Krept & Konan
It’s testament to Krept and Konan’s strength of character, redoubtable talent and refusal to follow the rules that the South London rap duo have achieved so much in a matter of months.
The pair began 2013 as unsigned rappers with a relatively small but highly engaged fanbase. Thanks to their mixtape, ‘Young Kingz’, they closed the year with a Top 20 chart position, a MOBO award, a sold-out tour and a record deal with Virgin/Universal.
2014 has begun a bit brilliantly too; US rapper French Montana joined Wretch 32 and Chipmunk in reworking their underground anthem, ‘Don’t Waste My Time’. They became the first British MCs to feature on P.Diddy’s Revolt TV, and they received an entry into the Guinness World Book of Records thanks to ‘Young Kingz’ being the highest charting UK ‘album’ (officially it’s a mixtape) by an unsigned act.
Now, Krept and Konan are working on their major label debut with the likes of Naughty Boy (Tinie Tempah, Professor Green), Dahi (Drake, Kendrick Lamar), Zaytoven (Future, Usher, Migos’ ‘Versace’) and the largely unknown production team behind ‘Young Kingz’: ADP, Scholar & Stix, AdotSkitz and Rhymez. In true Krept and Konan style, it’s as important to them to retain their roots and creative sensibility, as it is to discover new musical ideas. “Our priority is staying credible,” says Krept. “That’s why ‘Young Kingz’ did so well, because it was organic and we didn’t chase radio play. So that’s what we want to do with this album, but on a bigger, more professional scale. ‘Young Kingz’ was a mixtape; what follows will be an album.”
Casyo ‘Krept’ Johnston and Karl ‘Konan’ Wilson, both 24, first met through mutual friends as teenagers living in South London. Growing up on tough estates in Crystal Palace (Krept) and Thornton Heath (Konan) meant the pair experienced their fair share of street crime and teenage gangs. Growing up during Grime’s golden era of Wiley and Dizzee, and influenced by everyone from Michael Jackson and Biggie Smalls, to Konan’s father, the ska singer Delroy Wilson, the pair finally decided to swap street life for hip hop.
With their YouTube views and Twitter followers building at rapid rates, Krept and Konan decided it was time to take things to the next stage. They began to construct their second mixtape, ‘Young Kingz’, enlisting features from Tinie, Giggs, Fekky and Chip. What happened next was almost implausible; how did two little known MCs manage to galvanize a group of music fans renowned for their reluctance to buy records, with no build-up and no mainstream media exposure? “We didn’t release any singles or leak any music at all. We knew we’d lose a sense of suspense otherwise,” begins Krept. “By the time the album comes out months later, everyone has moved onto the next thing.” Instead, they did a ‘Fire In The Booth’ for Radio 1Xtra’s Charlie Sloth which fast became one of the most viewed freestyles to date (it’s had over one million views so far).
After the mixtape dropped, everything finally fell into place; Krept and Konan were nominated for a MOBO, they sold out two dates at the Islington Academy where they were joined by Wretch 32, Chip, G FrSH and Sneakbo. In October, Virgin/ Universal offered them a deal.