According to recent posts on Chase and Status’s social media accounts, the drum and bass duo currently have three songs ranked in the Top 30 in the UK. Their collaboration with singer Becky Hill, “Disconnect,” and “Baddadan,” a track featuring UK rapper Flowdan from their album 2Ruff Vol 1, have both remained in the Top 10 for several months. It is possible that the latter has received extra attention due to boxer Tyson Fury using it as his entrance music. Another track from 2Ruff Vol 1, “Liquor and Cigarettes,” featuring rapper ArrDee, has also joined the ranks of their successful tracks. In this song, ArrDee adds a touch of humor to the intense musical composition created by Chase and Status and fellow drum and bass producer Hedex. In the lyrics, he confidently declares, “I think I made it very clear,” after describing a heated argument with a girl that mainly consists of both parties repeatedly saying “yeah?” and “yeah.”
Chase and Status are feeling compelled to boast, as it has been 12 years since their popular breakthrough with their second album No More Idols – an extensive amount of time in the music industry. Some may argue that the British duo’s prime ended a while back, when they were being praised as a modern-day Prodigy and were frequently sought after by Rihanna for their production skills. However, how many singles does this critic currently have on the charts? Despite this, their recent albums have portrayed them as seasoned veterans. Their 2019 album Rtrn II Jungle stayed true to its title, featuring prominent breakbeats and collaborations with Jamaican dancehall icons, while also paying homage to early 90s drum’n’bass hits such as M-Beat’s Incredible and Engineers Without Fears’ Spiritual Aura – a tribute to the genre that launched their career. Similarly, their 2020 album What Came Before also incorporates elements of old-school hardcore, showcasing their appreciation for the past.
Marketed as a mixtape instead of an album, 2Ruff Vol 1 appears less interested in looking back. The list of contributors is filled with up-and-coming drum and bass producers, many of whom were still in primary school when Chase and Status first rose to fame: not only Hedex, but also Mazey and Bou from Manchester. The focus is on simplifying things. The mixtape does not feature Chase and Status’s past experiments with garage, dubstep, or mid-tempo breaks, nor does it showcase their ability to incorporate catchy pop choruses into their sound. The guest vocalists are primarily MCs rather than singers. Only “Say the Word,” featuring regular collaborator Clementine Douglas, stands out as a traditional song. In other tracks, the rappers often seem like an afterthought rather than the main attraction, struggling to compete with the busy production style. This serves as a reminder that the current surge in UK rap has its origins in raves, where MCs were just one element of the entertainment rather than the main focus.
The determination of this approach may be appreciated, but it proves to have both positive and negative effects throughout the album. While each of the 10 tracks individually exude a sense of lively enjoyment, when played in sequence, the overall impact can be overwhelming. The volume is consistently set at its maximum, except for brief moments where it is astonishingly raised even higher: the basslines, the loud synthesizers, the exaggerated metal guitar that accompanies Stefflon Don’s performance on Selecta, and the high-pitched noises reminiscent of the Bomb Squad’s production on old Public Enemy songs. The rhythms are fast-paced and contain elements of techstep, with frequent crashing sounds and drum rolls that build anticipation for the drop. On Massive and Crew, there is a brief burst of a beat that is typically followed by a rousing chant of “Eng-LAND”. The appearance of a breakbeat on Baddadan is a welcome respite from the intense energy.
To be fair, being subtle has never been one of Chase and Status’s strengths. It seems pointless to suggest that listening to 2Ruff Vol 1 all at once is like being stuck on a night bus next to a guy wrapped in a Jägermeister flag who won’t stop yelling. This is probably because the album is not meant to be listened to all at once. It’s more likely intended to be picked apart and added to playlists or played by DJs during peak hours, which could explain why it’s classified as a “mixtape” rather than an “album”. Additionally, it’s likely aimed at the type of person represented by the guy with the Jägermeister flag, and this is further reinforced by the collaboration with Tyson Fury and endorsements from Jason Statham. Chase and Status’s longevity can be attributed to their understanding of their target audience. This audience will probably shout even louder upon receiving 2Ruff Vol 1, while everyone else may be grateful when they reach their destination and can move away from the noise. It serves as a reminder that some things are best enjoyed in moderation.
Alexis spent the week listening to music.
The artists Fabiana Palladino and Jai Paul collaborated on the song “I Care”.
Jai Paul’s production style is characterized by minimalism, with the use of only a synthesizer, a drum machine, and ample echo. This composition is complemented by a haunting melody reminiscent of classic slow R&B jams, making for a powerful and simplistic sound.