Basing themselves off of Philadelphia staples The Roots and Diplo, City of Brotherly Love duo Chiddy Bang wants the basement party vibe delivered handsomely to the Pop market. With an MGMT-sampling hit, an EMI Records deal and Drexel University degrees, Xaphoon and Chiddy have a future so bright, they have to wear shades.
However, if you live in the United States, you may not have heard them yet. These teenagers, who met on the West Philadelphia college campus started making music instantly. They explain why word-of-mouth is the greatest aid to a band, meeting Black Thought at a historic train station, and never losing sight of that basement vibe.
On Meeting at Drexel University: “I was a Music Industry major always making beats and stuff and when you are a Music Industry student you get keys to the studio so there were a lot of people hitting me up saying, ‘Yo I rap I want to get in.'” said Xaphoon. “Anyway, my boy Zach was talking about this kid, Chiddy, saying, ‘He raps, he’s dope,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, whatever. I heard him at a party and he freestyled and absolutely killed it. He just had the perfect timber for a Rap voice. We sat down, made down a few tunes and it was literally instant. Our single, ‘Opposite of Adults,’ we made like the third week of school and it was like the third song we made. The recording process was just that easy.”
I Love College: Chiddy admitted, “I learned one very important thing as a Business major. I learned to follow-through. We met Black Thought of The Roots after our first big college show outside the area of Philly. We were coming back from it and it was crazy. Kids knew the words and everything. While walking back at five a.m., we get to 30th Street Station in West Philly. We are all excited after our show, so we approach him and say, ‘You got to check out our music.’ However, we didn’t have any music to hand him, we only had a MySpace. It’s kind of corny to be like, ‘Yo, check out our MySpace,’ the first time we see him. So I remember this thing I learned in Business called following up. After the meeting with Black Thought, I sent him a message saying, ‘You’re a big influence on us, we met you at the train station. If you get a chance, listen to our music we think you would like it.’ He sent us back a message with his number saying, ‘Yo, you sampled MGMT. That’s crazy,’ and yea it was just history being made since then. We got him on our mixtape.
The Hustle: “Well we had a lot of different strategies,” said Xaphoon. “My boy Zach and I tried to figure out ways that we can get everything done. One of the first things we did was we would make songs on the weekends, mixing them on Mondays and Tuesdays and giving them out to people on Wednesdays, so when the weekend rolls around that is what’s getting on their iPods. Eventually, we started to play at parties. Everyone was feeling it, so you first build that word-of-mouth buzz. Then you go to the blogs. Don’t go to the big blogs because they aren’t going to play your shit because they are getting a million hits a day. You just have to figure out who the big blogs read because those are smaller blogs and they are more open-minded about new people. After sampling MGMT, we started to find out how they built their buzz because they were Wesleyan [University] students [in a similar musical circumstance]. Different colleges started hearing them and burning their CDs. More power than the labels, more power then the Internet is word-of-mouth. It’s the most powerful thing in the world. Colleges are little beehives of word-of-mouth all around the country. Colleges set the trend because they are all young people. They translate to the streets, the labels and everybody else. That is the hustle.”
All Samples Cleared: “Sampling is what made all of the US labels really hesitant in the beginning, and that’s why it took a UK label to put out first single,” explained Xaphoon. “I don’t really pick the samples so much as opposed to just chopping up everything I love. It’s really Chiddy that does [that]. When I see his eyes light up after hearing a beat, I know I have to go back to the drawing board. Just like, it’s up to him to draw me to make that good beat its up to me to draw the beat for him to make that good verse.”
Reception In The UK: “The reception in the UK has been crazy,” said Chiddy. “It was definitely unexpected. We did not expect to do 100,000 downloads in one month. We put out the single ‘Opposite of Adults’ in the UK, and we didn’t know where we would end up. The response was crazy though. It was #12 on the charts, #8 on iTunes and this was before anyone in the US ever heard and it was kind of crazy because we were American.”
Next Up: “We are going to release an EP in June with a couple of other original tracks,” revealed Chiddy. “More importantly, we have our album that we are working on, and it’s going to be released at the end of August. We have a whole bunch of secret collaborations that we worked on. It’s going to be really dope. One of the important things to note about this is that we made our mixtape, The Swelly Express on no budget ,and now we are signed, we have the budget, bring in instruments and everything like that. Expect our normal formula, but with a lot of major stuff.”
All The Way Live: “I deejay and play the drums at the same time, while Chiddy raps,” explained Xaphoon. “Our live show goal is to try and be like Diplo-meets-The Roots. [We] have the live deejay element and live drums element. Chiddy always kills it on the freestyle. We try and keep shit real old school, we ask the crowd for the topics so they know it’s not pre-written, and we try and keep that formal party atmosphere from day-one, playing basement shows in West Philly.”