Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chiddy Bang: The Preview

Chidera "Chiddy" Anamege and Noah "Xaphoon Jones" Beresin were both attending Philadelphia's Drexel University.  They got together and made a mixtape of a few songs that featured Chiddy rhyming over existing songs that Xaphoon put together with some fresh beats.  The story might have ended there just ten years ago, but in true Internet Age fashion, they put the songs up on a Myspace (remember those AwEsOmE FlAsHiNg BaCkGrOuNdS?), got discovered by a blog, who then put out their original mixtape (and their follow-up mixtape), and somewhere in there the kids from Drexel scored a record deal from EMI/Virgin, eventually putting out The Preview.  Niiice.

One thing Chiddy Bang does well is sample indie bands: Passion Pit, MGMT, Dr. Dog, Sufjan.  I'm a sucker for groups that sample bands I like (or mash them up like the Hood Internet).  Perhaps in order to gain permission from the original artist, they have to alter the song a bit too much (like on Sufjan's "All Things Go").  But it works perfectly on "Opposite of Adults," Chiddy Bang's breakthrough track:

Preview is a bit short, clocking in at under 30 minutes, but when coupled with the two best tracks of their Air Swell mixtape ("Breakfast" and "Pass Out") and a separately released track (featuring Radiohead), it's long enough.  Nearly each track is enjoyable, though "Bad Day," a song about a cheating ex-girlfriend, smacks of juvenile lyricism, and "Nothing on We" is kinda blah.  Sprinkled throughout the album are tons of pop culture references: Uncle Jesse from Full House, Cory from Boy Meets World, Mario from Mario Bros., etc.  Absent (at least from what I can tell) is the misogyny that plagues most hip hop albums -- a welcome relief.  Chiddy Bang seems mostly about having fun:

Grade: B-
Blurb: This isn't as good as last year's Man on the Moon or Jaydiohead, but it's fun and it's not nearly as self-indulgent as that Kanye guy.

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