We last interviewed South London’s talented Rap Duo Krept and Konan when we were at the start of our journey as a Magazine in 2013 and the rappers were nominated for their first MOBO Award. Fast forward 4 years and Krept and Konan are multiple award-winning artists signed to Virgin EMI Records that have travelled the world, delivered an album, performed on stage with Drake and have shared the hottest UK rap track of 2016 “Robbery Remix” with Tottenham rapper Abracadabra.
What’s changed about the rappers? Konan answers our first question with an enthusiastic:
“Just new experiences, we’ve kinda been about now man, since the mixtape ‘Young Kings’, we’ve been to what 25 countries, we’ve picked up a lot of culture and experienced a lot of things and when you approach the music now your approach is a bit more different cos your approach is more open to what everyone is listening to and what kinda works and what you’re kinda into now as an artist” we talk with them about growing as artists, something that critics and opinionated UK rap fans misconstrue as “selling out”. But as Konan rightly quotes ” Yeah man, you always want to grow as artists you know I feel it when Jay Z says “Niggas want my old shit, buy my old Album, I kinda get why he said that cos you understand, you grow as an artist and you always want to be better man, like you don’t wanna just be the same like when you go around and you meet other artists you see how sick other people are, you wanna be as sick, like you wanna push the boundaries in yourself.
We ask what other artists that they see breaking boundaries they respect and are inspired by and the 6 god Drake’s name comes up. We can see in both of their faces and body language when they’re talking about the worlds current favourite hip-hop artist, that there is a lot of respect on his name. Konan touches on what it is they respect about him well when he says “Yeah Drake he killed it, he’s an inspiration to man like in terms of how long he’s been in the game and the way he keeps churning out hit after hit after hit and being as consistent as he is”, We then talk about consistency in the Rap game and how it is a very important aspect of being an artist, with a nod to a growing trend of artists that have that one big song/album and then disappear.
Krept and Konan dropped their mixtape ‘Young Kings’ in 2013 and had an absolute banger of a tune with “Don’t Waste My Time” with the remix featuring NYC Rapper French Montana, however instead of resting on the success of that record or becoming like those one-hit wonders we just mentioned they continued to give us big tunes including “Freak of the Week” featuring Jeremih and then going on to drop their album ‘The Long Way Home’. When hearing them talk with knowledge and insight into the dynamics behind successful artists, we are instantly reminded that these two guys have been in the game for over 9 years, which is why when we ask them about their personal experience with Drake and the moment the Canadian superstar brought them out to perform at two dates on his recent UK Tour, we’re surprised at how humble their responses are:
“When you’re going and you’re seeing that Drakes got like a massive ball blowing up in the ting and these mad lights going around the arena and you just think ‘Blood this is mad” and then obviously he’s sold out like 5 dates in the O2 and he’s bringing man out, our first thing was like “Does this crowd that Drake appeals to know mans shit?”
This answer was definitely an insight into how they still remain relevant and fully involved in the UK Music scene, as humility seems to be getting too easily replaced with ego in the scene with the entry of so many new artists with a different background story to those that came before them.
Konan gives us a real insight into why as an artist you will still question yourself at shows when he shares details of their early days of touring “We’ve done a lot of shows bro and not every single shows been sick, like ever in our run since 2011 of doing shows it’s not always been easy, we’ve had tough crowds, like staring you out like “Who the fucks this?”, Krept talks about one of the hardest shows they’ve performed at being the Wolverhampton show of Tinie Tempah’s 2014 Tour. Konan tells us what he learned from those hard experiences “Like know yourself a bit, don’t get ahead of yourself” some real solid advice for upcoming artists today that are getting millions of views in their first year as an artist and are selling out shows, you still need to remain grounded to achieve longevity.
We talk about ‘7 Days and 7 Nights’ and why they are two separate projects, we get the feeling that both artists felt it was important to acknowledge their abilities to do both the greazy 16 bar rap style that we’ve seen on Konan’s ‘Last Night in LA’ freestyle and Krepts ‘Last Night in Lagos’ Freestyle and the melodies that they have been doing for a minute subtly on their previous projects.
