As highlighted on Chase and Status’s social media pages, the drum’n’bass duo currently has three songs on the UK Top 30. These include their collaboration with singer Becky Hill, Disconnect, and Baddadan, a track from their album 2Ruff Vol 1 featuring UK rapper Flowdan. Both songs have been in the Top 10 for several months, with Baddadan possibly receiving a boost from boxer Tyson Fury using it as his walk-on music. Another track from 2Ruff Vol 1, Liquor and Cigarettes, featuring rapper ArrDee, has recently joined the ranks. In this song, ArrDee adds some clever lines to the intense musical production by Chase and Status and fellow drum’n’bass producer Hedex. Confidently, he declares, “I think I made it very clear,” after describing a heated argument with a girl that mostly consists of shouting “yeah?” and “yeah” back and forth.
Chase and Status may feel compelled to boast due to their long-standing success in the music industry. Their second album, No More Idols, was released 12 years ago and is considered a significant milestone in their career. Despite some critics claiming that the duo’s prime period has passed, their production services are still in high demand, as evidenced by their frequent collaborations with artists like Rihanna. While their recent albums have showcased their maturity and experience, such as Rtrn II Jungle in 2019 which pays homage to the early days of their genre with breakbeats and features from Jamaican dancehall artists. Their latest album, What Came Before, released last year, also draws inspiration from the past with its nod to old-school hardcore sounds.
Titled as a mixtape instead of an album, 2Ruff Vol 1 appears to have less of a reflective tone. The lineup of collaborators is heavily composed of up-and-coming drum’n’bass producers, many of whom were still in primary school when Chase and Status made their breakthrough. This includes artists such as Hedex, Mazey, and Manchester’s own Bou. The focus is on simplifying things down to the basics, with no musical diversions into garage, dubstep, or mid-tempo breaks like in Chase and Status’s previous work. Additionally, there are no tracks that showcase their ability to incorporate a catchy pop chorus into their sound. The guest vocalists are predominantly MCs rather than singers, with only “Say the Word” featuring regular collaborator Clementine Douglas being a clearly song-based track. In other instances, the rappers may feel like they are struggling for space among the busy production, serving as a reminder that the current rise of UK rap has its roots in raves where MCs were simply part of the entertainment rather than the main focus.
Although the firmness of this approach can be appreciated, it has a mixed impact on the album as a whole. Each of the 10 tracks on their own would be considered loud and enjoyable, but when played in sequence, it can become overwhelming. The intensity is constantly at a maximum level, with occasional spikes that reach even higher levels: the basslines, the loud synths, the excessive metal guitar accompanied by Stefflon Don’s performance on Selecta, and the high-pitched sounds reminiscent of the Bomb Squad’s production on past Public Enemy songs. The rhythms are fast and heavy, with techstep influences, punctuated by drum rolls that build up to a drop, or on Massive and Crew, a burst of beats that typically incite a mass chant of “Eng-LAND”. When a breakbeat is briefly incorporated in Baddadan, it feels like a breath of fresh air.
Chase and Status have never been known for their subtlety. It seems unnecessary to suggest that listening to 2Ruff Vol 1 in one sitting is like being stuck on a night bus next to a loud man wrapped in a Jägermeister flag. This may be because the album is not meant to be listened to in one sitting. It appears to be a collection of tracks that are perfect for picking and choosing for playlists or DJ sets at peak time, which could explain why it is referred to as both an “album” and a “mixtape”. The partnership with Tyson Fury and the endorsements from Jason Statham, star of Fast and Furious, suggest that this music is intended for the type of person who might be wrapped in a Jägermeister flag. This is one of the reasons why Chase and Status have been successful for so long – they understand their target audience. This target audience is likely to enjoy 2Ruff Vol 1 even more loudly: everyone else may be relieved when they reach their destination and can escape, seeking some variety and balance, perhaps realizing that some things are best experienced in small doses.
Alexis spent time listening to music this week.
Fabiana Palladino and Jai Paul’s collaboration, “I Care”
Jai Paul’s production style is characterized by its simplicity, utilizing only a synthesizer, drum machine, and heavy use of echo. This meshes perfectly with the haunting vocals of an old R&B slow jam, resulting in a powerful and effective track.