Skip to content

Chiddy Bang: Breakfast of Champions.

March 18, 2012

Even though the recently released Breakfast is their debut album, Chiddy Bang are by no means new to the game.

The duo behind it all, Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege and Noah “Xaphoon Jones” Beresin, met while attending Drexel University a few years ago and have been dropping music ever since. They’ve been more places and done more things than most 21-year olds, including having The Roots back them on late night television.

Our Colin Kerrigan finds out how it all started, what they eat for breakfast and more. Images by Colin Kerrigan.

Drexel is a pretty big school. How’d you guys meet?

Chiddy: We were freshman in the fall of ‘08. He was a music industry major and I was a business major kid. I was the kid who was like, “School’s cool and all that but I want to get into the (music) lab. Like how do I do that right now?” So naturally my first instinct, I thought I needed to find myself a music industry kid who had access to the lab or the studio. And he presented himself (pointing to Noah). And we got into the studio.

Noah: At the time, I had already met the studio manager and he saw that I knew what I was doing. Even though the studio was reserved for juniors and seniors, I got him to grant my swipe card access. No other freshman had access to Studio E, the one with all the turntables and synths.

I think we met at a party and Chiddy was rap-battling some dude. What struck me about Chiddy is that every word that he said, you could hear. I grew up with the typical Philly rap mumble where you can understand very little words (he laughs). And at the time, I was looking for a rapper who could cut through the mix, someone like Jay-Z where you hear every word he’s saying. Like sonically, really on point. And that was Chid.

What was your musical upbringing like?

Noah: My main instrument is the piano. I used to play at the Clef Club growing up. They have a program for kids. Its on Broad and Fitzwater. I used to go there when I was like 10-, 12-years old and play with all these amazing jazz arrangers. They had Leon Mitchell, who was an arranger for Duke Ellington, just giving music theory lessons. It was a really amazing place to be.

I wanted to be a jazz musician until I was like 13 or 14. Then I found hip hop and was like, “Game over.”

Chiddy: My musical upbringing was more just listening to music, ya know? A lot of Dipset, Jay-Z’s The Blueprint, Kanye West’s College Dropout. I grew up freestyling, though. That’s how I came into the whole music thing. Freestyle rappin’, ciphering with people on the phone in like 8th grade. We’d be on the phone ciphering, playing beats in the background.

Where did you guys grow up?

Noah: The first house I lived in was at 46th and Spruce cause my mom was teaching at Penn during that time. She was actually going to Penn at the same time to get her Ph.D.. She was like a teaching assistant, I think. We were at 46th and Spruce in West Philly and then we needed a bigger place to live cause we lived above a doctor’s office or something. So we moved to Mount Airy and I grew up there. When I was 18 and wanted to live on my own, I lived in South Philly. So between West Philly, Mount Airy and 13th street in South Philly, I’ve lived in a lot of places in Philly. I have a very deep connection.

I didn’t even want to go to Drexel. I didn’t even want to go to college. I went to Masterman for high school on 17th and Spring Garden and they were like the best magnet school of the public schools. So they were like, “Everyone in here is going to college. We have, like, a 100 percent going-to-college and graduation rate.” But I never wanted to go to college cause I wanted to work on music. My mom was like, “You know, you should go to Drexel. You have a scholarship. It makes sense and you might meet some people. You might find some more people to make music with.” I had plenty of kids to make music with but they didn’t want me to be in their bands. I was just their recording engineer. I recorded this rapper Theodore Grams, who taught me how to make beats and stuff. But I didn’t have my own project. So my mom was like, “Maybe if you go to Drexel, you’ll have your own project.”

I lived in the dorms at Drexel on 34th and Arch. I lived in Towers on the 8th floor and Chiddy lived in the next one over, Calhoun, from the start of freshman year in 2008.

We were a four or five-piece band when we started out. In May or June of freshman year, I think Chiddy was deciding if he wanted to be a solo artist rapper or have a group of us work with him. Nothing was certain and he was going off with his new manager who we never met and it was terrifying. So we didn’t know anything that was going on. Chiddy went away to tour with De La Soul for a little bit and we were not included. I went and got a job at a summer camp. I was not a good camp counselor cause everyday I would be dipping on the phone like, “Yo lawyer, what’s up? How’s everything going?” Cause I single-handedly produced all of Chiddy’s stuff. The other dudes didn’t help. Chiddy didn’t help. I would just email him beats and he would go to the studio and come back. His manager realized that I owned half the publishing to all the songs since I produced them. So in the fall of 2009, him and his manager kind of gave me the olive branch to get back in the group. They didn’t extend the same olive branch to the other kids in the group, which is something that sucks and is shitty – but it’s real life.

I wanted to stay in school at this point. I was like, “I don’t know if everything’s all good with this Chiddy situation. Like, Mom, maybe I should stay in school another year.” My mom was like, “You’re miserable and clearly talented and know the right people to get started so get out of school.” And I was just lucky enough to have a mom who knew when it was important to be in school and also knew when it was the right time to leave school. So that’s my advice… if your mom’s smart, trust her. If she’s not smart, then don’t.

Chiddy: For me, I drifted. I got Nigerian parents so I know how they are with the school thing. I knew in my heart of hearts what was gonna happen and what was gonna occur. I just sort of held on to school for as long as I could. When the summertime came, it became more and more apparent that I wasn’t gonna go back there. I enrolled part time at a state school near my house. They (his parents) were cool with that since they saw stuff happening with the music thing. They were like, “You can do the music thing as long as you take a couple of classes.” I did that for a while until I was like, “No more.” I went to class for like a month then I eventually just stopped going. It’s been music ever since, full time.

Your album had been in the works for a while. I heard rumors it was coming out last year, and then a few months ago. What’s the story?

Noah: We did half of it in West London, in a studio called Wendy House Studios. I would walk over around 11 a.m., lay down piano and work on the string section. We did the other half in Los Angeles at Moonwine Studios, which is the craziest fucking studio. They got a nice backyard. It’s really simple. It’s really cheap. The space is the nicest thing about it. We did one track in Philly at this dude’s studio in Fishtown called Cedar Street Studios. Then we put the finishing touches on it at Stadium Red in Harlem. So we went from Los Angeles to UK to Philly to New York.

So your album is called Breakfast? How did you guys decide on that for the album?

Noah: It started out as me and Chiddy realizing breakfast had so many meanings. We would always have something crazy good happen to us while we were eating breakfast. We found out that we went platinum in Australia when we were eating breakfast. Then breakfast came to mean another thing. It came to mean to provide for people around you, to rep where you’re from and to make sure everyone on your team is eating, and everyone in your family is eating breakfast.

Chiddy: When I broke the world record (for longest freestyle), MTV asked me if there was anything I needed. I said I needed breakfast in the morning (he laughs). It’s just a key theme for us in terms of whenever something good happens.

This is a cheesy question, but what’s your breakfast of choice?

Noah: I put him on eggs Benedict. He didn’t know about that.

Chiddy: I didn’t know about that. But now I love it.

Noah: My dad makes breakfast in our family. He makes toast, eggs and coffee, and somehow it manages to be the best shit ever.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: