Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Krept & Konan: Special K & K

Krept  & Konan
Krept  & Konan Krept  & Konan Krept  & Konan Krept  & Konan

“We treated everything the same, we had the same producers, we went to the same studio, it was a bit harder to do because we were trying to do so many other things as well as trying to do the album, and the pressures of the label like Where is it? Where is it? That was about it really.” Konan on the pressure to deliver the duo’s debut studio album on a major label.

It’s been a busy few years for South London hip hop duo, Krept & Konan. Following the success of their underground mixtapes “Redrum” and “Tsunami,” the pair burst through to the mainstream with their 2013 release “Young Kingz”, a mixture of dancefloor bangers and introspective personal stories of struggle and survival. Now they’re back and this time they’ve taken the long way home…

“I feel the same thing” Krept continues… “There obviously was a bit more producers involved. We probably did it a bit more intensely. It took a bit more time. On our last project, there was probably like three producers on the whole project. With this one there’s DJ Mustard, the majority of our producers and some extra producers like Lo Key. This time we had some songwriters getting involved as well. With the last project there wasn’t really songwriters involved, it was literally just me and Konan. As Konan said, the only difference really was that there was a bit more pressure.

The album entitled “The Long Way Home” features collaborations with some of today’s biggest U.K. and U.S. artists including; Wiz Khalifa, Rick Ross, Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sande as well as old friend Skepta. But with the cream of the crop knocking on their door, how did they decide which musical partnership would make the cut? “The only person I knew we wanted on the album was Skepta from the jump,” Konan explains… “The last song we did with Skepta was in 2011 when we went on tour with him. He said, Yo, when you do an album, make sure I’m on it! So it was only right that we got busy with him. Everyone else was more like natural...meeting them and they’d say, Yo, I want to get on the album and we said, Yeah, let’s go! We were making songs and the songs suited the people, like the beats suited the people that we got on the album, so it was all naturally falling into place. We never had a pre-planned goal to get certain people on the album” Krept interjects, (It happened) “because we were around certain people. It wasn’t forced”.

The projects ambiguous title comes from driving the long way home one night while listening to Jhene Aiko and with down tempo electronic production and haunting vocals on new tracks like “Drifting Away”, it’s clear that Ms Aiko’s sound is an influence on the new album. “We’re influenced by everything, but funny enough we didn’t plan to make the songs like that. They just ended up being like that. Even Mica has a similar tone to her, the singer on "Drifting Away"; they’ve got that Jhene Aiko vibe man! We were trying to get Jhene to do (the vocals) when she came here but she didn’t have time because she was so busy doing her second album.”

On returning to the studio with Skepta however, the boys were clearly happy with the reunion. “You know what, it’s weird because it’s not like the last time we saw Skepta, was when we were on tour, we’re always around Skepta!” Krept shares. “We’ve done similar shows, we chill, we go to the same places, so when were in the studio it was like we we’re just chillin’. It wasn’t like, oh this makes sense to be back in the studio. We’re friends, so we’re usually around each other in general.”

2013’s “Young Kingz” mixtape entered the Guinness Book of World Records for being ‘the highest charting independent release ever,’ after it charted at number 19 in the UK album chart, purely due to clever use of social media platforms and a solid army of fans. “We like to build anticipation,” Konan reveals on their secret to success. “We’re more of a quality over quantity kind of act. We don’t flood everyone with a lot of music, so that when we do come back its always bigger and better than the last time. The last mixtape that we put out before “Young Kingz” was in 2010, there was a three year gap. We went on tour, there was the Otis freestyle that got three million YouTube hits. Then we had tracks with both Yungen and Chip that got big. We went on tour with Devlin as well, so by the time we brought out the mixtape, it was like “they’re finally bringing out a project!” We like to drip feed everyone. With the album, we didn’t tell anyone what was happening. We had shot three videos before we even gave you the track list or the title. That’s our strategy, our marketing plan. We just like to build the anticipation…I feel like, that’s one thing that we’re good at doing over everybody else. Once we give you something and there’s hype around it, we capitalise off that hype.”

The remix for “Don’t Waste My Time” certainly created hype, as it features a who’s who of hip hop including; French Montana, Wretch 32, Chip, Fekky and Chinx. The boys explain the difficulties involved with getting the one-off super group together to make the video. “The main shoot was done on my birthday,” Krept explains with a smile. But the majority of it was on different days. The French Montana part we were in New York. Then we had a separate day to shoot Wretch’s bit and another to shoot Chip’s and Fekky’s bit. It was loads of days shooting then we put it together to make one crazy video. It was natural, we said to everyone get your people and we’re going to come to where you are and we’re going to film you and we did that with each artist, and then we put everything together.”

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To read more from our exclusive interview with Krept & Konan, including the duo's plans to open restaurants, their youth project work and the murder of Konan's step-father…Pick up a copy of the latest Blues & Soul magazine at your local magazine retailer, inc; WH Smith, Menzies + selected Euro Foods, Cost Cutters and a plethora of independents everywhere… if they don't stock it, ask for a "B&S shop save" and they will get it for you.
Words Karen Lawler

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