Like many cross-genre duos, pinpointing your sound can be a daunting task, one that DXnext alumni Chiddy Bang seemed quite capable of pinning. When producer Noah “Xaphoon Jones” Beresin and rapper Chidera “Chiddy” Anemage joined forces at Drexel University and recorded their first mixtape The Swelly Express at school, it was a mishmash of sounds that somehow collectively fit. Rarely can anyone take MGMT and Tom Waits samples and still call it “Hip Hop” and mean it, but they did. After the mixtape sparked 100,000 in downloads and the group inked a world record deal with EMI, their recording budget clearly went up, but sadly their uniqueness went down. The Preview, an eight-track EP reflects the transition from using pots and pans to drum samples, pulling the raw talent that these two offered just a year ago.
That isn’t to say this short EP is bad. It’s actually quite good, with the introductory “The Good Life” serving as an excellent entrance into the project. Pharrell co-produced it with signature Neptunes swooshes and synths that fit the band so well that they could join the ranks of Star Trak (then again if they did that their album would never drop). Their first single “Opposite of Adults” was thrown on The Preview for good measure, and other standout tracks include the electronically poignant “Truth” and the pensive “Old Ways.”The remainder sound like Travie McCoy, Shwayze, N.A.S.A., and Diplo’s cousin all got into a room and recorded a batch of songs. While this formula is a surefire success on the Pop front, it devalues what we expected from the Swelly folk early on.
The Preview is proof that Chiddy can rap and Xaphoon Jones can produce. However, as the anticipation builds for their debut LP The Swelly Life, let’s hope Chiddy Bang remembers their Drexel days and adds at least some of that energy into their first album.