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Over the past couple of years, Philadelphia duo (sometimes trio, sometimes foursome) Chiddy Bang have slowly been building a name for themselves among indie hip-hop circles, but 2011 seems destined to be the year they explode. Later this month, they’ll share a stage at The Bamboozle with Wiz Khalifa and Lil Wayne; they are fresh off some buzz-worthy sets at SXSW; and their debut LP, Breakfast, is slated for a summer release.
Some of the pair’s notoriety has come from their choice of samples–which have included acts ranging from MGMT and Radiohead to Tom Waits–but one listen to “Sooner or Later” makes it clear that their acclaim hasn’t come as the result of any musical gimmickry. This track comes from last year’s Opposite of Adults EP and showcases rapper Chiddy Anamege’s slinky wordplay and Xaphoon Jones’ dexterity with creating engaging musical pastiches.
“Sooner or Later” is prefaced by a vocal sample from Fela Kuti (with whom Anamege shares a Nigerian lineage) before kicking into a Ratatat-style groove: electric guitar chords click off like a metronome, playing off a syncopated synthesizer pattern to create a propulsive beat premised as much on empty space as it is on digital bass drum kicks. Elsewhere, Anamege brings both humor and depth to his lyrics. “If you got to take a glimpse at my family life / You would lose your mind–Chris Brown on Grammy night,” he sings on the track.
While the punchline is rooted in a pop-cultural zinger, it also speaks to one of the song’s prominent themes, namely how to balance American concepts of the hood and the hard knock life while being cognizant of the more fundamental struggles faced by Anamege’s relatives in the African former British colony.
Think you got it tough because you’re in the hood?
I am positive you would be in upset mode
When you wear the same thing like you got a dress code
I guess I am guilty of being privileged
Cause while I am in the booth, my cousin is in the village
These lyrics slip in so quickly they can easily go undetected, but Chiddy Bang builds their songs around beautiful moments like this one where enthralling beats intersect with something more meaningful.