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Interview: Krept & Konan

Recently nominated for ‘Best Newcomer’ at this year’s MOBO Awards and their mixtape Young Kingz entering the UK top 20 hip hop charts last week, the term Midas Touch and this young duo are appearing to go hand in hand. However, their recent run of amazing achievements follows on from harsher times as depicted in the very powerful ‘My Story’ video. We sit gown with Krept & Konan to discuss their career to date, the story behind ‘My Story’ and stealing YouTube traffic from Jay-Z.

PN: You are very creative with your visuals and music, but also quite strategic. Who is the creative force and who has the business mind?
Konan: We’ve both got that business mind. Most people would think its one person, but it’s both of us.
Krept: They are joint decisions and ideas. We’re both thinking at 100mph. He’ll be thinking of 100 different ideas and so will I. It’s just how we work.

PN: You sound like you make a really good team, is it difficult to let other people in i.e. management, etc…?
(In unison) It is, very!
Konan: There are two of us already and we’re extremely active. If someone comes in and they’re not moving at the same pace as us, we’ll just clash. Me and Krept are on the same page. Even if I don’t say anything, I know I can leave him to go and do something. If we’re editing a video and I can’t make it, I know I can leave him to do it and it’s going to come back how I want. He knows how I think and we think the same, but a manager… we have a manager now, but we’re always having disputes [laughs]. Most people get a manager and just kick back and let the manager do everything, but we don’t. We do it before he does. Its like, ‘why didn’t you guys let me do it?’ and we’re just like, ‘you’re taking long, bro. We want it done now.’
Krept: Yeah, that’s how we are. With the ‘Young Kingz’ mixtape, we just did everything ourselves. Every single thing on this mixtape is just me and him.
Konan: Our manager saw ‘My Story’ when it came out.

PN: Really? So what is he/she actually doing?
Konan: We give him the little things [laughs]
Krept: He didn’t really know we were doing a mixtape until it was finished. We’re always working. We’ve got a video out, we’ve got another done which we shot with Yungen and we’re shooting another one on Saturday. We’re doing all this ourselves. We’re just like, if you want to jump on the wave, come on board. But make sure you can push this boat as well.

PN: When you did the ‘Otis’ freestyle, you kind of stole Jay-Z and Kanye’s YouTube traffic and directed it towards your own video…
(Unison) Yeah! [laughs]

PN: How do you come up with such marketing tactics?
Krept: We didn’t even know that was going to have that kind of effect. We have such an active fan base… we were just like, ‘everyone, go on the Jay-z and Kanye video and flood it with comments for our one. Now! now! now!’  And everyone just started doing it. There were like 20 pages of comments about our video [laughs]. Our fans are so sick. So, every one that watched that video probably thought, ‘ok, 20 pages worth of comments… may as well have a look.’
Konan: You have to watch marketing. We proper study that. We realised that a lot of products are to do with the marketing rather than the actual brand, so we just try to incorporate that into our music. Krept was just like, ‘I’m going to make all the fans flood it and send the traffic our way and see if it works’ and it worked.

PN: Your ‘Otis’ video then got taken down for copyright infringement. Do you think Jay-Z may have seen it given all the hype?
Krept: Maybe, hopefully. I think if it never got taken down it may have…

PN: Surpassed?
Konan: Maybe. Our views were catching theirs.

PN: Sabotage?
Krept: Sabotage! I was watching a Jay-Z interview and he said if he sees someone coming too close, he will put a spanner in the works basically… That’s what he said. You never know.
Konan: I have a feeling someone important saw it, because Interscope got in contact with our management talking about flying us over to America.
Krept: Def Jam as well. They wanted us to do a showcase. Nothing ever materialised. They just wanted to see what was going on.

PN: ‘My Story’ is extremely personal and very open account about Konan’s stepdad being shot and killed. It also transpires into a very moving, powerful song and video. Since the release of the song, how do you deal with people asking you about that incident all the time?
Konan: When I wrote that I kind of knew that was going to happen. I knew people would want to know about what happened and that I would have to re-visit it all the time, but I felt like, in a way, the video was a form of therapy for me. The video just came out the other day, so a lot of people still think I’m going through it now, but this happened two years ago. I’ve had time. We’ve been through the grieving and the funeral and my Mum being down, me being homeless… now it’s got to the stage where we are all kind of at the end of it. It’s happened and I’m over it. The person is in jail… obviously my Mum is happy again.

PN: Tell us about your new mixtape ‘Young Kingz’?
Konan: It’s 16 songs, intro, outro and an interlude… so 19 songs. It’s a journey. We haven’t put out a mixtape for three years, so its three years full of emotion and our story from then until now. Not just sad, there are hype songs, club songs, girl songs…

PN: What about Young Queens with a ‘z’, like on a Drake vibe?
(unison)  [laughs] no.
Krept: No, nothing for the young queens… actually there are songs for the young queens.
Konan: We should have made a song and called one of them ‘Young Queens’
Krept: Yes… we should have actually. We might have to do a deluxe version.

PN: If you could just give Notion Magazine a mention in the credits. Thanks.
Unison: Of course!

 - Trina John-Charles

‘Young Kingz’ is out now.

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