A hip-hop twist on MGMT’s “Kids” took Philadelphia-based duo Chiddy Bang from general obscurity, to the buzz of a strong UK fanbase, to being the hottest thing on U.S. college campuses since Asher Roth. With an distinct sound, courtesy of Xaphoon Jones’ bubbly hip-hop/indie pop fusion the duo has finally put together their debut studio album Breakfast, 2 years after breaking into the mainstream with “Opposite of Adults.”
Breakfast sticks to the formula of Chiddy spitting bars over synth-driven indietronica soundscapes. The lead single “Mind Your Manners” once again captures that infectious energy they struck gold with on “Opposite of Adults,” as do a few others, (“Ray Charles,” “Happening,” “Talkin’ to Myself,”). Throughout Breakfast, Xaphoon Jones dishes Ratatat-esque synths and other tasty sonic tricks that are the most enjoyable parts of this meal. A balancing act between a frenetic drum pattern and an acoustic guitar (“Run it Back”), an electric guitar that kicks in 1:50 into “Handclaps & Guitars,” and the sampling of 8 bit gaming console sounds on “Baby Roulette,” are all ear pleasing even without Chiddy rapping over it. But then there’s Chiddy’s rapping over it.
His delivery is tailor made for Xaphoon’s buoyant production, but listening to what he’s delivering is where things get ugly. Chiddy raps about nothing in a way that makes rappers who rap about nothing blush. If the goal is to share how fly (or uhh, “swell”?) he is, tell us how. If he wants to talk about all the weed he smokes (which he does in unconvincing fashion), let ‘em know about the loud you’re smoking on. Chiddy settles for merely mentioning things, never breaking the surface of any subject he touches on.
Ultimately, radio friendly hooks and Xaphoon’s backdrops are the foundation of (and saving grace?) of the Chiddy Bang’s studio debut. Except it doesn’t really feel like a hearty breakfast; more like a pack of bubblegum. Enjoyable? Sure, but at the end of the day what are we really consuming here? Breakfast should serve its purpose though, playing soundtrack to campus parties across the nation, and rightfully so. It’s a pretty fun album to listen to—just don’t listen too closely. —NMB