‘Young Kingz’ Krept & Konan Discuss Their Charting Debut

‘Young Kingz’ Krept & Konan Discuss Their Charting Debut

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Words: Caroline Simionescu-Marin
Interview: DJ Sarah Harrison

Krept & Konan have maintained their stature as one of the UK’s grime scene best kept secrets until now.

The duo have returned with their latest album, Young Kingz, and one must only peep the plethora of appearances on the mixtape to understand how respected the duo are. The UK support has been phenomenal with mixtape features from Tinie Tempah, Giggs, Chip, Yungen, Fekky, G Frsh, George The Poet and more.

The Young Kingz hit the urban and mainstream audience alike with their debut track, “My Story”, telling the hard hitting tale of the murder of Konan’s step father. It’s no surprise that such a touching visual memoir got fans hooked.

The mixtape (note mixtape and NOT album) left many urban/grime music critics astonished when the duo entered the UK Top 10 in pre-orders and debuted at #19 in the Official Album Charts when released several weeks back.

The IMC’s 2013 host DJ Sarah Harrison caught up with the future superstars to find out about more about their journey…

IMC: Who is Krept & Konan? What is YOUR Story? How did the unity form?
KK: We came to know each other from friends who grew up in similar areas. Everyone we knew used to mess around and “do music” in their hoods. We started to release street mixtapes individually before realising we both possessed a mutual work ethic and understanding that the music we could make was long term. So we ventured on a joint mixtape and it blew up!

IMC: Talk to me about the ‘Play Dirty’ movement.
KK: We originally intended ‘Play Dirty’ to be our stage name as a duo, so that there was no argument as to which of our names should come first, but in the end, the word about us spread as “Krept & Konan” anyway. So in order to not waste the title, we kept it to be the face of our merchandise items.

IMC: Growing up, which artists inspired you?
KK: Without a doubt So Solid Crew, because in their prime they were at level which wasn’t perceived as urban. They were on Top of the Pops and every other mainstream music platform, but still had their underground fans and appeal. They showed the way for average youths from humble backgrounds. Dizzie Rascal and Wiley coming on the scene was also a breakthrough, but then again that’s when there was beginning to be a distinct culture shift and “urban” was becoming less commercial than it first was.

IMC: That said, do you think it’s harder for ‘urban’ acts to sign and get charted these days?
KK: Most definitely. Because it’s a different market these days. Underground music can be so easily made, promoted and accessed online that labels are finding it hard to invest in something they cannot totally put their finger on. The power has shifted almost entirely into the hands of the consumer, because they have more control on what music they choose to play and listen to, whereas before the online generation, the attention was solely on what labels presented.

IMC: The plus side to this ‘online generation’ is that you’ve managed to garner a MOBO nomination AND a charted mixtape with no management/label support. How do you feel about that?
KK: It’s obviously mental! Especially a nomination without having ever had a single/album release – unheard of. The success of Young Kingz is totally unbelievable – guess it shows that times are really changing and the people really have full power. We honestly don’t know how we’ve done it – Top 10 in the Pre-Order stages and No. 19 in the official chart upon release!! We don’t know when it’s ever going to sink in, we are more than humbled by the support received!

IMC: Are there any live performances in the pipeline?
KK:
Skepta‘s tour was our first live gig experience and it was fun and daunting at the same time since no one really knew much about us and our music. It definitely put us on the map and made it possible to bring on other artists to feature in our music while they got us to feature on theirs, and that was obviously a great push to our independent material. So now that we have all this under our wing, we hope to take the success of Young Kingz on the road with our own headline tour. 

IMC: What are the plans for Krept & Konan in 2014?
KK:
Release an album with the aim to hit larger numbers in sales and chart higher, which is obviously a slight pressuring challenge after coming in  so strong with our debut. We love what we’re doing because we listen to the fans and their needs. We just want to keep up the momentum and share that established position with current UK acts. Let’s put UK Rap on the map once and for all!

Follow Krept & Konan on Twitter: @KreptPlayDirty @KonanPlayDirty

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