Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Chiddy Bang: On Your Marks, get set...

Chiddy Bang
Chiddy Bang Chiddy Bang Chiddy Bang Chiddy Bang

As the last rights were being given to that genre we had come to know fondly as hip-hop - little did we know it wasn't about to croak, but instead was in a critical chrysalis stage in its musical development. Now, in the wake of this imperative event I’m pleased to announce the latest edition to this new breed of Hip-hop hierarchy is about to touch down on these mighty pages. But not with the majestic grace of proverbial Butterfly, oh no... Just as colourful I grant you, but with more of a bang! A Chiddy Bang to be exact.

And who are Chiddy Bang? Well, in plain they are a pair of Philly Hop-Hop homeboys on the edge of possible greatness, as they strive to make their mark on the charts. These partners in rhyme, fronted by the charismatic front man Chidera Anamege and backed in the mix by Noah 'Xaphoon' (more of that later) Jones look to have found the perfect tune to put them firmly on their chosen road. 'The Opposite Of Adults' which is borrowed heavily from the MGMT track ‘Kids’ and gives the tune that unforgettable hook, whilst Chidera drops those rhymes and personal comment just right. Are they the next big thing?... Probably!

I catch up with half of the dynamic duo on a recent trip to these shores, where I get to the bottom of the origins of their mega catchy chart bound tune, how the partnership was forged and of course I had to bring up Noah’s AKA - Xaphoon !? Well it’ll be Xaph-rude not to wouldn’t it?! (Bless you!)

Lee: Noah I presume it was you that sourced the music and got the samples together?

Noah: Yeah basically, I make all the beats and design the backing tracks - I'm the producer and Chidera does the raps - and I do the beats. The personal beat-myster.

Lee: So how did the latest tune come to pass?

Noah: Originally, when we were both in college - I was just working on lots of different beats and different mash-ups, instead of doing traditional mash-ups - I was taking parts of songs and kinda re-arranging them, and I was using this drum machine called an Akai MPC2000. I pretty much took the four main synth hits form Kids and spread em out - put some drums on them, Chidera came in and heard it, and immediately he was like "I have to rap over that - I have to!" I think I was mashing it up with something like a Biggie Smalls song or something and he was like "Let me rap over it!"

Lee: Is that the type of music that you're into - the MGMT's?

Noah: Oh, I'm into all kinds of stuff mate - yeah I love MGMT, there singles are amazing. I love lots of old Soul, and Jazz, and Hip Hop and... I'm not gonna say I listen to everything cos that's just corny and everybody sez that. I'm definitely a Hip Hop fan first and foremost - I like electronic and all kinds of strange variations of that you know. I'd say I'm a Hip Hop head, that is like, a junkie for Soul and Jazz records and stuff like that.

Lee: Can I just bring up a few of the other tunes I've heard from you guys cos there's a few that stand out for me. 'Ice Cream Man' comes across a little bit of a Gym Class Heros type of track, if you know what I mean?

Noah: Yeah a little bit - that's an old Tom Waits song actually, the bells you hear are the sample and I really wanted to sample the vocals - they're amazing, but the drums were kinda too loud in the mix and I couldn't really find the master recording. So I got my friend Pat, who was in our ensemble last year - he did a lot of live shows with us. He's got a great voice; I'm into that. He was singing the exact same thing that Tom Waits was singing and it came out great! The drums hit hard...

Lee: Again, another very catchy song...

Noah: It actually has no samples on. Lots of people think we use samples on everything but we do have quite a lot of original tracks, it has the intro with Fela Kuti talking and what not, but yeah, it has no samples on. A drum loop eye for me and some synths I put on there.

Lee: Whose idea was it to use Fela Kuti on there?

Noah: Oh, it was mine - I mean Chidera is Nigerian and he's a huge Afro Beat fan, as am I - we are both Afro Beat fans. We knew on this song, way before, that he wanted to talk a little bit about living in Nigeria cos his whole family's from there and I was like a sample junkie - I was like "It needs a little something for the intro."

Lee: There are some tough lyrics on that tune.

Noah: Definitely, definitely - And he goes back there all the time. We just took a five week break and he went back there cos all of his family's there - he was there, for like, a month and a half.

Lee: When you talk about sampling; 'Never', 'All Things Go' and 'Declined' are all sample oriented – As I call em "By the Chipmunk posse..."

Noah: [Laughs] Yeah, I’m very influenced by Kanye West and the Soul sample kinda mentality of speeding up vocals and kinda orchestrating beats around them.

Lee: Do you do that alot?

