Chiddy Bang - The Swelly Express Mixtape
Label: Self Released
Release Date: 10/29/2009
When it comes to samples in hip hop, it’s really hit or miss. Using someone’s own craft and making it your own isn’t the easiest of things to do. Classics of soul, rock, and folk have all been used as something new and fresh. But it was only a matter of time before someone who noticed the incredible potential of sampling indie music stormed onto the hip-hop scene. Enter Chiddy Bang, the project of two nineteen year old kids: Chidera Anamege and Noah Beresin, aka Xaphoon Jones. The duo assembled at Drexel University, where they first threw together their mixtape, The Swelly Express on the budget of a typical college student - nothing. Yet the mixtape was a hit with more than just the students; it also ended up taking the local area and internet by storm. Not long afterward, Chiddy Bang was picked up by major label EMI. So what’s so special about Chiddy Bang? What makes them worth your time? They bring a sound that can’t really be defined as rap or hip-hop, but their approach is diverse enough that they can swing most listeners, from the indie elite to the casual top 40 enthusiast.
The Swelly Express is a stacked debut for an emerging hip hop duo. It stays true to the mixtape formula and has a balance of songs and skits. The tracks paint Chiddy Bang’s travels as they make music and live the life of an up and coming act searching for a label. To be blunt, this mixtape is chock full of jams that don’t take a wrong turn at all throughout its 40 minute run time. “Danger Zone” features Chiddy laying his smooth vocal delivery over Ratatat’s “Falcon Jab,” displaying the groups' ear for songs that make picture perfect sense to use as a backdrop. The most impressive track has to be “Truth,” where Xaphoon dices apart Passion Pit’s “Better Things” while still managing to showcase Michael Angelikos' extremely high pitch falsetto. But somehow, Chiddy Bang makes it infectious and lovable, even for the haters. “Slow Down” does the same thing, being the most down-tempo song on The Swelly Express. On it, Chiddy brings down the energy for a bit to bring in a few guest spots, namely a special appearance by The Root’s Black Thought and elDee The Don. Their presence make the track a true slow shot Philly joint - one that closes with a sexy guitar lick.
“Opposite of Adults” is the pop masterpiece that helped the boys get their name out there. The sample takes a chopped-up version of MGMT’s biggest hit “Kids” and runs with it, taking their catchy synthesizer line to new heights. The Swelly Express wraps up with “All Things Go,” a number that pays ode to indie god Sufjan Stevens by sampling his classic “Chicago.” Xaphoon does another reputable job by picking up the pace and adding a simple bouncing synth line over the top, constructing a perfect platform for Chiddy to do his thing and let his style show.
Chiddy Bang is a group that will follow in the steps of artists like Kid Cudi. They have massive pop radio appeal, but can still be appreciated by hipsters. With an EP that dropped recently and an album in August, they can consider age but a number, and the sky the limit. These boys are going to take the world by storm by bringing back the one-two, MC/DJ combo the right way - by believing that originality exists and that creativity is at your fingertips. The Swelly Express is just the first stepping stone to stardom for these kids. It’s hard to not pay attention to their upbeat music and carefree style, but hey, even if it's not your thing, they won’t judge you. Just remember where they came from when you see their name in lights.