“So you’ll hear like Young Kings I’m singing kinda on Inspiration, on My Story and you’ll hear me on “Say My Name I’m kinda doing the undertone with the melody and then on The Long Way Home you’ll hear man more touch on it more and the sounds are a bit different and you’ll know we’re trying to ease it all in you’ll hear it easing in, easing in you understand and it’s just how do you get from here to here without losing people on the way do you get me?
Well if ‘Wo Wo Wo’ and ‘For Me’ are anything to go by, it looks like they found their balance with the two separate mixtapes catering for fans of both styles.
“And its like us really competing with ourselves like we’ve made this we’ve made that lets make them beef each other that’s what its always like, we’re always forever trying to raise the bar for ourselves and see what fans are strongest and do you know what I mean? Just cover ground man”
When we talk about the creative process for making music its nice to learn some friendly competition still exists between the two friends. Konan tells us “ It’s in sync man, and do you know what it is like we don’t really even really write together so its like he’ll handle his verse and be like “yeah I done my verse” And you hear it back like “ hold on he’s going inn! he’s got me against the ropes and like “hold on everyone’s tryna go in yeah?”, let me edit this bit I don’t like and change that man, I can go harder, you get me so yeah its always like friendly competition.
We talk about the Drake intro to “Wo, Wo, Wo” and learn that Krept added the sound clip to the tune himself after finding it online and through their already strong relationship and mutual respect, getting it signed off was a matter of a phone call and a discussion between management, another thing that shows just how much being humble, consistent and hardworking opens up the doors for more opportunities in an industry that is a lot to do with who you know. When we talk to Krept and Konan about the heavy Carribean influence on new track ‘For Me’ both artists feel strongly that the track represents their heritage and culture as Carribean men and the actual track wasn’t given as much thought as to what the reaction would be but rather who they would target as an audience.
“That’s how it came, we was in the front room I think and one of my producers, he just come from America so he was doing the rounds round there and I was like where’s your new beats bruv? you got new beats and he was like yeah I got beats, come on bruv! and I was like raa play the beats then and he’s played this lickle Carribbeany vibes so I’m like raa send me that. I had my mic set up next to me so I just freestyled the whole song basically like the whole melody of it I just done it in a take and I said yeah this is the song and then that’s how it really came about and then Krepts hearing it like “raa this is cold” and he hit it with that vibe and then its like cool I’m gonna execute it and he had two vibes for it he had a more patois sounding voice but it was mad more patois you get me? So it was like yeah mans gonna do this and then when we done it we didn’t even think people wasn’t going to rock with it or are they gonna, we just thought like we fucked it with it ourselves so we just wanted to bring the visuals to life to match it and its like the gyaal dem are gonna rock with this so, that’s all we was thinking about was the gyaaldem, its like “yeah, two two gyaal are gonna whine to this one here! dis is the aim, like this is for girls of Carribean descent even African descent this is for the gyaaldem, you know about this type of thing. I all sent it to my sister that lives in yard, she was like “yo they’re gonna rock with this in Jamaica”
We go on to talk about how important it is for UK Rap fans to acknowledge Jamaican cultures influence at a time where fellow artists J Hus Kojo Funds and more are pushing the Afro swing, Afrobeats vibes into the scene as well as Krept reminding us that they both grew up on Dancehall music from artists like Vybez Kartel and Beenie Man, so they are making music they like and that it is for them as much as it is for others, something that we can only respect.
As well as discussing the advances in their musical style, the new project and changes made to them as artists we wanted to discuss the rappers sponsorship with PUMA and what a deal like that does for an upcoming artist.
Krept tells us that after discussing an idea he had for one of the ‘Young Kings’ Video’s, SBTV Founder Jamal Edwards put them in contact with someone from PUMA to source adults and kids trainers.
