Spitting since 2005, the duo first saw the spotlight after their remix of Jay Z/Kanye's 'Otis' went viral on YouTube back in 2011. Quickly becoming the biggest names in UK hip hop, their debut album, The Long Way Home, recently smashed the UK charts, coming in at number two. We went down to catch up with the MCs, chatting music, PUMA and even finding out how they got their alliterative stage names.
Check out the video and full interview below:
What’s happening? We’ve come to introduce the Evolution Apparel pack with Krept and Konan. These guys are killing it in the UK, and even globally. Making noise everywhere. How you guys doing?
Krept + Konan – Good, man.
What’s been going on for the last however long?
Krept – My God. Where do we start?
Konan – Yeah, where do we start?
Krept – We’ve just released our debut album, The Long Way Home.
Yeah, how do you feel about that?
Krept – Mate! For a UK rap album to get that high in the charts was nuts! It’s never happened before. So I was just glad that we were the ones doing that. Pioneering that. We just got a plaque for it. It’s on 200,000 copies. And then we’re doing shows, we’ve got a tour coming up. There’s just so much we’re sorting out. We’re just enjoying it and reaping the benefits of all of the hard work that we’ve put in.
So when you got number one, what were you guys doing at the time?
Krept – I was in my bed. The label had just messaged me saying “You guys came in at number one!”
Konan – We were at 20, then nine. It was just going up slowly but surely and then in the morning it was at number one. POW! And we were just like “We need to hold it”, so we were looking at who the competition was. I think Lionel Richie was just on our tail.
(Laughs) You had Lionel behind you?
Konan – Yeah. Go away!
Was he shouting “Hello!”?
Krept – (Laughs) He’d just done Glastonbury so his album was selling. But then Ed Sheeran dropped his album to half price.
Konan – And then he dropped us off. We went to number two. And we were like “We’ve got to stay there. We’ve got to get Ed.” We were doing as much as we could to get back up there but nah man, he beat us.
Krept – But still, even number two’s been the highest UK rap album ever in the country, so you can’t complain, man!
Respect! That’s very big. So The Long Way Home, you have a few very big features on that album. What was it like to work with the likes of Rick Ross, Whiz Khalifa, YG?
Konan – It was surreal, because we grew up listening to them. When we were rapping and thinking “I want to be a rapper”, these were the kind of people we were listening to. So to actually get them on your first ever album is a bit crazy. Like, Rick Ross in the studio and he’s there doing his thing and it’s just weird. And they’re coming through asking stuff like “What’s your inspiration?”. It’s crazy going toe to toe with these people. Obviously we’ve worked with French Montana before that, when we shot the video with him and Chinx (RIP Chinx), Whiz, YG. They’re all proper blessed, all of them.
Is there anybody going forward that you’d love to do a feature with? Anyone in mind?
Krept – Rhianna!
Konan – (Laughs) Her name’s in enough songs, man!
Have you heard from her?
Krept – Nah. One day maybe.
Konan – You’ve just got to put it in the air, innit.
Krept – Yeah, you’ve just got to put it in the air.
So, you guys have come on to global success. A lot of that’s been done through social media like YouTube. For you, how important is social media when it comes to doing what you guys do?
Krept – It’s very important. It’s the most important thing, because social media is a platform for the people that don’t get the TV and radio coverage. The only option they have is social media. If you dominate that, you’re then competing with people that are on radio.
Konan – Yeah, everyone’s turning to social media.
Krept – It’s made the world smaller.
Konan – I feel like if you dominate that, you’ve got the world in your palm. So we try to focus on all of the outlets as much as we can. You can go direct with it, you don’t have anyone blocking you. You don’t have to send it to the TV or the radio and wait for them to approve it. Your fans can go look at and watch your stuff whenever they want. So yeah, it’s very important.
So what do you guys use the most? Like, are you on Snapchat? Instagram?
Konan – Snapchat’s kind of the newest one that I’ve kind of got onto. But I feel like I’ve got to do all of them because everyone’s everywhere. It’s become an addiction now. On Snapchat you’ve got to do this, then on Instagram you’ve got to do that, then on Twitter you’ve got to say this. It’s just about trying to get to as many people as you can. Because a lot of people have it now and they probably follow a lot of people, they can miss posts sometimes. So I feel like if they didn’t see it on Insta, they probably saw it on Twitter. If they didn’t see it on Twitter, they’ve watched the video on Snapchat of me saying “Yo, go on there!”. They’re all very important.
There’s one question I know a lot of people want to know the answer to: Krept and Konan, where did the names come from?
Krept – It was accidental. I was called Krept and he was called Konan. I was called Krept because I have loads of creps. It was meant to be ‘Creps’ but people kept saying “Crept”, so I just ran with it.
Konan – Mine’s Konan like the Barbarian, but I spell it with a K. Obviously I’m still short now, but I was shorter than this and I had a big afro, and I was running around with my top off and that, so that’s where the name came from.
So that just kind of flowed into Krept and Konan?
Krept – And then we just done music like, not thinking about “Krept and Konan” as our names. There were loads of us, and it just ended up being me and him left, so it just ended up being Krept and Konan. It looks like we planned it, but we didn’t. Fate, innit?
