Interview: Chiddy Bang — "Our album would be like Superbad meets The Life Aquatic meets Pulp Fiction"
Mon, 19 Apr 2010 09:33:46
Bonds formed in college typically last a lifetime; bands formed in college tend to last even longer.
Chiddy Bang—M.C. Chiddy and DJ/producer Xaphoon Jones—met while attending Drexel University. Instead of just cruising for girls and playing frat house pranks during their extracurricular time, Chiddy and Xaphoon started crafting some of the freshest and fieriest hip hop to come down the pike in a very long time. "Opposite of Adults," their lead single from the EP of the same title, mashes up moments of MGMT's hit "Kids" with ethereal production and Chiddy's airtight lyrical acrobatics. Chiddy channels a youthful sense of fun that's been all too often lost on modern hip hop, and the music becomes the perfect soundtrack to any party.
That's because they had chemistry from the moment they started collaborating on campus. "It was on from day one," exclaims Chiddy with a smile.
Chiddy Bang sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for an exclusive interview about taking a page from Mary Poppins' book, what "Opposite of Adults" is all about and who will play them in the movie…
Chiddy Bang is tapping into something fresh, while preserving an old school hip hop vibe with the rhyme style. What's the story behind "Opposite of Adults"?
Xaphoon Jones: As the producer who made the beat, I'd have to say you pretty much summed it up [Laughs]. I've been working with samples as a hip hop producer for awhile. I love the classic soul sound, but with this project, I wanted to do something new that pushes the boundaries of what you hear every day. Chiddy and I are trying to bring back the old vibe of a DJ/producer and MC like Rob Base and EZ Rock. It's definitely that old school fun style with some new school production techniques and rhymes.
Chiddy: I was a freshman in college. Xaphoon played me a slammin' beat that was an MGMT remix. I had no idea who MGMT was, but he had a mash-up with Notorious B.I.G. on it. It was "Mo Money, Mo Problems." When he played me "Opposite of Adults," there was a certain nostalgia to it. It reminded me of my younger days. Lyrically, everybody wants to be a kid forever. No one wants to grow up. That was what I was feeling when I wrote the song—something universal that everybody can dig. When everything is youthful, everything is great. You don't have to worry about anything. That's the life!
It's not typical subject matter for hip hop either.
Chiddy: It's true. When I talk about things I used to do back in the day at recess in the song, it really is a story. The beat tells a story, and I heard the story the beat told me and it was my job to transcribe words and match the beat's tale.
Xaphoon Jones: The problem with a lot of indie hip hop is the rapper is coming from an indie background, so he's not really willing to go in new directions. There's a really good rhythm with us because I listen to that and I put it in the beats but Chiddy doesn't come from background so he's able to put a very fresh perspective on top of it instead of rap that would more fit the genre.
If the Opposite of Adults EP were a movie what would it be?
Xaphoon Jones: It would be like Superbad meets The Life Aquatic meets Pulp Fiction. That's pretty much the mood! It'd be a great movie. You'd have to get the right director. Chiddy, who would play you?
Chiddy: Will Smith!
Xaphoon Jones: Who would play me if Will Smith's playing Chiddy? Probably Brendan Fraser [Laughs]. We just sit around thinking of random ass shit anyway.
What are some of the differences between the EP and the full-length you have coming out?
Xaphoon Jones: The singles are going to be on the full-length, but other than that, the full-length is going to be brand new! Our first mixtapes were made because we didn't have any resources to work with like studio instruments for instance [Laughs]. We had to rely very heavily on samples. Now, we have a budget and a label. We're going to push the limits with more instrumentation, more samples, more electronics and even more afrobeat.
Does it have one overall lyrical thread?
Chiddy: It's our journey and our progress in the music industry and where we're trying to go. Everything is up to date and current with what's going on. Swelly Express was us trying to break into the music industry and get seen by the labels. This project is like our welcoming—welcome into the game and we're going to do it big. We're still maintaining the same fun energy that we have. Hip hop these days is very serious, and it's okay to not take yourself so seriously sometimes and go have a good time. That's what we try to do. I've been partying every day for the past six months [Laughs]. This record really is a party, just to put that out there.
On Swelly Express, you sample Mary Poppins is that one of your favorite Disney movies?
Xaphoon Jones: I'm all about the soundtracks. I don't really like the movies themselves, but I'm all about Mary Poppins and Alice in Wonderland. Those two are my favorites in terms of the music. I study a lot of composition.
Chiddy: When he told me he sampled Mary Poppins, I was like, "This is great!" It fits the whole concept of everything we're doing. We're trying to take people back.
Xaphoon Jones: Our music is very dream-influenced. We want that vibe to be ingrained in the music. I thought it sounded dope and I had to snag that.
Chiddy: I had to rap to it!
Each song becomes its own journey.
Xaphoon Jones: I owe a lot of that to Kanye West who as a producer started bringing choirs and orchestras on his beats. I definitely try to go for the orchestral vibe—a very full composed sound.
Chiddy: When Xaphoon makes an orchestral beat, I think, "What are the right words for me to put on there? How does this fit in with the story we're trying to tell? How does it match what we're trying to put across?" We pride ourselves on those dreamy undertones, and I try to incorporate that lyrically.
Have you checked out Chiddy Bang yet?