In honor of MGMT coming to Spring Fling, I’m going to taste as much mixed-up electronica as possible, because there’s a very good chance the actual show will be a let down. However, my friend reminded me today of the rap group that has been called “the hipster’s wet dream”: Chiddy Bang samples MGMT and channels the new softer instrumental-heavy rap that’s spreading with the likes of Ratatat and their followers.
Their titles are blatant references to the indie-pop songs they sample and they’re unapologetic about building on others’ music. I’m not even sure I feel comfortable calling what their final product “rap” – it’s more like an experiment with mixing layers and sounds, but whatever it is, it’s damn good, and probably better on MySpace than live (much like Spring Fling promises to be. Oh well, I’m still gonna rage for MGMT.)
A little bit of MGMT…
“Opposite of Adults” samples, predictably, “Kids” by MGMT. The intro, though jolting at first, brings us into their pulsating layers. The lyrics aren’t groundbreaking – “Somebody tell Roth that I don’t love college/’Cause the real world’s kinda like Real World” – they feel like a rapped version of a Chuck Klosterman essay as Chiddy Bang unabashedly spins us through the familiar images of our youth’s cultural icons: Ron Burgundy, Rock Band, cereal aisles.
… And Passion Pit …
“Truth” samples Passion Pit’s “Better Things.” The cultural allusions persist – Chiddy Bang is apparently “well-endowed like Harvard and Yale” and a “ladies’ man like Jesse Katzopolous.” Though the track could easily be the beat in a slightly Eurotrashy club, there’s an earnestness in Chiddy Bang that connects because it embraces a universality of disparate musical styles.
… And some Sufjan for good measure.
“All Things Go” draws from Sufjan Stevens’ serene “Chicago.” The chorus from Sufjan is sung in an Alvin-and-the-Chipmunks style and there’s more free-form rap in this track than in a lot of the others, but it’s no less integrative than the others. Chiddy Bang is wonderfully self-aware, rapping about their own MySpace page and growing from old tracks. There are no pretensions about what they’re talking to us about – “do they really love us or is this just a fling?” – but they aren’t afraid to bring to life other artists’ music in their reflections.
Sometimes the quest for originality in new music yields painful results, but Chiddy Bang successfully avoids that pitfall by making unoriginality original.