Chase & Status RTRN II JUNGLE Album Walkthrough
Never before has album been so eagerly anticipated in the jungle and drum and bass scene than Chase & Status RTRN II JUNGLE. I was fortunate to be let into their secret of going ‘back to jungle’ 18 months ago so for me this has been a hell of an exciting wait…Which is now over!
They have already released a handful of tracks from the album and each one has proved to be an absolute banger. The rest of the tracks on this album are just as good…if not better!
We can’t thank Chase & Status and MC Rage enough for taking the time out of their hectic schedules to take us through each track on this masterpiece so that we at DT and you, our beloved readers, get a glimpse into what went into the album and how they made each track.
This was one of the tracks from Big Yard in Kingston – an iconic studio complex that was to become the centre for creating the album.
We were lucky enough to have our friend Seani B help us set up sessions and with local artists & young talents which was a huge help. We ended up sitting in Big Yard for pretty much 24 hours a day.
Suku (part of the Ward 21 crew) was someone we knew from working with him on a previous project, and he’s such a cool guy to work with. It’s a great intro track we think – the vocal is pretty dark and atmospheric, very low, monosyllabic tone which we just love.
We came across an acapella of an old General Levy track called ‘Heat’ and were pretty surprised no one had made a d&b version of it. We tried a few different things and it came together really quickly. We then sent it to General Levy and he loved it and the timing felt great releasing it around our stage at Notting Hill Carnival…it just gelled…a life long dream really being able to play our own stage, and with General Levy performing live on the day.
This is one of our favourites…It was important for us to make an instrumental record with no vocals as most of the album does feature a variety of artists. It was also really great to make a record that felt understated but still have lots of energy and it’s one of those tracks that seems to get better the longer it’s played for, which was typical of a lot of records from the 90s, less so now.
Kabaka Pyramid is a super cool artist, someone who we met also at the Big Yard sessions. His album was being released the week we were in Jamaica, which was exec produced by Damian Marley. We went to the launch party in Kingston and it was just so exciting to see him perform. He came down to the studio and asked us for a d&b beat, not a dancehall tempo. He tried to write something but it just didn’t really work so we flipped it to a hip hop beat and then into something else altogether. This was definitely one of those tracks with multiple versions before we finished it. Just when we thought we’d got there, we had a massive clearance issue with the sample which forced us to rewrite all the music. This actually ended up being a blessing in disguise as we think it made the track better. Luckily Kabaka was very open-minded to the final version and everyone was pretty happy with it.
We felt we were missing a big club record off the LP and this was quite a late edition. It started off as a completely different beat, on a reggae track and while we were in the studio Irah was kind of singing some little ad-libs in between takes which we loved and he really wasn’t sure about…but we persuaded him to keep trying it and after switching up the beat – ended up with this as the main hook. Lots of people think we have several different vocalists on this track when in fact it’s all Irah.
That same night we were playing as surprise guests at Andy C’s residency at XOYO…and had literally finished the final version 2 hours before. We played it, and the place erupted, so much so we rewound it twice. Andy was watching it unfold and seeing his reaction was such a key sign that we’d written something good. In a way, there is literally no better feeling than seeing that kind of reaction with our childhood hero standing next to us giving us the nod of approval…we knew then and there that this was going to be a big moment for us on the album, and we loved that we were featuring an upcoming British act on the album too.
COOL N CRISP
This track came about at the beginning of this journey when we hosted several streams on our FaceBook pages called the Foundation Shows. We wanted to set the scene for what this album was going to be about by DJing 90 mins from ’The Bunker’ – a homage to every 15 year old’s bedroom in the 90s which was covered in Rave Posters and a DJ set up in the corner. One of these shows, we invited Reggae Roast – with their MC Natty Campell. We loved his vibe and we invited him down to the studio a few days later and he laid down a really charismatic vocal which ended up on this track.
WEED & RUM
Masicka is a real huge new talent in JA – so this was a properly high profile act that we were super excited to work with. He’d also never done anything on D&B or with an act like us before. It was quite an old school transactional…we agreed on a fee, we paid the money and only then would he come to the studio. It sounds a bit intense but actually it made it a really straight forward collaboration – he came down for 6 hours and delivered a killer vocal and that was that. Initially, like most of the other tracks, this was a dancehall version, but we struggled to play it out in our sets as it was so different sounding. We loved this version so much we were very reticent to change it; yet..this project always had a clear vision, of a jungle record, so we switched it up back to d&b and felt much happier with where it ended up.
Our MC – Rage introduced us to this song, a Jamaican, who knows more about reggae music than anyone we know. He sent us an incredible record by Cocoa Tea ‘Babylon Fallin,’ which we managed to sample and turn into a really nice jungle track. We were a little nervous trying to clear this sample as Cocoa Tea is just a revered legend in JA but luckily he and his team liked what we’d done so we managed to get approval to use it on the record.
One of the first records we wrote – we wanted to create something that was like the music that had inspired us so much – old Metalheadz; Photoc style – really ethereal, deep d&b. We actually had an old Cutty Ranks dubplate from when we were working on the Rebel Sound project a few years ago that we ended up trying on this and it really seemed to work. We started playing it out and a few of our peers really supported it from the off, which was really nice. It gave us confidence that we could make a jungle influenced album that still has a place in today’s current d&b scene.
This was a hilarious session with Burro Banton in JA. An old school veteran of the scene – and talk about iconic, unique voices… he has the most gravely, low voice and it was a dream to be able to work with someone like this. He wasn’t too bothered about us or probably had never heard of us, but within 5 minutes of the session starting, he wrote the hook immediately and was one of the easiest tracks on the album to write. We kept the music really simple and let his vocal shine – and it immediately stood out as a track that had to make the cut for the final album.
We wrote this the first day we arrived in Jamaica. It was around 1am, and we were all pretty jet-lagged, and Seani B persuaded us to go to another studio called Truck Back Studios which New Kidz ran. It was quite a surreal experience, but New Kidz were super professional and welcoming and got the session going quite quickly. Later on in the week, they invited us to one of the most famous street parties which they run weekly Kingston. We have never ever heard sound like it – literally a 30ft wall of speakers in the middle of a residential street which in itself was one of the most special experiences of the whole week
A mental, fun ending to the album – it evolved from several different ideas…we had a vocal from David Rodigan that we’d never used and we wanted to make a high energy, very jungle-y record with it. We wanted to write something to play out and this was absolutely where the track ended up.
It also has a really poignant ending with David’s vocal saying ‘Don’t go away, it’s not over yet’ and sums up where we’re finishing up this project with hopefully a lot more to come.
Chase & Status RTRN II JUNGLE is out now and available to buy here