends on if our work is cleared, but right now I can definitely say we got some soul samples in the mix.

Chiddy: We do, we definitely do. The only thing is you gotta deal with sample clearance and stuff. So dealing with the label, we have to clear them. How has your journey been with the sample clearance. Xaphoon we all know you like to sample a lot.

Xaphoon: The only hard part was in the beginning nobody really wanted to mess with us because of it, but now that there is a label that mess with us, the rule is just no rules. Just make dope beats and if it is a sample get clearance, not that we won’t. That is why we love EMI because we get the freedom to sample. As you guys continue to make your staple in the Hip-Hop game, who would you guys like to collab with?

Chiddy: I would like to work with Kanye [West]. Xaph what you think?

Xaphoon: If we can work with Kanye [West] and maybe take it back to College Dropout s**t and make some s**t with him that would be amazing. Also, Black Milk I think he is like one of the best producers around right now. I loved to work with him. 

AllHipHop: You would hear a Black Milk influence being thrown out there everyday. Why do you choose him?

Xaphoon: He did a track with Royce Da 5’9 called “Losing Out” and he sampled this Allen Parsons song from the ’80s and it’s like ’80s punk-rock stuff. In my mind that is the greatest sample and the greatest Hip-Hop track of the new era. It came out in ’07 and his record gets ultimate respect from me as a producer. I know people wouldn’t expect me to say that, but that’s who I’ll go with. No question.

Chiddy: Off the top of my head, I would have to say Black [Thought] again. We would have to work with Black [Thought]. Any last words for Hip-Hop

Xaphoon: If people give you s**t for doing something different, you should just ignore it. Keep doing your thing.

Chiddy: Do it for the love, do it cause you love what you doing. Do not try to do it for any monetary purposes or nothing like that. We made The Swelley Express with a budget of zero. We made music that we genuinely appreciated and it got us really far.