Rolling Stone suggests that your enjoyment of Philly duo Chiddy Bang’s full-length debut Breakfast “rests on your ability to endure the self-consciously cute.”
Okay, Rolling Stone, I’m sorry that Leonard Cohen can’t make every album ever and that you don’t know how to have any fun. Also, let’s clear some things up: Taylor Swift is “self-consciously cute.” Regina Spektor is “self-consciously cute.” Lumping Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege’s creative flows and Noah “Xaphoon Jones” Beresin’s infectious beats into the same category comes off like a horrible Randy Jackson analogy on Idol (not everything is “Indie,” Randy) and is just bizarrely wrong.
Well that’s off my chest.
The reality is that Breakfast doesn’t have to pretend to be something it’s not, and it thrives on the strength of how much straightforward fun it delivers, all while being braggadocious but not pompous. If Kanye and Jay-Z came to establish uncontested dominance in the rap game, then Chiddy and Xaph “just came to party,” as you’ll find in “Handclaps & Guitars,” a track that puts the pop in hip-hop (“pop-hop”?) and sets up the album’s two singles, “Ray Charles” and anti-hater anthem “Mind Your Manners.” Those already familiar with Chiddy Bang will probably recognize one or both of these, as they’ve been out for some time (especially “Manners”). They’re Breakfast‘s two strongest tracks as well, and although we gave the nod to “Ray” for our February playlist, the lyric video for “Manners” is pretty great:
Breakfast may solidify Chiddy Bang’s entry into mainstream hip-hop, and it’s an entertaining journey from end to end. Other notable tracks include “Run It Back,” the most R&B-tinged offering on the album; “Happening,” a bouncy track whose hook admittedly dips a toe in the cute waters (although it’s more inspired than trite, and the big mistake is characterizing the whole album as such); and “4th Quarter,” a track full of swagger that allows the album to finish strong. There are traces of Chiddy’s influences throughout (most notably the shout-out to Kanye’s “devil in a new dress” in second track “Breakfast”), but the production isn’t lacking in originality. It’s a rare example of a positive hip-hop album and there’s certainly no menace here, but what else would you expect from a duo who was sitting in college classrooms two years ago and whose defining vernacular includes the phrases “swelly” and “pretty much amazing”?
It’s hard to root against Chiddy, and it’s a deceptively difficult feat to produce an album that’s as accessible, clever, and original as Breakfast is. It’s currently sitting pretty as the #8 album in the US, and while popularity doesn’t necessarily equate to quality (AHEM PITBULL), it looks like plenty of people can “endure” Chiddy Bang just fine.
Here’s a cute picture of Regina Spektor.
(3) “Handclaps & Guitars”
(4) “Mind Your Manners” (feat. Icona Pop)
(5) “Ray Charles”
(7) “Run It Back” (feat. Shirazi)
(11) “Talking To Myself”
(14) “4th Quarter”