Decked out in rings, chains and tracksuits, Krept & Konan nonchalantly enter from stage right to face their audience, launching into club favourite ‘Last Night’ amidst screams and cheers, almost competing in volume with their word-perfect audience. After a string of four guest acts, the crowd is more than ready for the main event, but unlike rock gigs where the support will perform to a dozen people catching up on their emails, here every artist is received with genuine enthusiasm.
Confessional rap artist Loyle Carner draws us in with his emotionally raw brand of hip-hop – ‘This one’s for my little sister’ – laying bare his own experiences of love and loss. True to his up-close and real persona, we find ourselves standing next to him taking selfies with fans during DJ Siobhan Bell’s final set.
Performing as part of the Red Bull Music Academy tour, earlier on in the day Krept & Konan treated us to ‘A Conversation with Krept & Konan’ in the decidedly hipster venue of Constellations
“The Red Bull Music Academy has seen involvement from over 1,500 musical luminaries over its 18-year history, with lectures from Chuck D, A$AP Rocky, Mark Ronson and M.I.A. to name but a few. Many Academy alumni have gone on to become true figureheads of their genres such as experimental electronic music producer and beat music innovator Flying Lotus; Scottish producer behind the beats of Drake and Kanye West, Hudson Mohawke; Russian DJ, producer and label head Nina Kraviz; LA soul singer Aloe Blacc; and the UK’s own Katy B.
RBMA has been pairing music legends and emerging beatsmiths since 1998 in cities such
as Cape Town, Barcelona, London, New York City, Tokyo, and Paris. This unique combination of old school knowledge and new school sounds is unrivalled for its creative exploration and achievement. Each yearly Academy event leaves behind structures to
encourage musical collaboration and creative exchange for years to come with twelve fully equipped Red Bull Studios around the world.”
In Constellations’ back room, surrounded by filament lightbulbs and various potted flora, BBC Radio 1Xtra’s Sian Anderson chatted with the pair on a couple of vintage sofas about the secrets of their success and retaining credibility in spite of it. With their roots in Croydon, South London, the duo’s childhoods were spent on the streets and at a local youth club which went some way to distract them from the constant temptation of petty crime, something that they feel was fundamental to their upbringing. So much so that they are working in conjunction with the local council to ‘breathe life into the community’ by giving opportunities within the music industry to young people back home.
After Konan’s stint behind bars in 2007 for theft he entered the music industry with fresh motivation and Krept at his side; the duo spending many years in the underground UK grime-rap scene releasing mixtapes and remixing popular RnB chart hits. Fast-forward to 2015 and they are winning MOBO awards for Best Hip-Hop Act and Best Album for their debut album ‘The Long Way Home’.
Performing ‘Freak Of The Week’, Krept & Konan’s biggest track to date at #9 in the UK charts, generates by far the biggest crowd response as their most pop-like release yet. Despite increasingly poppy hooks cropping up through their work, it seems Krept & Konan haven’t alienated the grime-ophiles of their fanbase, with a small-scale moshpit starting up during the darker, more aggressive UK Rap hit ‘Don’t Waste My Time’.
Staying true to male rap tradition, K&K’s lyricism concerns designer clothing, money, ‘gyals’ and cars. Lines such as ‘Gig shows, stacking doe… / Fuck boys probably still jacking phones / Roll up in my AJ slippers…’ are fascinating examples of K&K consciously distancing themselves from a less privileged lifestyle whilst never not speaking in London gang vernacular.
With an instrumental production drawn straight from grime, ’Do It For The Gang’ is shot through with choppy, effected percussive inflections and has everyone jumping holding phones aloft, and permanently open on Snapchat. The crowd share this affiliation for the app with the artists themselves, many rap stars using it as a medium to share tracks, beat samples and lyrics with their fans on top of documenting much of their day to day activity. Their Snapchat stories function as a running commentary on their lives, from antics in the studio and onstage to flashy after-parties; girls and Ciroc aplenty. A quick tap through K&K’s current story shows them hanging out in a top floor London apartment with a private tattoo artist, a far cry from the days of putting ‘bare mixtapes in Bagel King’ in the hopes of ‘stacking p’.
With a live show to be reckoned with, a devoted and steadily growing fanbase and new tracks in the pipeline, most recently a collaboration with MoStack, Krept & Konan are here to stay and we’d better be watching.
Watch the new music video for ‘Liar Liar Liar’ (MoStack, Krept, Konan, J Hus) here.