It definitely works, because you think Krept and Konan have always been exactly that, but you guys originated far from that individually.
Krept – Well any name you feed someone, they just get used to it anyway. It could be “Krept and Tolu”. If we just said we were Krept and Tolu for seven years straight, you’d be sat here now like “Krept and Tolu goes, man!”.
(Laughs) So before you guys launched properly and before you went global, you went around with Skepta on his tour. Obviously now you guys are doing your own tours, but do you take a lot from that first tour that you did with Skepta?
Konan – That was crazy. If you just start doing music, you kind of see what it’s actually like when you go on tour. With Skepta, because we were all cool with each other, it was like we got to experience it properly. A lot of people go on a tour and they’re separate from the other artists, they don’t get to interact with them, they do their thing and they leave. But we were on the bus together day in, day out, waking up in different cities. We didn’t really have clothes with us so we would wake up in the morning and just go to the town centre and buy clothes from the shops and stuff. They’d lock down the whole shopping centre. We’d get rushed by fans and they’d have to lock us in Police would come. It was crazy! It was a great experience. I feel like that’s stuck with us. So when we do our tour at the end of the year we’ve got to top that, man.
Go HAM! The experiences of your tour, compared to like your studio time and your performing, is there anything that you enjoy more?
Krept – Performing.
Konan – Yeah, definitely.
Krept – When you’re on stage, that’s you performing the songs that you make in the studio and seeing people go crazy to it. Basically controlling a crowd of thousands of people and making everyone go nuts and mosh pitting, crowd surfing. The energy level is nuts and I just feel like nothing compares to that. That’s definitely my most favourite part. And getting to travel the world.
Konan – That’s the bonus. When you’re from here, after a while you get used to people knowing your stuff because you’re from here, but when you go to another country and they know your songs and they’re going crazy it’s mad. We went to Israel and they knew 'Freak of the Week', and then we went Dubai and they knew 'Don’t Waste My Time'. You’re going here and you’re going there and they know the stuff. It’s a mad feeling that stuff that I made up in my bathroom, everyone’s saying it.
That’s quality. You can just say one thing, put the mic out and everyone’s just joining in.
Konan – It’s crazy!
So do you vibe to your own tunes?
Krept – Yeah, definitely. We’ll make a song and the next day I’ll see Konan and he’s like “It’s banging, that tune from yesterday, you know!”
Konan – By the time everybody gets our songs, we’ve heard it a million times. Some people will be like “Yo! Your songs!” and we’re like “Yeah, I hear you. I’ve heard it like, a million times.” We’re kind of on to the next one. By then, we’re rinsing another song that no one’s heard. Turning up. I remember before 'Don’t Waste My Time', I was listening to it and I was dancing and I was like “This is going to go off!”, just playing it over and over again like “This is going to go crazy!”. Now, every time it drops, you hear the crowd roar and I’m just like “I knew it!”
That’s mad. And it leads me on to my next question: Your punchlines, they’re well known. How do you guys come up with them?
Konan – I feel like it just happened. For example, you think “I’m going to make an uptempo song”, and we’ll try, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. 'Don’t Waste My Time' just happened by accident. I was cleaning my bath and I remember saying to myself “They’re wasting their bloody time!”. I don’t know why. I was talking to myself but I said those words and I was like “Don’t waste my time!”. I wrote it in my phone while I was cleaning the bath and I had it then. I started saying it to a melody. So we finished off our mixtape, Young Kingz, and I remember we were doing My Story, finishing the beat and the producer goes “I’ve got a beat. It’s a trap beat, I don’t know if you’ll like it” so I was like “Alright, play it”. I heard it and I was like “I’ve got something for this! Send it! Send it! Send it!” and then we added it last minute. It just happens naturally. With the bars, you kind of just say anything that’s on your mind. We went LA at the beginning of the year on a private jet, so when I’m saying “Have you a McDonald’s on a G4?”, we’d actually had McDonald’s on a G4. It was a real thing. We kind of just put real life situations into the lyrics.
Krept – I might see something and think “That’d be a sick punchline!” So I’ll save it on my phone.
I bet you guys are just scrolling through social media and people are using your punchlines as hashtags.
Krept – You do lyrics and you get people saying “Oh my God! This is my life! I relate to this so badly” and then they’re using it in their own life situations and then they use it to express their own emotion. My friend messaged us the other day like “This is the anthem, man. This is real.” He played this a girl a song from our album and was like “I’m falling for you”.
I know I’ve definitely had a text message saying “Tell them don’t waste my time” (laughs). So you guys have done a lot of things. What was the best experience? What’s the thing that you can turn round to each other and say “This is the best thing that’s happened so far”?
Konan – They’ve all been the best experience. Getting to bring my mum on the MOBO stage. We literally come back from Ibiza yesterday and the MP of Croydon wanted to meet us. So he was showing us around the Houses of Parliament, asking us what we can do to help the youth. To go from being on the streets to the MP of your area saying “We want some advice from you to help the area” is crazy. Then going to Dubai. We went to five countries in two weeks. Doing stuff like that, you’re always on a plane. You’re going to this country, that country. It’s surreal. The BET awards, winning that, working with artists…
Krept – Seeing big celebrities as well. And working with big brands. Like, the heads of big brands saying “We really love your stuff!” It’s just mad!
