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album review: chiddy bang, breakfast

For a hip hop duo with so much hype surrounding them, Chiddy Bang‘s debut studio album Breakfast has been a long time coming. Chidera ‘Chiddy’ Anamege and DJ Noah ‘Xaphoon Jones’ Beresin first created waves with the single ‘The Opposite of Adults’ which sampled MGMT’s ‘Kids’  and became a summer anthem. The single was taken off their first mixtape, The Swelly Express, released in 2009, and since then the pair have been sampling anything and everything to create the fresh alternative hip hop sound they’ve been labelled with. ‘Mind Your Manners’, the second single off the album sums it up well in the chorus “there is no one like me”.

Breakfast was initially pinned for release in mid 2011 but was pushed back to November and then again before it was finally released on March 9th 2012. This is not to say the pair from Philadelphia haven’t been busy, releasing a series of mixtapes and playing a string of major festivals like Lollapalooza and Glastonbury, not to mention Chiddy breaking the Guinness World Record for longest freestyle rap (nine hours, 16 minutes and 22 seconds)! The end result is definitely worth the wait, boasting a much clearer, more defined sound than previous mixtapes. Perhaps this can be accredited to the pair signing to major label EMI.

Chiddy Bang create an effortless sound that could easily appeal to lovers of any style of contemporary music. Breaking away from the hip-hop stereotype of rapping about “getting bitches” and “getting paid”, Chiddy Bang delve a little deeper into their rhymes while still  projecting a mischievous front. The duo seem to have the whole not-taking-themselves-too-seriously act down pat, and it pays off. The result is music that doesn’t try too hard, or offer too little. Xaphoon doesn’t discriminate against any genres, having previously sampled from the likes of Sufjan Stevens to Morrissey. Each track gives an old song new life, and is as much influenced by indie rock as by electronic beats.

Notably, Breakfast is a lot more upbeat than previous works from the duo and the samples used are a lot less recognisable. It seems Xaphoon has searched high and low for new songs to transform. The first single ‘Ray Charles’ is probably the most obvious, a funky, retro and slightly addictive tune that makes it very hard to sit still.

While there are some fillers on the album, to their credit every track is catchy enough to grow on listeners. Chiddy Bang aren’t the type to rip-off their listeners, providing 12 solid tracks, an intro and an interlude. As well as the two singles, ‘Handclaps and Guitars’ and ‘Does She Love Me’ are also stand out songs. Chiddy’s rhythm fused with Xaphoon’s fresh beats and production skills work simultaneously together to create a substantial debut effort.

Breakfast plays out a bit like a school girl crush, with feelings of insecurity floating to its surface in the lyrics yet always maintaining an upbeat positive outlook that “things are looking up” (as ‘Out 2 Space’ sings with just a hint of reassurance). The playful collection of tunes puts me in a happy place and I can only feel disappointment that the duo have cancelled their scheduled appearance on the April/May Groovin’ The Moo festival tour. While they seem to be establishing a name for themselves let’s just hope they don’t join the ever growing list of artists who shamelessly overlook coming to Australia.

Whether or not they land on our shores any time soon, Chiddy Bang are certainly bound for big things. And, I for one, will happily indulge in whatever they serve up next.

By Freya Jones

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