Chiddy of Chiddy Bang, world-record freestyler
“Rapping for nine hours is, like—either you got it, or you don’t.”
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That’s Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege at MTV’s inaugural O Music Awards (for online music) setting a new world record—prior to his closing performance with partner Noah “Xaphoon Jones” Beresin, he’d been freestyling for 9 hours, 18 minutes, and 22 seconds in front of a Guinness judge, using texts from friends and suggestions from Twitter as inspiration and sometimes falling into a Joycean stream-of-consciousness flow.
Anamege started performing and recording with Beresin as Chiddy Bang as a Drexel freshman in 2008; the Philly-based duo straddles the ever-closing hip-hop/indie gap, using live guitars over basement-party beats and samples from such untapped sources as Sufjan Stevens, Tom Waits, and The Crystals—the breakout song “Opposite Of Adults” has a distinctive sample from MGMT’s “Kids.” Chiddy Bang has been playing bigger and bigger shows—including this year’s Bamboozled Fest with Lil Wayne and Wiz Khalifa—and The A.V. Club talked with Anamege a few days after his world-record performance about chapped lips, trying to interact with his straight-faced Guinness proctor, the importance of a good breakfast, and meeting Rebecca Black.
The A.V. Club: So how much recall do you have of the nine hours you were freestyling?
Chidera Anamege: I recall a majority of it—I still haven’t really gotten over the fact that I, like, won that, you know what I mean? Because that’s like a crazy, crazy feat, you know what I’m saying? It definitely felt crazy when I was doing it; it definitely wasn’t something that I was like, “Hey, this is easy.” I was pushing myself and just… doing some shit that is kind of extra, you know? Like freestyling for nine hours is kind of extra. But… we did it, and we got the plaques to prove it.
AVC: Oh, they send you a plaque?
CA: Yeah—I got two of ’em.
AVC: There’s more than one? What are the two for?
CA: The first plaque is like the “longest freestyle rap,” and the second plaque—they gotta send me another plaque—is the “longest continuous rap,” ’cause I broke two records simultaneously. When I did the longest freestyle, I also did the longest time that anybody has ever continuously rapped.
AVC: What are you gonna do with the plaques?
CA: They’re just in my parents’ crib, you know what I’m saying, ’cause I’m still living with the parents. Folks put it up on the wall with all my awards and whatever, plaque stuff, you know. You always gotta send that to the home base, you know what I’m saying? To Mom.
AVC: What did you do to prepare, physically or mentally?
CA: Rapping for nine hours is, like—either you got it, or you don’t. I didn’t really prepare, ’cause I only learned that I was gonna do this maybe a week or two weeks before it, you know what I’m saying? And you can’t really prepare for that. Our preparation comes from the fact that every day I just, you know, smoke a bunch of weed and freestyle; that’s just what I do. Wherever I’m at, I’ll be hanging out, I’ll freestyle off the top.
But I had never, like, consecutively rhymed for a very long time. The longest time before that I had ever rapped freestyle was probably, like, 30 minutes. MTV was like, “Yeah, nine hours is no big deal, you got this.” My manager’s like, “Yo, I’ve seen you do it before,” and I’m like, “Have I? Have I really rapped for nine hours?” But it worked. Ultimately, it happened.
AVC: Did you do anything differently than how you would freestyle for half an hour? Did you speak more quietly?
CA: Definitely, definitely, definitely. It was a pacing game, you know what I’m saying? Because I knew that my problem would not be the actual rhymes. I can rhyme words for days, especially since topics were being submitted, so I had topics in front of me, so I could just take words and rhyme them.
It was more so about saving the energy, storing the energy. The first three hours, I sort of breezed through it, then hours four through six was me toning it down and talking very, very low, relaxing on the couch, you know what I’m saying? Like, leaning back, saving up the energy, ’cause I know it’s gonna be a long haul. I just paced myself, you know what I’m saying?
AVC: What was the room MTV set up for you like?
