The rapper starts manufacturing baby care products
Krept, one half of rap duo Krept & Konan, talks mixing music and entrepreneurship, for our CEO Secrets business advice series.
Rap star Krept considers himself as much a local entrepreneur as a musician.
His songs, like Waste My Time, G-Love and Freak of the Week, have been listened to millions of times. He enjoyed top 10 albums and singles, performed to massive crowds at festivals around the world, and hosted the TV show The Rap Game.
But setting up his own restaurant and seeing it prosper where he grew up gives him equal satisfaction.
Crepes & Cones opened in Croydon in 2018. It is decorated with pictures of Krept & Konan and their musical idols.
Krept – real name Casyo Johnson – has to be careful when he chooses to dine there. If he goes when it’s busy, fans will spot him and harass him for selfies and he’ll barely get a chance to put a fork in his mouth.
“It’s very important to me,” he explains, sitting at one of his tables. “When I was growing up, I couldn’t even imagine a place like this. I want it to be an inspiration, a message, for people here to know that’s what can happen if you work hard.”
Krept & Konan grew up on council estates in Gipsy Hill and Thornton Heath in South London, where they both got caught up in gang violence. Krept has lost friends who died in gang feuds. Others went to jail.
“We always wanted to do something bigger than music,” says Krept. “Not everyone can make music, but there are so many opportunities out there, if you have an entrepreneurial spirit. I mean, we’re not professional restaurateurs, but I always had an entrepreneurial spirit.
“Even in school, at 14, I was buying drinks, sweets and crisps in supermarkets and reselling them to students.”
These skills have proven useful.
“The music industry itself is a hustle and bustle,” Krept says softly. “You have to network with people, make songs with people. There’s a lot of things I could bring from the music world to the business world and our success there made us want to try other things. things.”
Since their breakthrough album The Long Way Home in 2015, Krept & Konan have embarked on high-profile collaborations as their stock grew in the hip hop world.
In recent decades, rock and punk musicians have generally portrayed themselves as rebels against the stuffy, conventional business world. But hip hop artists have embraced the mantle of the entrepreneur with pride.
Last year Rihanna became a billionaire and that’s thanks to profits from its Fenty Beauty cosmetics line, not its music catalog of smash hits.
Rapper Jay-Z was already a member of this exclusive club also, having built an empire based on music, property, fashion and investments. Kanye West owns a burger chain and made his fortune from a fashion business.
There may be a practical reason for this, Krept explains. Many contracts in the music industry don’t favor the artist, which means that even those who enjoy huge hits may not be making as much money as you think.
That applies to his own case, he says, and it’s one of the reasons he’s had to be entrepreneurial, with everything from concert ticket sales to promotional offers for fashion and podcasts. It helped that he studied accounting in college.
Her latest business venture is actually a baby care line, called Nala’s Baby. It happened after he became a father two years ago.
Her co-parent and now business partner Sasha Ellese Gilbert wanted to find a cream with as few impurities as possible, so they developed one and named it after their daughter.
Nala’s Baby is marketed as suitable for babies with eczema or sensitive skin, while being vegan, cruelty-free and dermatologically approved.
The product is now stocked in Boots stores across the country and is expanding its reach.
The worlds of rap and baby products may seem far apart, but Krept sees no problem in bridging that gap.
“It’s my reality. I have a child and I’m a rapper. Just because I rap doesn’t change being a father,” he says.
“Anyone who has a child, we go through the same journey of caring and loving a child. We bathe it, feed it, go through the terrible twos. I could be a rapper, that person could be an engineer, or a doctor, or a teacher. It’s as authentic to me as it is to them.”
But is that a branding issue, when so much of rapping and business is about presentation?
The rapper’s world, as played out in countless music videos — including his own — is often one of violence, run-ins with the law, and the portrayal of women as disposable objects of desire.
It’s very different from the world typically depicted when advertising baby products, which is one of soft colors, domestic family happiness, and doting parents.
“Music is entertainment, it can be like being in a movie or acting,” Krept says, after thinking about the matter. “But that’s how we grew up: friends who die, end up in prison, join gangs.
“Those are the cards that were given to us. I have friends who are still involved in this today, we can’t help our education.”
Krept says his music simply portrays his reality growing up – including lyrics about women – and it’s coming from this authentic place in his music that he created new opportunities for himself – so he could be defined by something else.
He cites Jay-Z as an inspiration, going from a life of crime in New York projects to becoming “one of the greatest rappers and entrepreneurs of his generation”.
“Because this is how we grew up,” Krept asks, “does that mean we can’t do great things and grow as people?”
In 2020, Krept & Konan were awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honors List, for their contribution to the Croydon community. He acknowledged their creation of the Positive Direction Foundation, which creates opportunities for young people through music education.
“If you could recoup all the time you wasted procrastinating, imagine what you could do? Krept said, spontaneously.
“It’s one thing about me, I’ve always been good at time management so I can do multiple things, I plan my days.
“I think I will end up with several companies, but I will never let anything dilute my music. I dedicate my nights to music.”
You can follow CEO Secrets reporter Dougal Shaw on Twitter: @dougalshawbbc