With their new mixtape Young Kingz seeing release on September 2nd, Krept and Konan (aka Play Dirty) speak to SB.TV about teaming up with some of the UK’s finest talent, the possibility of moving into movies and breaking the US…
When I was prepping for this sit down, the word ‘versatile’ came up a lot. On Young Kingz can fans expect to see reflective, confessional and introspective material like My Story and The Other Side sit alongside tracks with completely different themes and subject matter like Don’t Waste My Time?
Konan: One hundred percent.
Krept: A million percent. Yeah, we even have interludes on there to break it up and switch it over to the next section. We chose songs that we feel work best coming after each other and so if it’s a life song – a slow song – then we make sure that the song we use to bring it in is on the same vibe and then we eventually switch it up. We use poetry and interludes to break it all up and blend it all together.
Konan: We wanted a whole body of work instead of us just talking about one subject. We haven’t put out a mixtape in so long and we wanted to give listeners different feels, touching on everything.
You have a whole slew of impressive features on the mixtape including appearances from Tinie Tempah, George The Poet, Giggs, G Frsh, Chip, Yungen, Fekky and more – talk to us about getting those acts together – were there any memorable studio sessions?
Konan: The Giggs session was hilarious. With what he talks about in his lyrics you’d think that he is a serious guy, but he’s really not. He’s hilarious – he gave us jokes. Everytime we were in the studio we would always banter while working, trying to get the right vibes and feel in the studio. That was one of the more memorable sessions – I like working with Giggs a lot. He kinda started this UK Rap thing, putting it on the map first and so it’s always a pleasure. We hollered at Chip and he came down the same day, and we got cracking – so big up Chip…
Krept: Big up Chip – he works well in the studio and he is productive. He wasn’t just sitting there, he knows what he wants and has an idea about how he wants his music.
Konan: He is specific, he knows exactly what he wants…obviously with Tinie we didn’t get in the studio with him because he was doing his shows and stuff. We gave him a shout and he said that he’d record his lines when he got back. He wrote his lyrics whilst he was in Sri Lanka and came to London for two days – I think – he laid down his verses, sent them to us and then went back to Iceland.
Konan: He fit us in nicely [laughs] so big up Tinie for that.
Krept: His verse was proper as well. You’d think most people would be like ‘I’m abroad, I’m abroad I can’t do it’ but he took time out of his schedule to do it whilst he was abroad so big up to him…
Konan: When we did our mixtape we were in the studio for weeks sleeping on the couch and on the floor and we didn’t even leave. Yungun is family so it was just like, ‘Yo Yungs, you wanna tape?’ and it’s cool. You know them ones, because it’s family he came down and we got cracking. In this session we originally had a first beat, we woke up in the morning and we weren’t really feeling the beat no more so we started to work on a second beat and got that done by three in the morning and finished the next day.
Krept: Yeah, it was good man.
Konan: With Fekky he came down to the studio – banged out the hook and got that done. I got there late, heard everything going off and everyone put their verses down. He sent back over his verse because he was flying out with Tempa T doing shows. George The Poet came down to the studio and blessed us, the day he came down he was studying for his exams – I think that was the first time that we really met him. There was chilling, bantering and he later came down again to shoot a little trailer – but it didn’t really come out how we wanted. He graduated from Cambridge the second time he came down…so big him up for that as well. We had to work around everyone’s schedules but we got it done.
Surprisingly for me, because of your strong presence on the UK underground scene, Krept you in particular seem to Tweet a lot about the bigger UK/US mainstream acts – the Kendrick’s, the Drake’s etc. You guys have had a taste of your own mainstream success and so are you content looking in to that world or is that kind of international recognition the big goal?
Krept: Yeah, of course. It would be silly to be doing rap and say ‘that not a part of where I wanna be.’ We’ve done a lot on the underground, we’ve had tasters of the mainstream stuff and we’ve seen how life is on that side of things. We are aspiring to be that, and hopefully be bigger – on that level where even the Americans are respecting you as a rapper. It’s hard to gain the respect of Americans, with the different cultures and the language barrier – so if we could break that barrier down it would be sick. There are people trying to do that now, people like Chip and Tinie with his song with 2 Chainz. Slowly but surely we are getting there and hopefully we can be a part of that too.
I read an interview where you two were speaking about being approached by casting and being offered film opportunities off the back of the My Story video – did any thing come from them that you can tell us about? Is that something you guys are really interested in, the acting?
Konan: Nothing has come from it yet. People hollered at me asking if I would do acting, and I said I’d get involved if the role was good.
Krept: What would be ideal is putting out an actual film about the area. That would be something that we really would be interested in.
Konan: We’re probably going to start trying looking into that [Both agree] We’ve got many more stories that we never touched on, the one featured in My Story was a bit heartfelt and recent and so that’s the one we gave them but if we went back to dig into our little archive we could give them whole movie about what’s going on out here.