CA: The room was basically a standard green room. White couches—real, real chill; real, real relaxed. MTV was like, “Anything you need, we want to provide it for you.” They provided us with a whole bunch of Red Bulls, which I drank. And water, chips—all kinds of random things to give me the energy.
What’s funny is like, the chips and stuff—I didn’t even end up eating that. I didn’t eat the whole day—I didn’t even really feel hungry, you know what I’m saying? I had a huge breakfast; I had MTV give me a huge breakfast beforehand. So that’s pretty much the preparation right there—I had a great breakfast. [Laughs.]
They did a couple of interviews [beforehand], and people kept asking me how I was gonna prepare for it. And I was just like, thinking, like, “I’m gonna just do it.” [Laughs.] You know what I’m saying? I just wanted a clear mind, I didn’t want to keep talking and belaboring the fact that I’m about to attempt to do this record, you know what I’m saying? I was just trying to keep my mind clear, relax, chill, take a hot shower the night before. The night before, I didn’t party or anything, I just went to sleep. I got 12 hours of sleep that day. Shit like that.
AVC: The cameras would occasionally cut to this real serious-looking judge. Did you talk to him beforehand?
CA: Yeah, I talked to him. I didn’t really talk to him beforehand—I sort of met him, and then five minutes later we were starting. I didn’t really get to know the dude or anything, but I sort of communicated with him, I think, throughout the freestyle. I went to just like, interact, just like—I checked to make sure that he was, like, fully engaged.
AVC: How did you try to interact with him? Did he interact with you at all?
CA: Yeah—I can’t really remember what I was saying, but it would be along the lines of, “Even this Guinness dude knows I’m gonna win this shit,” like some shit like that. Just talk about how serious he looked or whatever.
’Cause at the end of it, this dude told me that around five hours that he was like, “Yo, even if he gets eliminated right here, that was dope. That was real dope.” Because I don’t exactly kick it with Guinness people every day; it was cool that he was feeling it. I didn’t really know at first, ’cause he was hella serious and shit, but at the end of the day, if somebody’s spitting a flow and you’re feeling it, you’re gonna feel it, like, regardless. It’s gonna translate across the board.
AVC: So what were the rules he was there to enforce?
CA: I could only stop rapping for three seconds—so he was just there throughout the whole thing, like, counting whenever I would stop, counting and timing it, you know what I’m saying?
AVC: Like in a boxing match, “1… 2… 3…”
CA: Pretty much, pretty much. He was, like, super vibing the whole thing. What was crazy is that that was actually the longest time he’s ever physically had to be there for any of the records. ’Cause a lot of the records, like, week-long DJ-type things, he just shows up at the end. But this one, he had to be there. That was the longest thing he’s actually sat for, and I thought that was cool. [Laughs.]
AVC: Were there any subjective quality rules? Like, you couldn’t just be saying the same sentence over and over for nine hours.
CA: I mean, I’m sure there were rules like that. I’m sure that if I was to have done that then the guy would’ve been looking at me, you know what I’m saying? But that wasn’t what I did. I had the topics, and I had like these random thoughts in my head, and I had people text messaging me things, like, “Rap about my cousin Jenny!”
AVC: Like, people that you know would ask you to rap about their cousin Jenny, or people that you don’t know asking you to rap about their cousin Jenny?
CA: No, no—I’m having people I don’t know from the Twitter universe sending in all these topics, but then I would have people [I know] straight hitting me up, saying, like, “Oh, rap about people that we know”—like, friends, and family, and associates, and things like that.
But it felt like everyone was involved, so it was fun to be a part of, you know what I’m saying? I would get texts from people that were like, “Yo, keep going, you got this shit. Don’t quit,” and these are people that I don’t even expect to be watching. So it was like, “I gotta keep going!” [Laughs.] Plus, when it’s a nine-hour thing to break the world record, you’d be stupid to quit at hour seven.
AVC: A lot of marathon runners talk about “hitting the wall,” reaching a point where to keep going seems unbearable. Did you have a hit-the-wall moment?
