Through their own breed of backpack rap, rap duo Chiddy Bang comes prepared with the tools necessary to graduate at the top of the hipster class. The subgenre backpack rap is known for its relatable lyrical content and use of unconventional song samples. Chiddy Bang is known for a slew of mixtapes packed with college-party-friendly narratives and accompanied by samples of the likes of MGMT, Sufjan Stevens and Passion Pit. Now, Chiddy Bang returns with their debut album Breakfast, a meal that is easily digested but leaves the listener unfulfilled because of its lack of progression.
What has always benefited Chiddy Bang is their quirky and unconventional approach to hip-hop. From their eclectic production to their humorous lyrics, the rap duo prefers to be class clown rhymers over gun-toting gangbangers. The title track reinforces as such: “Get the Based God / call Ellen on ’em,” says vocalist Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege, his punchline a quick chuckle to listeners that catch his reference to alternative rapper Lil B.
Lead single “Mind Your Manners” begins with arena-sized vocals and acoustic guitar, reminding listeners of why the duo can hold their own at the world’s largest festivals. “Take a second look and you’ll see / there is no one like me,” sings guest vocalist Icona Pop, with spurts of Passion Pit-inspired synths and electronic percussion following behind.
Although there may not be any depth to Chiddy Bang’s narratives, they’re easy to relate to; Jones doesn’t rely too much on hip hop cliches (money, weed, drugs and women), and even when he does, it’s not as hyperbolic as the luxurious lifestyle lyrics of his contemporaries.
What has always been a pivotal component of Chiddy Bang’s music is its production by Noah Beresin. From the down-home, gospel-driven “Ray Charles” to the track destined for danceclub greatness “Run It Back,” there is a sample of delectable treats that are drizzled in Nintendo 8-bit fuzz synths and soul piano.
Like their music, Chiddy Bang is living in the moment: there are no forecasts of the future, just reminiscing over the past and their present success. They’re like the cool kids in high school who are friends with people from every demographic. Chiddy Bang appeals to everyone, but the group stays in their comfort zone, relying on familiar sounds and ideas that do not indicate any significant experimentation or progress.
Breakfast is an adequate first release from the duo. The challenge with future releases will be how the group continues to bridge the gap between the “hustle by any means necessary” aesthetic of hip-hop and the “we don’t care, we are who we are” mentality of indie rock.
Printed on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 as: Rap duo stays in comfort zone