[Written for CLASH in May 2015. See the published version here.]
Wow, I’m overdue uploading this interview. I had the link to CLASH pinned to the top of my Twitter profile for the majority of last year so that no-one would miss the chance to read my conversation with these two. And I didn’t want anyone to miss out because this is probably one of my prouder moments in music journalism.
When I first got asked to interview Krept and Konan about their then upcoming album, The Long Way Home, I wasn’t massively excited. Don’t get me wrong, I like their music but back then I wasn’t too familiar with many of their songs and I wasn’t expecting to be bowled over by their debut LP.
As with previous UK artists who have enjoyed some success in America via co-signs from select influential US stars, I thought Krept and Konan would fall victim to that fleeting fame and the pressures of the charts, by churning out some sub-par music to appease the mainstream audience and keep their US friends engaged. But I was (sort of) wrong. Ok, so the album wasn’t full of gritty grime and it featured quite a few big names, such as Ed Sheehan and Wiz Khalifa, on some pop-style tunes BUT it was a solid effort.
I received The Long Way Home a few months before it was released, allowing me some time to let it sink in. And I enjoyed it. It wasn’t what I expected. It was well put together, consistent, vulnerable in parts and fun too.
So when it came to the interview, I had a lot to ask the two South Londoners – and they had a lot to tell me. I was pleasantly surprised to hear their mature take on the music industry and their impressive work ethic. I found myself relating to them somewhat and being drawn in by their personalities, which is always a sign of good conversation. Plus, after we finished speaking, I had a better appreciation for Krept and Konan’s music and have championed their work ever since. And that to me is the sign of great conversation with music artists; the type of conversation that gets you thinking and makes you re-evalute your previous assumptions. Hence, why I feel so proud of this piece.
I’ve included some of the interview below. For the full read, head over to CLASH. It’s worth a read, Krept agrees.
“We have pre-album nerves. We’re shaky.”
Award-winning and record-breaking, it seems that UK rap duo Krept & Konan cannot relax. “I’m always thinking about what we’ve still got to do, what is next to achieve,” Krept admits. Their highly-anticipated album, ‘The Long Way Home’, recently hit Number 2 on the iTunes chart based solely on pre-orders, last year they bagged a MOBO and a BET Award.
“Now we’re talking about dropping an EP,” he adds. “I should just do the album campaign and chill but I can’t. We’re even talking about album two already.” Konan clarifies: “It’s because we know that music is so fickle, you have to go hard. You can take one break and it can all get taken from you.” Yet it’s almost impossible to imagine the rug being swept from under Krept & Konan’s firmly placed feet when you consider how hard they have worked to get here.
Since embarking on this journey as a duo eight years ago, the South London stars have put in as much time and effort as possible to be recognised amongst the cream of the crop. And most importantly, they have done so on their own terms.
Before signing a deal with Virgin EMI Records in 2013, Krept & Konan found themselves coming up against label executives who struggled to understand their artistry and even suggested they form a group with a singer or a guitarist instead of remaining a rap double act. “It just made us think that all the hard work me and Konan had done was ignored,” Krept recalls. “But we just used that as fuel. Like ‘Cool, we’re going to do us’ and that’s when things took off and people started taking us more seriously.”
Fast forward to the present day and the Thornton Heath twosome are getting co-signs from US hip-hop power players including French Montana, Wiz Khalifa and Tyga. You only have to scan the array of features on their debut album to realise just how seriously they’re now considered: from the chilled out ‘Dreams’ with Ed Sheeran, to the hard-hitting ‘Certified’ with Rick Ross and their DJ Mustard-produced new single ‘Freak Of The Week’ featuring Jeremih, ‘The Long Way Home’ plays like a roster of current hit-makers, who have each eagerly jumped on board Krept & Konan’s well-built ship.
“(Rick Ross) was saying to us it was the best UK music he’d heard,” Konan explains of their collaboration with the Maybach Music heavyweight. “He was more gassed about the track than we were! (His feature) was completely organic.”
The inclusion of such prominent US artists on a UK rap album could be seen as a risk. Whether or not UK rappers need co-signs from their American counterparts has become hotly debated this year following Kanye West’s BRIT Awards performance in February. However, the Play Dirty pair – who were amongst Ye’s black-clad mob- are not concerned with being perceived as sell-outs or craving US acceptance. Instead, they are choosing to see their big-name features as a mark of success.
“It’s like when Madonna kissed Britney Spears,” Konan begins…
Continue reading here.
Let me know what you think of their music, if you checked out the album, by leaving a comment below or tweeting me: @natashananner