Interview: Krept and Konan
South London hip-hop/grime artists Krept & Konan have slowly but surely climbed their way to the top of the UK urban scene, picking up two MOBOs, a Best International Act award from the US and a Guinness World Record along the way. The duo started turning heads in 2011, when a cover of Jay Z and Kanye’s track ‘Otis’ was uploaded to their YouTube account and received over five million views in a short space of time. The popularity of the track even caused the US rapper’s legal team to get involved and demand the video be taken down from the account. Less than two years later their third mixtape, Young Kingz, featured collabs with the likes of Tinie Tempah, Chip, Giggs and George the Poet and would see hit single ‘Don’t Waste My Time’ become one of the hottest tracks in the UK grime scene. Their hard graft paid off in 2014, as following the success of Young Kingz record label giants Virgin EMI stated their interest and signed them up, later announcing an album release due for summer 2015. The Long Way Home dropped in July, peaking at number 2 in the UK Albums Chart and including popular summer banger ‘Freak of the Week’ featuring US R&B star Jeremih. Now one of the most influential forces on the scene, Krept & Konan will be touring with their new album and arrive at Plug on November 18.
Georgina Hall got in touch to see how things were looking following the album release.
So, what have the past two years been like for you since signing with Virgin?
Hectic! We were recording The Long Way Home as well as doing shows to promote our previous EP at the same time. This on top of constant promotion, interviews and press, so yeah, I think hectic sums it up well.
There was plenty of excitement preceding the release of The Long Way Home, so how did it feel seeing it come in at number 2?
Sick! We were only aiming to do better than our last release. There was definitely pressure on us from our signing and it was phenomenal to see a UK hip-hop album do so well. We genuinely think we would have got number one if Ed Sheeran hadn’t been doing stadium shows.
And you worked with Ed Sheeran on the album…
Yeah, it was sick to work with so many established artists on our album. The collaborations got knocked out really quickly because we simply had to reach out to our contacts. We messaged Ed Sheeran and he was like ‘let’s go’ and we hooked up as soon as he was back in the UK.
Roses [a track which sees the artists open up on a friend’s struggle with leukaemia and a family member sent to war] is a particularly poignant track on the album. How tough is it to perform?
It’s actually a great feeling to have this platform to be able to give a voice to the silent. Our debut album gave us the opportunity to be able to utilise our popularity to raise awareness for issues we care about.
Despite openly flying the flag for the urban scene in the UK, your summer anthem ‘Freak of the Week’ could quite easily have come from one of the big US hip hop stars. How much influence do you take from your American counterparts?
Well, rap culture has its roots in America and we really look up to great American rappers. But we take inspiration from everything around us and our own culture too, so we try to add our own slant to the music and want to be able to compete with the US brand of hip hop.
Five years ago did you ever imagine that you’d be playing the Royal Albert Hall?
Nah, it’s crazy! We thought last year that one day it would be sick to perform at The Proms and the next year we were there and so happy to be a part of it. To hear our music accompanied by an orchestra was mad as we’d never heard it like that before.
So you’re heading up north on your tour in November. Are you looking forward to arriving in Sheffield?
We’ve performed here twice before and Sheffield always makes for a mad crowd. We love touring with our music, and we can only hope that it’s as good as or even better than the last time around. Fingers crossed!
What are your plans beyond your tour?
Right now, it’s just to have a good time touring, to give it as much energy as we have and keep it crazy. Touring is a way for our fans to hear our music raw like it was recorded in the studio, so it’s big for us to give our fanbase to hear the album the way we first heard it.
Catch Krept & Konan at Plug on November 18. Head to www.the-plug.com for tickets and more.