INTERVIEW: Krept & Konan in Dubai
UK hip hop artists Krept & Konan have just touched down in Dubai. The rap duo are here promoting their debut album, which features megastars like Wiz Khalifa, Rick Ross, and French Montana. In the past year their fame has seen them break through genres and appeal to the masses – they’ve collaborated with Ed Sheeran, shared a stage with Kanye West, and recently been signed by Virgin.
But the hard work doesn’t stop. When we walk into Media One hotel to meet them, there’s a crew of cameramen filming a documentary, and Krept & Konan are busy on social media. Konan’s tweeting, and Krept is filming a quick Snapchat for his followers to win tickets to Wireless festival. Ever the professionals, they put their phones away and mic up for the interview, explaining they’ve just got off the plane. Ahead of their gig at N’Dulge at Atlantis The Palm on Friday night, we spoke to them about sleeping in studios, rumours of a rift with Jay Z, and the harrowing story behind their music.
Hi guys! So, this is your first time in Dubai. What do you think?
Konan: It’s very hot. We got out of the car and we were baking.
Konan: It was like an air conditioner just blowing heat.
What are you doing while you’re here?
Krept: We’re doing a few clubs. NDulge at the Palm, Crystal…
Konan: They’re taking us around. Hopefully if the breeze ‘aint blowing we can do some skydiving.
Krept: Yeah that would be sick! We’re going to go to the beach and stuff.
Konan: And the mall. Everything!
Krept: We’re tourists as well as here to perform.
Where do the nicknames come from?
Krept: Kreps means trainers as a slang term in London. I had loads of trainers when I was younger, so people used to say kreps, kreps, kreps. But somehow everyone ended up calling me Krept so I just ran with it!
Konan: The name Konan came from Konan the Barbarian. When I was younger I was a bit wild so I kind of got that name. I had a big afro and I was short. Well… I’m still short now, I ‘aint really grown much, but I was stocky as well. I kind of lost weight [laughs].
Long Way Home is your debut album, but you’ve been around for eight years. What’s it been like up until this point?
Krept: A rollercoaster. I think we started taking music really seriously [after launching the mixtape] Tsunami in 2010. It was a hobby before. We put it to iTunes, we went to number two and it was a realisation – we can do this music for real. Then the situation happened with Konan… For people that don’t know I’ll leave Konan to explain.
Konan: A situation happened in my house where, I was coming home from the radio and like two guys… I heard them coming from behind me and, a long story short they ended up running in my house. They kicked off my front door and ended up shooting my mum and killing my step dad. It was kind of crazy from there. I was homeless because my house was a murder scene. Through that situation, I just focused on music.
You started out rapping from the heart as a way to express yourself. Is this album different now that you’re signed?
Konan: We tried to touch on everything that’s happened. Even going back and trying to touch on things that we didn’t talk about before, like talking about how things progressed, how we made songs and sleeping in the studio… Home and situations with girls. Kind of showing our vulnerable side.
We read that you had some medical issues due to your hectic schedule making this album?
Konan: Yeah in January we rented out a studio for a whole month.
Krept: We slept there and brought suitcases. We could have easily never left the studio. I didn’t know if it was daytime, night time… All we was eating was junk food and I had to get root canal. Konan had to get glasses because he was just staring at screens.
Konan: One of the engineers’ little brothers wanted to get into the music industry so he came to stay with us for a week to kind of see how we work, and he ended up fainting in the toilet because he couldn’t handle the not sleeping. He just called it quits and said I can’t even do this! Now he’s got a 9-5! I mean, we take it really seriously. When we work, we work.
In the January we ended up flying to New York, doing a video with French [Monatana], shooting it on P Diddy’s roof, flying back to the studio, the going to shows, then coming back. It was work, work, work.
What was it like performing with Kanye?
Konan: It was crazy. We got the text when we were in the studio and [Skepta] was like, “Have you got black track suits? Meet me in the O2 in like 20 mins.” We had to get people to meet us at the O2, and he was like “Kanye wants us to come on stage!” There was 20 of us in black track suits and hoodies, looking very thuggish. This is at the Brits when everyone is in suits! It was a crazy experience.
Krept: People think that Kanye is… I don’t know what perception they have of him, but he was very cool. He was like [puts on an American accent], “Thank you, thank you for coming out man.” He was cool. And we got to see Kim Kardashian…
Konan: Yeah she’s alright…! [Both laugh]
Krept: It was sick, performing on stage with him on the first single of his new album. And he’s used that as the official video now.
How about Jay Z. Your early cover of Jay Z’s track got millions of hits, but it was removed from YouTube. Is there any beef there?
Krept: I don’t know man… everything seems alright. Someone made up a rumour that Jay Z personally took it down.
Konan: [Laughs] As if he was like “nah I don’t like those guys.”
Krept: Or “Jay Z paid this much to get a video removed” or something like that. I don’t know where it came from. All it was was copyright. Some [third party] took the video down. I wasn’t like Jay Z said “you have to take the video down man.” It wasn’t like that.
You’ve worked with Ed Sheeran, Emilie Sande, Rick Ross… You’re signed. You have a tour coming up. Have you finally made it?
Krept: I’m probably going to do a world tour in arenas some day and think, I need to do stadiums. And then when I do stadiums I’ll think, I need to do parks! I don’t know when it’s going to come, but there will be a realisation.
Konan: Music is very fickle. We’ve seen a lot of people get to a stage and then fall completely off. We’re always on our toes. We don’t want to get complacent or get content with where we’re at. I feel like when we’re in the big leagues with all the big artists that will be the time. We just pray that happens.
Krept & Konan @ N’Dulge