Chiddy Bang

Virgin / I.R.S., 2012

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love


Okay, so this album technically dropped in February of 2012, and I’m a little bit late to the party. But what I lack in promptness I make up for in enthusiasm: Breakfast, the debut album from rap duo Chiddy Bang (aka rapper Chidera "Chiddy" Anamege and beat maker extraordinaire Noah "Xaphoon Jones" Beresin), is by far one of the best albums of the year. It’s a slice of hip-hop mastery that also manages to swerve into delightful pop, utterly catchy without being cheesy.

Breakfast comes on the heels of three two self released mixtapes, The Swelly Express (2009), Air Swell (released in the UK), and Peanut Butter And Swelly Express (2011). All of this early work exhibits the duo’s early promise and their signature sound: an almost childlike glee, combining creative sampling (see their inspired riff on MGMT’s “Kids,” “Opposite Of Adults”) with beats plucked straight out of video games. Xaphoon Jones and Chiddy make a tight pair, meshing the frontman’s swaggering rhymes with energetic, eclectic beats that keep their work zipping along at quick pace. But it’s my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Breakfast where they’ve really hit their stride.

Every song here is polished and instantly listenable, emblemized in the disc’s tongue-in-cheek lead single “Ray Charles,” a flurry of piano trills and energized horns topped off with a retro, indelible chorus. But I find it hard to pick any favorite on a disc that moves this smoothly, ten tracks and two interludes on which every beat is enjoyable and earned.

The only strange development on Breakfast is the move away from utilizing samples, which were prominent on the duo’s early mixtapes (see “Opposite Of Adults,” the joyously inspired riff on “Opposite Of Adults” that was a viral cult hit). Here, they move towards fashioning their own hooks, resulting in choruses that are deceptively simple and often recall children’s chants or nursery rhymes. Both “Handclaps & Guitars” and “Mind Your Manners” emblematize this sort of lighthearted yet nuanced sound. The former is full of electronic, shimmering swills and an insousciant chorus, while “Mind Your Manners” (featuring Icona Pop) is a wink and a boast as Chiddy Bang arrives on the scene in full blaze.

Even when they move into a poppier sound, like on the slick, almost lounge vibe of “Run It Back” or the dreamy “Out 2 Space,” every cut on this album is so jammed full of tonal shifts that there’s no getting tired here. Chiddy’s vocals are a perfect complement, the vigor to the verve of Jones’ beats.

But my absolute favorite is “Talking To Myself,” one of the simpler moments here that nevertheless manages to shine on its pure soulfulness, so earnest in a sea of swagger. The chorus gets delivered in a smooth falsetto –“If you ever hear me talking to myself / I’m just running through the words I have to say to you / Is it over or is it too soon to tell? / I’m just trying not to push myself away from you” – which pairs nicely with the breakdown of crooning and violins near the end of the song. While “Ray Charles” and “Handclaps & Guitars” are the perfect place to start to see Chiddy’s wit and humor, songs like “Talking To Myself” show an even deeper subtlety to their sound.

As summer winds down, I’m all the more drawn to the sun-soaked sounds of Breakfast, reliving all the highs of the season with an album that’s incredibly catchy, showcasing the sound of an incredibly cool new group.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2012 Melanie Love and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Virgin / I.R.S., and is used for informational purposes only.