Noah: Erm, I wouldn't say it dominates my style, but it's definitely a huge influence on me and comes out alot in my work - just the whole style. You don't necessarily have to be speed up vocals. The whole style in terms of orchestration, starting with the sample and using the over dubbing process - build more and more layers and kinda create more of an orchestral changing beat and less of a loop you know? (Course I do!?)

Lee: So not to become too boring I suppose?

Noah: Yeah definitely. (Phew! Got outta that one!?)

Lee: Before I ask the next question... can I ask, do you have a hand in the lyric writing?

Noah: Yes I do - especially the chorus'.

Lee: In 'Opposite Of Adults' - There's a line in the song "Somebody tell Roth that I don't love college". What's going on there with the Asher Roth comment?

Noah: Well, obviously we're not ones to start any rap beefs or anything but we definitely came from that last year, when we were in college, and we saw that culture - if you're familiar with Asher's song 'I love College'. We saw that culture and we were so driven to our dream - were so ready to be done with this! We were just like "I can't stand this mentality, like, F**k the mentality of that!" So we definitely don't get down with that mentality, but you know, we're not about to start any rap beef you know.

Lee: I agree with you, but then again the college thing doesn't mean as much to us over here - it's a different mentality...

Noah: It's a different culture. But yeah, we came from there and they definitely loved us and supported us - and they were good to us. We were like Fry Frats (sounds yummy!?), this is not harsh rap - this is more like a commentary on culture.

Lee: Can I just ask about your name before we go any further?

Noah: Oh Xaphoon Jones...

Lee: Yeah, I've looked up Xaphoon - it comes from Maui. It's Hawaiian or something... And I quote "I deep rich portable musical folk instrument, hand crafted of bamboo".

Noah: Right, yeah OK - I can tell you how I got that show. The kid Pat who singing on 'Ice Cream man', when we were playing really sh**y open mic nights in bars around Philadelphia - we kinda had a contest. We were always getting bored, cos we were playing for like, forty drunk Firemen - you know what I'm saying... So we would have a fake contest to see who could come up with the worst name for each other - we'd try to embarrass each other on stage. He would be like "Yo coming up now is like Xaphoon Jones, he's gonna read some of his personal poetry!" I was like "What are you doing?" The audience was like "Whhhat is going on?!" That was kinda like my name in school - kids just called me that, like nobody called me Noah - everybody called me Xaphoon. I liked how it sounded, I liked the ring to it. I never wanted to be ‘DJ this’ you know? Or anything like that. When you use Xaphoon Jones it doesn't remind you of someone else's DJ name (Well except Xaphoon Tong and Xaphoon Oakenfold I suppose!?).

Lee: Yep totally unique - was he (Pat) aware of what it meant?

Noah: Oh yeah, yeah - it's a bamboo Saxophone. he actually got it from this programme called Reason that we used to make beats - it's a preset sound that is actually the worse sounding thing ever. Sounds like "WhhhhaaaaAAAA". Terrible! So he was just trying to go for the worst thing he could think of.

Lee: My penultimate question has to be - what's the future for Chiddy Bang. What's the plan- where are you going and how you gonna get there? (Answer in one word!? lol)

Noah: Well, we've got the single obviously and from there we're gonna follow that up with another single, and then an album - tour our asses off! Play tons and tons of shows and work on writing an album.

Lee: Have you got the material sorted for the album yet?

Noah: We've got like an outline- we've definitely got a sketch. We've got a few that we're saving for the album that we've not put on any mix-tapes or anything. We've got ones that we've played and people have been like "That's a hit, you have to save that!"

Lee: Should have been my lead question really... (you can never call me a conformist!?) So how did you guys meet - I know you were at college, did he know you were sampling - Did he hear your beats or something?

Noah: [Laughs] Basically we were both Freshmen at Drexel University in Philadelphia, I was in the music industry programme. I was just some kid who liked to make beats and wanted to do it for a living, he was a business major and heard about me from a friend. We just hung out and he was trying to get some studio time or something - we ended up making some songs and seeing what happened. Eventually we were like "Wow! This is like, a formula that works!!"

Lee: I totally agree with you - you're picking up good airplay. You must be pleased.

Noah: Yeah I would definitely agree with you - definitely, definitely very pleased.

Lee: Yeah, world domination for the future!?

Noah: [Laughing] That's the goal man - take over the world!

Lee: [Laughing] Well I hope to see you on the other side of that one day, thank you very much...

Noah: Aw thanks’ so much...Have a great day!

Chiddy Bang's 'Opposite Of Adults' is out now and album to follow later in the year.

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