Interview: Chiddy Bang
by Winston "Stone" Ford
If ever there was a case study about the speed of how the Internet makes stars, Chiddy Bang would be on the first page. The Philly-based duo parlayed their Swelly Express mixtape into a label deal with the venerable Parlophone records and a top 10 track in the UK. In less time then it takes for some artists to record a full album, these guys have already become bonifide radio and TV sensations.
Its obvious that Chiddy Bang got next in this new generation of hip-hop stars. Forget the 90s boom bap, the new hop get their inspirations from the sounds of MGMT, Passion Pit, and Miike Snow. This new generation of the genre–fronted by Kanye, Kid Cudi and Theophilous London–is changing the way that hip-hop is interpreted in our socitey.
Fuled by their success across the pond, Chiddy is coming back to the States soon for more touring an a full length album dropping this summer.
We set down with Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege to talk about their origins, recent success, and plans for the future.
Where did the name Chiddy Bang Come From?
My real name is Chidera and I’ve been called Chiddy since I was a yougin’. It was initially the name of some of our projects and our company. Me and my boy started a crew and when I met Noah [Beresin] we started out as Chiddy Chiddy Bang Bang, and then we just shortened it to Chiddy Bang.
How did you guys meet?
I had a next door neighbor [at Drexel] who was in the music industry program and he was like “yo I got a friend that makes beats. You’re a dope rapper…”
It seems like you guys draw from a lot of different artists: MGMT, Passion Pit, Gorllaz. Who are your inspirations?
I know my inspirations are Jay-Z, Kanye West–very hip-hop based. I think that’s what’s dope about our whole dynamic. I’m coming in with a very straight up hip-hop perspective, and Noah represents the indie culture. He’s influenced from all types of music from jazz to Joe Strummer from The Clash.
I think what’s great about our music is that it’s genre-less. It blends all types of genres together and it works well. I just bring my hip-hop element into that.
One day I saw you guys had the mixtape, the next, I hear you guys on the BBC. How did you guys pop off in the UK?
The UK thing happened kind of crazy. The label put the single [Opposite of Adults] out and it got over 100,000 downloads on iTunes. It even beat out Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind.”
Yeah, that was kind of crazy for us and kind of surreal as well. Over there we went straight to the radio, but here we have to do a lot basement shows, and mainstream shows and college shows. We’re building it up from the ground up.
How are the crowds different in the UK vs the US?
The UK is dope because going to shows is like a part of their consciousness. There always checking out shows and dope acts. There also open to more different kinds of music, and that kind of explains why we did so well in the UK because they’re open to different genres crossing.
The UK is ahead of us by years. They have always been a tastemaker. They’re on to things years before we are. So it’s definitely dope to perform in front of a UK crowd.
Going from college student to UK sensation in less than a year has to be stressful for anybody. How are you dealing with the success?
We’ve been working so we haven’t even sat down and thought about it. I think one day we can look back at all that we’ve accomplished.
Have you actually met the artists that you sampled in person? MGMT etc? Future collabs?
We met Tinie Tempah and he’s cool as hell. He’s from Nigeria and so am I so we got to marinate on that level. Ellie Goulding likes our music, she digs it. We hope to go back out to the UK and meet some of these people. We’re going to be out there for a month, playing Scotland and I think Germany as well.
Let’s talk about your videos. You have the one that you did for the Pass Out freestyle that I was in, but you also have a dope one for the Opposite of Adults. Your videos seem to be ultra creative and not something that is not really hip-hop per se.
We’re just trying to bring something new and exciting to the game. And really we credit the directors that we use like Duncan Skiles because they understand us. The Opposite of Adults video was a light-hearted tone of us as a child, and the second one for Truth we used a Passion Pit sample we just wanted to take it to the next level. We wanted to make something that was different but keeps that hip-hop level there.
Speaking of hip-hop, what do you think about this new brand of dudes taking over the genre?
It’s definitely a turning point for hip-hop and we’re excited for this new era of music. I think these new artists are daring to be different and make new and exciting music. The music has been stale for a very long time. Just yesterday we wound out that we were going to be on BET which is crazy.
Is there an album on the way?
The album is coming out August 24th. It’s coming out over here. We’re about 90% done with it. I think is going to answer a lot of the questions about what’s going on in our life. How we’re coping with the success that we’ve attained and what are the … to getting where we’ve gotten in such a fast time. You know, was it everything we thought it was [going to be]? And always being on the road.
There are going to be some great things bout it–the partying and such–but there will be some more introspective tracks about not being home and staying true to yourself amongst all this.