By Brendan Harte Gilsenan
The suggestions were written on a paper plate: JMU girls, Lucky Charms, condoms, a girl named Christina, New Orleans, Steve Jobs and the Redskins.
A random assortment for sure, but Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege brought them together this past Thursday in the Wilson Hall auditorium.
Pulling subjects from the crowd, Chiddy strung together unrelated themes in a constant flow to show off just how good at freestyling he is.
With 24 heavy black speakers towering over the audience, Chiddy Bang kept the crowd on its feet for the night last Thursday.
“You guys are fucking crazy,” said Xaphoon, the duo’s DJ and drummer, referring to everyone standing when they could have been sitting.
While samples are dominant in Chiddy Bang’s recordings, their volume was subdued, putting an emphasis on Chiddy’s vocals and Xaphoon’s drumming.
Early on, Xaphoon stirred up the crowd by praising the girls at the school.
“You have guys from other schools coming just to hang out with your girls,” he said, prompting a chant of J-M-U.
The audience’s mix of Stones shirts, Zeppelin shirts, Mac Miller shirts and barely-any-shirts reflected Chiddy Bang’s genre-blending music. Their songs often meld hip-hop with catchy hooks from various rock and pop songs.
The pair jokingly called out Jay-Z and Kanye for borrowing a hook for their “Watch the Throne” album.
“We did it first!” Xaph said, before the twosome broke into “I Can’t Stop.”
Chiddy Bang gave insight to many of their songs. From the behind the drum kit, Xaphoon introduced the Train sampled “Baby Roulette” as a song “about the importance of using condoms.”
The most excitement came during the end of “Dancing With the DJ.” Chiddy hopped off stage, and was instantly engulfed by the crowd.
Making his way back on stage, he led the audience in a rendition of “Opposite of Adults” that had everyone singing and jumping along.
With their relaxed stage presence it’s easy to tell the two men in Chiddy Bang don’t have big egos. They’re just regular guys sharing a catchy hook with the audience. The two were able to make the 1,300-person auditorium feel small with their witty banter and constant crowd interaction.
Before sending the JMU crowd out into the night, the duo came back onstage to perform one more song. Xaphoon’s sweat-soaked gray T-shirt showed signs of a hard night’s work.
He let the crowd know the encore was contingent on one thing:
“I need a snapback,” he said.
Instantly, a dozen baseball caps flew toward the stage.
Cocking one to the side, Xaph traded off verses with Chiddy on the show-ending “Too Much Soul.”
Opening for Chiddy Bang was the surprising Chris Webby. Though the up-and-comer seems to lack modesty, he backed it up with impressive rapping skills and a large stage presence.
“A lot people think I’m just a gimmick, another white boy,” he told the crowd. “But I can spit.”
His rhymes were fast and clever, and he sold himself to the audience well. A remarkable number of people in Wilson Hall knew Webby’s music, but for those who didn’t, they were treated to a pleasant surprise.
In the song “Opposite of Adults,” Chiddy preached, “Life is a party.” Putting aside work and worries for the evening, it was difficult to not believe him.