Remember that 1968 film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? You know, the one starring Dick Van Dyke, who traded in his chimney-sweep attire from 1964’s Mary Poppins for a cleaner look more suited to his role as Professor Caractacus Potts, the eccentric inventor of a car that could transform into a boat, fly through the air and save young kids from long-nosed, lollipop-wielding children snatchers? (Kids, never trust seedy-looking middle-aged men who carry nets and promise you candy.)
Yeah, most college students probably don’t.
But for hip-hop up-and-comers Chiddy Bang—the breakout rap duo that has made waves this year thanks to creative tracks that sample everything from Passion Pit to tunes from the movie Mary Poppins—Chitty Bang, for obvious reasons, is a whole lot more than a mere movie reference.
“You know, when people think of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, that’s real hard to respect, right?” muses rapper Chiddy. “I mean, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, it’s real funny. But [we’re] about taking something that is looked at in a funny, lighthearted way, and just making it dope.”
Composed of emcee Chidera Anamege and producer Noah Beresin, the duo is known better by their stage names Chiddy and Xaphoon Jones, respectively. Anamege has been called “Chiddy” since he was a young kid; “Xaphoon” is “a terrible sounding instrument on Reason,” says Anamege, Reason being some of the recording software that Beresin employs to cut up tracks and use them as samples in Chiddy Bang’s unfailingly catchy repertoire of songs, including the popular hit “Opposite of Adults,” in which Beresin makes clever use of the melody from MGMT’s “Kids” as the song’s backing beat.
Having met during their freshman year at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Anamege and Beresin quickly realized that books and blackboards weren’t for them. After almost a year of chopping up and cutting loose singles and EPs (and grabbing the attention of Kanye West and The Roots’ Black Thought), the two 19-year-old dropouts have now signed with Virgin Records/EMI Music and are working on their first full-length album, to be released in August. But before then comes another EP—the “Opposite of Adults” EP—which will be released June 1, as well as a headlining tour of the West Cost.
College mag caught up with emcee Chiddy to talk about the duo’s old-school-inspired sound. And why Asher Roth has got it all wrong.
Chiddy, you guys are all about the samples. You have this very ’90s hip-hop sound. What do you guys find so appealing about using samples in your raps?
I mean, you know, it really comes from Noah. Noah has a sampling heart. He actually came up listening to a lot of the ‘golden era’ hip-hop, and when we started doing this project it was something he wanted to do as far as sampling goes. But he didn’t want to mimic his heroes in a sense. He wanted to do something that was different. And sampling contemporary music, sampling the music that is of our time is something that we’ve seemed to develop a formula for. And it’s working.
You guys met at Drexel when you were freshmen. How exactly did you and Noah start collaborating together on music?
We met at Drexel through my next door neighbor. He was a good friend of Noah’s. And he heard me rap and I was trying to get to the studio at the same time. He was like, ‘Yo, my boy makes beats, you guys should consider working together.’ And we came up with some dope-ass music. Noah came to me and gave me a track . . . that became our first track called ‘On Our Way,’ a Weezer sample, and it was a great vibe.
In “Opposite of Adults,” you guys call out Asher Roth and tell him that you don’t really love college. When you guys were at Drexel, was there something about being at Drexel that just got in the way of doing music. Like, you know, having to go to class?
Hell yeah. That’s exactly what it is. In fact, that’s the number one inspiration behind that quote [in the song]. It’s just like, during that time it was like, I love college. You know, that was what was poppin. But for me . . . I’m trying to be in the studio all day and not worry about this test or showin up to this sh-t or doin that. I’m trying to do shows, I’m trying to get out there, and I gotta worry about all these distractions, in a sense. [We’re] all about the books, all about academics, we support that. But we’re musicians, that’s what we do.
To that degree, then, how much of your college experience plays into what you’re doing lyrically?
Actually, lyrically it’ll always come in in a sense because of the fact that we made a decision to leave that world. We made a decision to drop out from college, you know. That’s a big decision to make. And you know I’m referencing that on the album a couple of times. But Chiddy Bang isn’t college rap. It’s transcended that. It’s gone to the UK and Australia and Germany. It’s beyond college rap. It’s different rap, innovative rap, that’s over futuristic beats and dope samples.
When you and Noah are putting together tracks, what happens? Does Noah come up with the beat and you put the lyrics on top of that?
Yeah, that’s exactly what happens. He’ll chop up a sample [and] tell me about it. And when he approaches me with it . . . either the complete beat or a rough version of it in progress . . . I f–k with it and [if] I think it’s dope, I’ll know right away. And so then we’ll just vibe off each other, bounce off ideas. And I’ll cook up some verses and a dope hook and it’s usually a go. Usually doesn’t take long when you got it.
You have a pretty interesting story. Your parents are from Nigeria, but you grew up in Newark, New Jersey. When did you know that music was the thing you wanted to do?
At that time I remember being in the crib turning on TV, seeing Jay-Z. I was about 11 years old. I think I came into myself by taking after the music that influenced me during that critical time in my life. I mean, growing up, like 11, 12, 13, 14, those are the years of development, and that’s the music that affected me. I take after a lot of Jay-Z stuff, with the cadence and the way he delivers his sh-t. Growing up, rap was what everybody did where I was at. It was like a sport.
Where’s been your favorite place to play so far?
We played at Scotland one time. And that was a big experience for me. And Glasgow is amazing. It’s medieval-like. The buildings are set out of the 1400s, it’s quite crazy.
You guys have an album slated to drop in August? What can listeners expect from it?
“Opposite of Adults” has already chosen itself to be the single, ‘cause people are going crazy about it. But we got some other sh-t that we cooked up. We got some dope sh-t, I can’t even go in to speak about it. But when you hear it, you’re gonna be like, “Wow, that is some dope sh-t.” The album is taking the music that we’ve previously done to another level. It’s a very true story based on the ‘plusses and minuses’ of making it where we’ve made it. It’s gonna be reflective, introspective, but at the same time, we’re having fun.