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Krept and Konan: Young Kingz taking their crown

ON THE UP: UK rap duo Krept and Konan

AS FAR as conspiracy theories go, the Illuminati must be one of the most popular. The not-so-secret society that 'controls everything' within popular culture, namely hip-hop, is credited with having made the careers of the world's most powerful and famous people, such as Beyoncé and Oprah. And - according to a misguided few - is also responsible for the success of UK rap duo, Krept and Konan.

The south London pair have put in an honest graft throughout their journey to the top, overcoming naysayers and personal tragedy to proudly stand at No.10 in the official UK album charts with their mixtape Young Kingz - an impressive feat achieved without a record label or mainstream support.

And just a few weeks ago, the young rappers, also dubbed 'Young Kingz' received their first Music Of Black Origin (MOBO) nomination to add to their list of accolades, which include over 10 million hits on YouTube.

Laughing off the conspiracy theories, the musicians say that they don't take the rumours about the Illuminati seriously because it is part and parcel of fame.

“At an early stage, someone said, 'watch out for Krept, he's Illuminati,'” laughs Konan. “When you hear stuff like that, you can't take it seriously.”

Krept added: “Before we were in the music industry, we heard all that stuff. Then when we were in the music game - and not even doing anything mad - people started calling us Illuminati. Everyone is Illuminati!”

Reinforcing the notion that fame brings haters, Konan recalled a recent conversation he had after he found out about their MOBO nomination.

“[Our cover of Jay Z's] Otis came out on my birthday and so did news about our MOBO nomination. A few days later, I got a call from someone who was like 'you got nominated on your birthday, you're working with the devil,' and then they locked off the phone.”

“When people can't see the grafting behind the scenes or can't explain something, they always say it's something negative. It can't be that God blessed you, it's 'the devil helped you’”, Konan added.

Konan, who flashes his trademark gold tooth with every sentence, knows all too well about grafting in spite of negativity.

In 2011, his stepfather was shot and killed by masked gunmen in the family's Croydon home. Among mourning the death of someone so close to him, the talented wordsmith was forced to deal with claims that he had been the intended target in the attack, which also left his mother injured.

“There was no one I could talk to about the situation,” he says. “No one could really understand what I was thinking or going through.”

He said that the pair's sombre track, My Story, helped him come to terms with his loss and all that came with it.

“It was 100 per cent therapeutic,” he says. “Putting it in a song helped me get it off my chest. [The case] was in court at the time and it was coming to an end. I felt like I had to do it so it was done and dusted.”

Explaining that naysayers often don't see or understand what goes on behind the scenes before jumping to outrageous conclusions - and lifting the mood in the process - Krept continued: “Someone tweeted us yesterday and said 'Only the Illuminati succeed’. I've never seen the Illuminati personally and I don't think they have either. They know what the Illuminati is about to be calling someone it. But it doesn't faze us, I couldn't care less, as long as you're talking about me.”

And why should Krept and Konan waste time on the hate of a small minority when they have worked hard to become one of the UK’s most promising rap groups?

With a career that is going from strength to strength, and a Jay Z cover that even sparked the attention of the main man himself, the guys remain humble and content knowing their fans are happy with the music.

“We wanted to get a top 40 [with Young Kingz]. We thought, 'we’ve got a lot of fans, so hopefully we can get a top 40.' We didn't think we'd get up to where we are now,” says Krept.

Konan added: “It's a great thing knowing that people have actually gone and bought the music that we wanted to make. We weren't thinking about making a song for raving or for TV, we made music we wanted to. The fact our fans are supporting it so much is crazy.”

Although the pair have been nominated for a 'best newcomer' MOBO, many music connoisseurs will know Krept and Konan are no strangers to the game.

And the Devil’s Playground hitmakers don't see themselves that way either, although they admit they have a lot more to achieve in the mainstream.

“I don't think we're newcomers,” Konan says. “I feel like we've been in the underground for a minute, but to the mainstream or the public chart, we are still newcomers, we’re kind of in the middle.”

Reflecting on their recent fortune, they say being nominated for a MOBO award was something they always wanted.
“We watched the MOBOs every year and every year we would say 'next year we're gonna be on that,' and now this year, we're here,” Konan says.

“It's still surreal,” Krept added. “I'm not gonna believe it until we're there. If they call our name, that's when it's gonna be show time.”

Young Kingz is out now. For more information, visit www.iplaydirty.co.uk or follow @kreptplaydirty and @konanplaydirty on Twitter

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