I’ve become interested in the dynamic between the two of you after so many years as a duo – nowadays is your connection fluid? Is it unity? Is it brotherhood? Is it partners in crime? Can you still piss each other off?
Krept: It’s all of them things you just listed man [laughs] because we are always together. We are gonna have times where we disagree and we’re arguing, but we both know what we want at the end of it. Sometimes it might be personal preference rather than arguing – minor arguments – but most of time we are out here working our arses off. It’s easier because there is two of us, he’ll be sorting out one thing and I’ll be dealing with some next thing. We’ll both be using our heads bouncing ideas back and forth off one another and I think that’s why we have such an advantage and why we’ve stayed relevant for so long – because there are two of us and two heads are better than one.
Is there a desire to be a solo artist, anywhere within the both of you?
Konan: When everything is conquered we can just do what we want, we can just take the mick. We can go solo, he can go solo, we can kill it then come back together and do it all again…
Krept: [Laughs] Take the mick! We can do a deluxe album with one disc of me and one disc with him and say ‘Yo, we can do anything we want’ [laughs]
Konan: Because there are so many opportunities flowing around we are just trying to get solid and concrete into what we are doing right now. The sky’s the limit after that I think.
When I read about Konan losing his Stepfather Carl Ned for real in 2011, as depicted in the video for My Story – one of the first things that went through my mind was what you would say to a friend who went through that. Understanding that guys do things a little differently to girls – Krept, what did you say to Konan when you found out, what could you say?
Krept: You don’t really say anything, it’s more like you try to get your mind off it through action – so we’d do things to take our minds off it. We do music and so I always motivate him to say ‘we can do this’ and see the positive of things that have happened. I’ll say ‘everything happens for a reason, and if it weren’t for that maybe we wouldn’t be have been here today.’ You’ve just gotta look at the positive, rather than look at the negative. Konan, he’s smart and he knows this himself – I don’t even have to say it to him. He will tell me more times than I would him ‘everything happens for a reason’, it was more about getting on with things and chasing this dream.
I heard that you were planning to show your mother the video for My Story, did you get round to doing so? What did she think? I can imagine it being hard for her to see it…
Konan: My brothers have probably showed it to her, they’ve just messaged me about it and they are with her more than I am. It’s a touchy – I still feel funny talking about it now because we’ve been through it together. It’s like – what do I say? I’m gonna go and see her in a couple of days and we’ll talk about it – but it’s really touchy. My Mum’s cool she’s not really a feelings person, she’s strong – strongest person I’ve ever known. She kinda help me get through it, she said “I can’t be strong unless your strong” and that kinda made me have to man up and get through this whole situation. When I see her I’ll find out what she thinks.
Konan, recently a man we don’t need to mention was sent away for at least thirty-five years for shooting your Stepdad on July 1st 2011 – do you feel justice has been served?
Konan: I can’t really comment on that situation, on whether I feel happy – because I don’t really know how I feel…You know what? It’s all about my Mum, things happen and I just feel like as long as my Mum got closure and she’s happy then I’m cool.
From what I’m reading prisoners in the UK get access to TV, PS2’s and some Internet access. Maybe this same man, at some point in his thirty five year sentence – out of curiosity or hopefully from a place of redemption – Googles ‘Krept and Konan’ or your Stepdad’s name and stumbles across this interview because SB.TV does pretty well lads…is there anything either of you would want to say to him?
Krept: Nothing to say…let the music do the talking.
Konan: Yeah just let the music and the positive-ness do the talking [pauses] you know what you did. Karma comes around…that’s it really.
Krept: You’ve just gotta get on with life, you know what I mean? Music, music, music…
You’ve both spoken about the renewed passion, determination and dedication to music that this incident re-ignited in you, talk a little more about how the events immortalized within My Story regenerated you for the better…
Konan: We already knew things are real out here but it opened my eyes. I realised that you can go at any time and you will not be expecting it. Everybody thinks that they’re gonna live forever but when you really check it – you’re not. So I feel like it was a call for me – it was like ‘do what you wanna do with your life, chase your dreams, put your heart into everything you wanna do.’ You could die tomorrow and not have lived your life. After that I felt like I wanna do music and this is what I’m gonna do – I’m gonna chase this and this is what is gonna happen. Forget everything else, I’m never gonna go back and do what I don’t wanna do. I’m not gonna sit in a nine to five because that’s not what I wanna do. It put passion into my heart, I realised I needed to get out of some of the situations I was in and lose some of the negative people around me – and just focus. This is what I need to do and this is what is going to elevate me.
Krept: It makes you realise that you want to go as far away from that as possible, and whatever will take you away from that – or the closest thing to taking you away from that, which is music –that’s what we’re gonna do. It’s taking us away from that now… if it wasn’t for music Lord knows what would be going on now…