Words: James Keith

When Chase & Status (and MC Rage) entered the scene in 2003, it was an interesting time for the UK club scene. Drum & bass, garage, grime and dubstep were all jostling for attention. It was that exact intersection that Chase & Status landed on. Their first album, More Than A Lot, drew on all of those sounds and more and, thanks to anthems like “Saxon” and “Eastern Jam”, immediately made them stars across the board.

Over time, they’ve shifted through a lot of sounds and though they’ve flirted with (and achieved plenty of) chart success, they’ve always kept one foot in the underground, but their latest project RTRN II JUNGLE is probably purest example of their credentials. The big-room synths, melodies and dubstep wobbles are gone; instead, this is pure jungle and dancehall crud.

This album didn’t happen in a vacuum, though. 2017’s Tribe, while still complete with pop moments, saw them link up with a roll-call of the year’s underground kings and queens. Novelist joined them on the pirate radio-ready “NRG”; Smoke Boys brought their grime-rap amalgam for an ominous posse cut that sounded like it was recorded in a deep in someone’s basement; and Kano sounded like he was about to smash up the studio at any moment on “Dubplate Original”. Even Craig David’s appearance on “Reload” was a heavier, ruder garage sound.

Even at its most underground, however, Tribe still had plenty of groove and soul — Emeli Sande’s turn on “Love Me More” made for a certified pop anthem and Seinabo Sey brought pure club euphoria to album closer “Know Your Name” — but RTRN II JUNGLE is far grittier, a return to the harsh junglism of early 12”s like “Duppy Man” with Capleton and “Come Back” with Top Cat.

Between the two albums, they also released a four-part series of singles that saw them link with Frisco, Giggs, Novelist and Bonkaz, tapping right into the heart of the UK underground. It was inevitable that they’d eventually make the trip to Jamaica. But rather than simply sample the greats, they travelled right to the source in Big Studio, Jamaica, to team up with ragga, dancehall and bashment legends like Cutty Ranks, General Levy, Burru Banton, Ward 21’s Suku and more — all brought together by the guiding hand of 1Xtra’s Seani B.

Now, as they celebrate 15 years in the game, Chase & Status have come full circle, back to the dancehall and jungle records that raised them. Building on that theme, they recently dug deep into their record bags for a RTRN II JUNGLE-themed fabric mix (due October 30), putting classics from Remarc and DJ Rap alongside some of the gems from this playlist. It’s a poetic moment in their career, but far from feeling like a conclusion: Chase & Status and MC Rage seem more creatively invigorated than they’ve ever been. Who knows what the next 15 years will hold?

Here are 20 reasons to love Chase & Status.

Posted on October 01, 2020