Konan – Performing in Canada at OVO Fest.
Krept – Yeah! It’s just sick. There’s so much stuff. To say that one thing has been the best… Winning the first MOBO though, that feeling was one of the best feelings, because that was the first time that we’d won an award.
Konan – We weren’t expecting that. We were up against Sam Smith and we were just some guys who’d dropped a mixtape. To just be on the stage was emotional. Before it I was like “Yeah! I’m going to go up there and say this, I’m going to say that.” But when it came to the time I just couldn’t say anything, I was shellshocked.
So what’s next for you guys?
Krept – Obviously we’re doing a tour, and just making new music, keeping everything going, man. Releasing new stuff. Being innovative. Dropping creative projects and just trying to be creative and just pioneering this thing. Because it’s never been done before, for UK rappers to make it so far and to have a certain level of respect in rap music. We’re like, leaders of the new school, basically.
Do you have any advice for anybody who’s starting where you guys were and wants to do the same thing?
Konan – It’s going to be very difficult. But if you want this, you’ve got to work hard for it. It might look easy, because you probably see us putting out the good parts, but there are a lot of things that go wrong and we just have to bounce back. Just keep going. Stay consistent. Be persistent. And just be hungry. Even when you get to a position where things start falling into place, you’ve still got to be hungry, because everyone’s going to be expecting you to top that.
That’s deep. We’re going to switch it up a sec. Obviously we’re here for the Puma apparel pack that you’re wearing right now. You’ve both got distinctive styles. You wake up in the morning and you’re like “Boom, I’m going to put this on”. Is it a conscious decision or do you just roll with it?
Krept – I just freestyle all the time. It depends on what I’m doing. Like, if I’m doing something like the studio, I’ll probably fling on a tracksuit. It’s quick, it’s comfortable, neat, clean. Then obviously if you’re doing certain events you think “I’ve got to swag up today! I’ve got to stand out today!” Do you know what I mean?
Konan – Yeah. Then it’s a blazer, shirt. It does take some thought depending on what you’ve got to do.
Krept – If it’s a big event, then we prepare the outfit, but the majority of the time we just wake up and (clicks fingers) just swag up.
So out of you two, who takes the longest to get ready for a show?
Krept – Konan.
Konan – (Laughs) Nah.
Krept – Well, it might not be getting ready but he is late to everything.
Konan – (Laughs and shrugs shoulders) I’m just late.
How does it feel working with Puma?
Krept – Sick. They’ve always had us, man. It feels good to finally do an official collaboration. We’re very excited to do this.
Obviously you’ll have early memories of Puma. What are your earliest memories of the brand? What does Puma mean to you?
Krept – I think my earliest memories are of my very first pair of Puma trainers. I remember when I first got them. I was gassed! I remember I wore them to school when I wasn’t allowed. My teacher was like “You’ve got to take them off!”. I didn’t want to take them off. I was like “No! I haven’t got my shoes with me!” and she was like “Let me see your bag”. (Laughs) I had shoes in my bag, so I had to switch them.
So what do you think to the Evolution Apparel Pack that you’ve got?
Konan – Swaggy!
Krept – These are neat! You can’t go wrong with all-whites and all-blacks with a tracksuit. You can’t go wrong with it! You can wear it anywhere. (Looking at his shoes) I like these as well. I told them to send me three pairs because, you know if I get one little mark on these? I'm going to be vexed.
Konan – I’m OCD. If I see a crease I get stressed. I get stressed out! (Laughs) I keep looking at these for any marks.
Krept – When you wear trainers, there’s this crease here (points at just below toes), it’s called the crease of death! But these, you can’t crease these, because of the material. That’s the best part. Oh my God! I’ve just got…
Konan – Yeah, you’ve got to watch that material though.
You’re going to have to put that in your next track you know!
Krept – Yeah, man. The crease of death.
So, Puma have an ambassador, Usain Bolt, and we saw that you were partying with him.
Konan – Big Bolt!
How was that?
Konan – He was tall!
Krept – He’s cool! He actually wants to party and have fun. People are like “Yo! Can I get you in a snapchat?” and he’ll just take their phone and start snapping like “Yeah, man!”. He’s cool, man.
Did you get Usain Bolt doing the whole (does impression of Usain Bolt)?
Krept – We didn’t, you know! We should have!
Konan – We didn’t even think to do that. Because he was being papped hard.
Ah well, you’re hopefully going to cross paths again.
Konan - Yeah, man. I want to race him.
Are you fast?
Konan – I’m fast.
I’d say I’m pretty fast. Do you want to have a race? You’ve got the Pumas.
Konan – Do you know what, yeah? I’m a bit tired, otherwise I’d do it. And I don’t want to embarrass you (laughs).
Alright! Next time I see you, I’ll be there with a whole Puma outfit like “Come on! Let’s do this!”. Thanks so much for your time, guys. Good luck on your tour. Looking forward to catching up with you again soon!