Review: Chiddy Bang throws an irresistible hip-hop party at the North Star

Chiddy Bang - Noah "Xaphoon Jones" Beresin (left), Chidera "Chiddy" Anamege - played the North Star Wednesday.
Chiddy Bang - Noah "Xaphoon Jones" Beresin (left), Chidera "Chiddy" Anamege - played the North Star Wednesday.
Posted: March 02, 2012

It's taken a while for Breakfast, the debut album by Philadelphia hip-pop duo Chiddy Bang released Tuesday, to finally be served. The band comprising Chidera "Chiddy" Anamege and Noah "Xaphoon Jones" Beresin first began making noise in the music industry when their song "Opposite of Adults" became a British pop-chart hit two years ago.

So you couldn't blame Beresin for showing so much unbridled enthusiasm during the group's sold-out, all-ages hometown show at the North Star Bar on Wednesday that he told the equally excited audience to do something contrary to Chiddy Bang's best interests.

"We just put out our album," the producer and multi-instrumentalist said after he, Anamege, and their four-piece band knocked out the typically grabby and soulful "Baby Roulette." "You can buy [it] on iTunes. You can buy [it] in the record store. You can download it illegally on the Internet. We don't care, we're just happy that it's out."

Anamege and Beresin, both 21, met in 2008 as freshmen in the music-business program at Drexel University. And with their early singles "Opposite of Adults," which draws on MGMT's song "Kids," and "All Things Go," which pulls from Sufjan Stevens' "Chicago," the duo quickly established themselves as a rising hip-hop act with a rep for sampling indie-rock hits.

The much-delayed Breakfast, which was preceded by two 2010 EPs and a handful of mixtapes, does some more indie-rock sampling. But the album, which entered the Billboard Top 200 album chart this week at No. 8, also digs deeper for more obscure source material such as the Swedish duo Icona Pop. Their "Manners" fuels Chiddy Bang's "Mind Your Manners," the first of several songs to set off a pogo party at Wednesday's show.

But Chiddy Bang have more going for them than just the sly use of samples. For one thing, there's Anamege's consistently engaging, free-of-pretense rapping, with which he set a Guinness world record last year for freestyling more than nine hours straight. At the North Star, he showed off his skills throughout an hour-long set that included two Beresin-produced songs for rapper Big Sean on which Anamege guested.

Beresin, for his part, is a beat-maker with a feel for pop ear-candy. He's just as apt to come up with a super-catchy riff on his own as he is to dig one out of a used-vinyl record-store crate. The piano vamp that buoys "Ray Charles," the duo's current hit, which was performed as an encore, with a sweaty Anamege spitting rhymes with a towel on his head and, yes, dark glasses covering his eyes, sounds like it must have been pulled from some irresistible old R&B record. In fact it's a wholly original creation.

That musicality bodes well for the long-term prospects of Chiddy Bang, whose facility at creating accessible party raps might lead them to be unfairly dismissed as lightweights. Even without the benefit of a sound check, the group sounded tight and together throughout their North Star set.

Anamege and Beresin used to perform as a duo, with the latter on drums and laptop-triggered samples. They're now functioning as a fleshed-out band, with an in-the-pocket rhythm section augmented by two keyboard players and a DJ. The filled-out approach gave Breakfast's songs added sustenance.


Contact music critic Dan DeLuca at 215-854-5628 or deluca@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @delucadan. Read his blog, "In the Mix," at www.philly.com/inthemix.

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