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Named in the manner of a high-end law firm, Chase and Status actually make full-tilt, big-room EDM. This is the kind of dance music in which basslines slap and the peaks and drops resemble a rollercoaster. Drum-and-bass and dubstep are the main styles, scored as though for an all-action video game soundtrack.
The terms of the contract were set out on the UK duo’s debut album More Than a Lot in 2008. It featured a comical track with a Smashie and Nicey-style voiceover about assembling a formulaic drum-and-bass track with compressed snare drums and big crescendos. “So there you have it!” this incongruous figure announces smarmily. “The complete guide on how to write a massive club banger.”
To dance purists, the joke wasn’t funny. They cavilled that Chase, aka Saul Milton, and Status, aka Will Kennard, were too adept at writing massive club bangers. As the hit records and A-list remixes for the likes of Rihanna mounted in the 2010s, so did criticisms that they were sell-outs. The complaints weren’t without merit: witness the pair’s aptly titled link-up with pop-soul plodder Tom Grennan on the single “All Goes Wrong”.
That misbegotten song came out in 2016. Since then, Chase and Status have rebooted themselves. The lure of pop crossovers has been resisted in favour of a return to floor-quaking drum-and-bass and dubstep. This refocusing of energies has paid off. Their new mixtape 2 Ruff Vol 1 arrives off the back of a big hit, “Baddadan”, which was released in August and is still in the UK top 10.
“Baddadan” is a collaboration with Manchester DJ Bou, a leading name in the new generation of UK drum-and-bass producers. Fast beats criss-cross the track and heavy basslines trample around like Godzilla. Deep-voiced dancehall singer Irah leads a team of vocalists with charismatic badman verses.
Other guests on the mixtape also turn in strong performances. Rapper and singer Stefflon Don holds her own amid maximalist production in “Selecta”. Rapper ArrDee has an entertainingly lairy turn on “Liquor and Cigarettes”, a stomping rave track with co-production by Hedex, another younger figure from the UK drum-and-bass scene.
‘2 Ruff Vol 1’ is released by EMI