Philadelphia indie rap group Chiddy Bang, which consists of rapper Chiddy and his sole beatsmith Xaphoon Jones, invite listeners to get hype over “Breakfast,” its first LP after a slew of critically acclaimed mixtapes and Chiddy’s nine-hour freestyle session. Regardless of previous efforts, the last peg in a band’s assumed climb to fame receives the most scrutiny. In that case, having breakfast may be a bit difficult if the table lacks two of its legs.
Corny metaphor aside, this album neatly boils down to a formulaic yet commendable collection of beats aimlessly slathered by Chiddy’s lousy rhymes. The vibe coming off of the album as a whole is a delicious smorgasbord of college-era nonchalance and unbridled coolness, whereas the lyrics and delivery in turn suggest a plain bowl of redundancy and wannabe posturing.
Chiddy Bang’s dilemma has befallen many fledgling hip hop acts, and will not be the last. Xaphoon Jones exists in a long line of beatmakers unjustly picking up the slack for uninspired rappers. At least his booming and triumphant production carries the album; “Does She Love Me?” sounds like a Graduation-era Kanye West beat, with the chipmunk vocal and zooming synth over funky drums, and the chosen single “Ray Charles” makes good use of a piano roll and an exuberant chorus, and feels like a solid interpolation of that Motown vibe.
As for Chiddy’s contribution to “Ray Charles”? Well, he certainly tries his least: “See us and say, ‘Whattup?’ like how the fuck is he talkin’/He don’t even trip, like how the fuck is he walkin.” He raps like a person who just learned how to rap, as implied by his forced use of ebonics and his dependence on weed as a topic: “And that’s quite amazing if they ask me/Shit, does somebody have a L that they could pass me?”
At the end of the day, “Ray Charles” and the rest of this album are about nothing. And the one song that miraculously stays on topic, “Baby Roulette,” just happens to be a “Gold Digger” imitation. Now, these guys clearly had a good “college-indie” concept in mind when forming the group, and that has blossomed quite well in the production department. However, Chiddy’s aspiration of becoming another rich stoned rapper instead of writing from the heart throws that conceit out the window. Hard to enjoy “Breakfast” when expecting a plate of steak and eggs but ending up with soggy cereal.