“So when I got the number off Jamal I just used to hit up a guy called Charlie from PUMA, big up Charlie and we just used to chat in general, he used to ask us what we were doing, blah blah blah, we just used to keep in contact and when we done the video I said “Yo”, showed him the idea and said can we get the trainers in these sizes and they patterned it all up, got us trainers etc and it just built from there.
We feel like they was there before everything kicked off and before we was big, so yeah man, we’ve always had that and they just came to us and said this is what we want to do and we were messing with them from before anyway and the relationship grew and they was like they wanted to make things”
Konan adds: “Official”
Krept continues: “they wanted to do a campaign with us to make it official and we just never looked back bruv and we’ve just been team PUMA ever since”.
When we asked what a deal like that does for the artist, as well as give them financial gains, Konan broke it down like this:
“I feel like it helps, like they are a big established brand and they are associating themselves with you, it shines the light on your brand and it gives the acceptance that you are actually a brand now like an official certified unit and team that people should be looking to do deals with as well, cos brands are like “well why is PUMA messing with them? They must be official and doing their thing”. I feel like it shines a light and gives you the co-sign for clothing brands to want to look into you as well in a different aspect, Fashion, streetwear you know what I mean? Yeah man I feel like it just helps man, all of that just helps I feel like it’s a good co-sign to have on a major brand level”.
There is a lot of debate over whether or not big corporate brands that are involved in our culture are really helping our culture or just making money off of it without any care for the artist, so it was really good to get a real insight into that topic from artists that have their faces on advertising campaigns, wear the brand and ride on tour buses courtesy of a brand. We were politely reminded that we had to make this our last question. We chose to talk about the remarkable success and change of fortune that a remix of Abracadabra’s Robbery track had for a teenager from Tottenham.
“It was sick man! Like when we was shooting ‘The Intent’ like a year before that he was in the background, just out there with the mandem with his G’s dem and obviously a year down the line we heard the song, came together put it together and to see it go off like that, change his whole world around him was crazy to us, like it feels good man that we can help and get someone else off the road, cos we know what the roads is like, I just feel like its good man its very like humbling”
Before we left the Universal Studios we had to cover one last topic however so we threw it out there!
We spoke about Drake a bit in the interview and a lot of people have mixed feelings on Drakes involvement in the scene, does he genuinely love UK Music or is he taking advantage of our scene?
As you can imagine this reignited the vibe in the room and both rappers had a lot to say, Krept questioned straight away the very concept of Drake being able to take advantage of the scene when he’s a platinum-selling artist with a worldwide platform, which was a very valid point and Konan went on to explain why the Canadian was benefitting the UK scene rather than doing anything sinister.
“Like you see us we’re artists, like we know how the grind is and like to get on them platforms, to get to the world its very hard and in the UK we’ve only just kinda reached the world now, we’re not fully in there yet, do you know what I mean? Only now in big 2017 after how many groups,rappers, acts and Grime, Garage and Jungle and how long we’ve been fighting, how many videos and only now were only touching the world, as a lot of people at once, usually its only one man but now its like a group of us and I feel like Drake is a part of it being like that, like when they go back 10 years, 20 years down the line and they look at how the scene was, he’s gonna be mentioned like when Skepta, Giggs, when these man did this and that do you know what I mean, he’s gonna be a part of it so I feel that it’s only helping us man, I feel like in London we’re very judgemental and very selfish like London nah and UK no-one can have us no! but you’ve just gotta give him props where its due man.”
Krept is quick to articulate his earlier question into a statement that defends Drake’s actions and should get critics asking themselves questions:
How can he be using us? He’s only benefitting us, he’s putting the mandem on his mixtapes that are selling millions of units he’s putting us on a world wide stage, bringing us out at OVO Fest and he genuinely when mans around him he genuinely plays UK Music.
Speaking to the UK rap duo was a big blessing for us ahead of what we are sure is going to be another big moment for UK rap, the release of 7 Days & Nights, the project dropped at Midnight today and the rappers dropped another dope visual from & Days “Ask Flipz” Featuring Stormzy watch the video below and be sure to grab the projects which are available on all major outlets now.