Chiddy Bang—the Philadelphia/New Jersey duo consisting of rapper Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege and DJ/producer Noah “Xaphoon Jones” Beresin—has definite reasons to feel good. The fun-loving duo’s Virgin Records-debut, Breakfast, quietly surfaced at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 and No. 5 on the Billboard Current Albums charts back in February, having spawned the bubbling single “Ray Charles,” which they performed on NBC’s The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. They’re also pushing their current single, “Mind Your Manners,” which features Travie McCoy from Gym Class Heroes. In addition, they’ll be joining the likes of Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q and more on the upcoming Under The Influence of Music Tour next month. Here, Chiddy Bang sits down with XXL to talk about Breakfast’s success, the Under The Influence Tour, their Taco Bell commercial and Lil B being the inspiration for “Ray Charles.” Bang! —Mark Lelinwalla
XXL: Your album has been received well with solid write-ups—including an A from Entertainment Weekly—to respectable reviews from fans. How do you guys feel about that?
Xaphoon Jones: I guess we conceded that this album was primarily going to be for the fans and I think, in that sense, we totally succeeded. We’re very happy about it.
Chiddy: It took us a little bit to sort of get it ironed out. It was our major label debut and we gotta get everything right. It’s different from making mixtape music, picking what we want and putting everything out. Now, with a label, there’s a financial interest and they want to make sure they have the one or two singles they can push. They really got behind us and gave us that push. We were able to debut No. 8.
Xaphoon: It’s really a feeling of thankfulness. As we know, the music industry sells less and less records every day and the areas that do sell well aren’t always rap-related. We’ve created this community of a swarm of rappers, who all have deals, and every once in a while one of them will announce an album release date and people will be like, ‘Oh my God, he’s going for it! Oh, the album’s going to do this. Oh, the album is going to flop.’ And then it will get pushed back or not released. Just to have a release date and to sell more records than we thought we would is an honor.
Chiddy: My personal triumph is when we went to Germany and did three different cities. We did a show in Hamburg, Cologne and Berlin. When we went to Cologne, it was live as fuck and it was one of the first times we did cuts off the album. They received it so well.
Xaphoon: And they don’t even speak English!
Chiddy: It was like, “Aight, that’s what’s up!”
You have good company on the upcoming Under The Influence of Music Tour. Talk about that.
Chiddy: It’s the Under the Influence of Music Tour. It’s going to be Wiz, Kendrick, Mac, Schoolboy Q.
Have you talked to anybody from the tour?
Xaphoon: I sent beats to Q.
Chiddy: Mac, Wiz we run into them whenever. We’ll bump into Wiz doing a VMA interview or something. He’ll crash the interview. He’s genuinely a real good dude.
Xaphoon: We just did a Sun God festival in San Diego and one of the other people playing was Macklemore, who was on the XXL Freshman cover. He came up to us like, ‘Yo, I can’t believe you got on that tour. Every rapper is trying to get on that tour!’ You put it in perspective…it’s really good company to be in.
Describe the experience being in a Taco Bell commercial. No offense to y’all, but such a big national look is usually reserved for bigger, more mainstream artists. How was it?
Chiddy: Absolutely. Taco Bell does this thing where they provide artists with food on the road. We’re always on the go and they’ll give you this card for free Taco Bell. It was the first Taco Bell commercial that used original music.
Xaphoon: They usually use stock music. Initially, we gotta lot of Taco Bell jokes.
Chiddy: But you can never count that look out. Looks and things of that nature, everyone reacts and sees it. It was big for us and our music.
Xaphoon: Yeah, the partnership is good and all that, but anything that gets the music into the consciousness of people is good for us. We’re up for any Taco Bell has for us. We love Taco Bell!
What was the inspiration behind “Ray Charles”?
Chiddy: “Ray Charles” was basically one of those late night 2 a.m. sessions.
Xaphoon: It was a tribute to another XXL Freshman, Lil B, who says, “I’m anybody. I’m Ellen DeGeneres.” If you judge him on lyrics, you’re missing the whole picture of what Lil B’s about. If you notice the people who hate Lil B, it’s never the artists, it’s the fans, who judge rappers on their lyrical content. I hate Lil B because I love Jay Electronica. But he’s in pictures with Diddy and Lil Wayne.
Chiddy: It’s tipping the hat to Lil B for bringing that conversational, off the top style that’s inspired by real-life incidents. In this particular incident, my brother was sitting next to me, late night in the studio, with his dark shades on. I didn’t know if he was awake or sleeping, but his head was tilted back. So, I just look over at him and tell everyone in the studio, “Yo, you look like Ray Charles right now.” I just ran into the booth and freestyled Ray Charles as the overall subject. It ended up being a song, which at the end of the day, gave us a release date.
Beside the Tour, what does the summer have in store for you guys?
Chiddy: Play in festivals, make music by the beach.
That’s a helluva life.
Xaphoon: Oh yeah.