CA: Yeah, I had a hit-the-wall moment, like, psychologically. The first hour, I was like, “Damn, that went by kind of quick,” so from then on, I started feeling really, really good feelings. Then when I got to the fourth hour, I started tanking a little bit, ’cause I was like, “Damn, I got five left, that’s a whole half a day, pretty much, to go.” But somehow, like, I maneuvered by just playing it chill through those hours. I was really, really relaxed. People thought I was gonna drop it during that time, but I really was chilling, ’cause I can just rhyme shit.
AVC: Speaking of rhyming shit—the rule that you couldn’t stop for more than three seconds was still in effect when you were using the bathroom, and a lot of the time you were just rapping your stream of consciousness, commenting on the things around you. Do you remember what you were saying in the bathroom?
CA: [Laughs.] No, shoot, I was probably just talking about the fact that I’m taking a piss. Right now. It really was just, like, one continuous stream of consciousness. And, like, just unending; there was no period. [Laughs.] It was running. Forever.
AVC: So you met Rebecca Black after the show—that must’ve been very strange, especially after you’d just finished this mind-destroying endurance test.
CA: [Laughs.] Yeah, MTV’s like, “Yo, Chiddy, meet Rebecca Black!” and I was like, “All right, cool.” I’m not gonna be, like, “No.” I’m not one of those people. A lot of people hate her, you know what I’m saying? I found out about her late, so I’m not as prone to hating her—I didn’t even know who Rebecca Black was until very recently. Like, the “Friday” song, somehow it just slipped through my cracks. And then I saw online it had, like, billions of hits. But a lot of people hate her. [Laughs.]
AVC: It’s gotta be rough to be Rebecca Black.
CA: [Laughs.] A lot of people hate her, but me, I’m indifferent to it. Like, she seems like she was a… cool… individual… but, you know, take your picture, keep moving.
AVC: So you must have known that the last 10 minutes were gonna be televised, that that was gonna be the YouTube clip that people would watch. Did you plan what you would say in the home stretch?
CA: I was just streaming, you know what I’m saying? I was just streaming away. I didn’t really plan what I was going to say, but I think I ended with saying something about Breakfast, which is gonna be our debut album. I said something like, “Eat your breakfast”—something, something, something, breakfast. I don’t know how I ended it, but pretty much that was how I stopped.
Truthfully, I could’ve kept on going, you know what I mean? But I was scheduled to perform, so it was in the itinerary, it was in the schedule. But a part of me wanted to make that shit 10 hours.
AVC: Just an unbreakable record.
CA: If anybody wants to go out and try to beat it and succeeds, I’d tip my hat off to them—I would not be trying to break it again, you know what I mean? I’m not trying to hold on to this shit. MTV approached me, you know, and my manager approached me, like, “Yo, they want you to break the Guinness Book Of World Records for longest freestyle,” and I was like, “All right, shit—I don’t know if I can rap that long, but I’m a damn good freestyler off the top, so let me see how far this goes.” Believe you me, it was not me saying, “Yo, I wanna break this Guinness Book Of World Records—I wanna show the world how long I can freestyle!” [Laughs.] It was not like that, at all. You feel me? I didn’t come up with that idea. But that’s an accomplishment, that’s a moment; nobody can take that away from me even if somebody did break the record.
AVC: So right after you did this, you had to go out and perform “Manners,” off your upcoming debut, and you seemed okay doing that—were there any physical side effects the next day?
CA: [Laughs.] Yeah, oh my God, oh my God. The next day, I swear to God, my lips were, like, chapped. Like, during the freestyle, I felt like my mouth was burning after about nine hours. [Laughs.] That shit was burning. Seriously. ’Cause you’re just talking for so long. Seriously, you would just have to do it, then you’d see. You feel strange and shit.
But you know, I’m recovered. It’s nothing. I’ll take that for the plaque, you feel me? [Laughs.] For two of ’em. How many people get to say that, you know what I mean?