Krept: Rapper branches out into making baby skincare products




Krept, one half of the rap duo Krept & Konan, speaks to CEO Secrets about combining music and entrepreneurship. Krept, a rap artist, sees himself as a local entrepreneur as well as a musician.

His songs have been streamed millions of times, including Waste My Time, G-Love, and Freak of the Week. He’s had top ten albums and singles, performed in front of large crowds at festivals around the world, and hosted The Rap Game TV show. But opening his own restaurant and seeing it thrive in his hometown gives him the same satisfaction.

Crepes & Cones first opened its doors in Croydon in 2018. It’s adorned with images of Krept and Konan as well as their musical idols. Krept, real name Casyo Johnson, must exercise caution when dining there. If he goes when it’s busy, fans will recognize him and mob him for selfies, and he won’t have time to put a fork to his mouth.

“It’s a big deal to me,” he says as he sits at one of his tables. “I could never have imagined a place like this when I was growing up.” I want it to be an inspiration, a message so that people around here know what is possible if you work hard. Krept and Konan grew up on council estates in south London’s Gipsy Hill and Thornton Heath, where they were both involved in gang violence. Krept has lost friends as a result of gang wars. Others have been imprisoned.

“We’ve always wanted to do something bigger than just music,” Krept says. “Not everyone can do music, but if you have a business mind, there are so many opportunities out there.” We’re not professional restaurateurs, after all, but I’ve always had a business mindset.” Even when I was 14, I used to go to supermarkets and buy drinks, sweets, and chips to sell to the students.” Those skills came in handy.

“The music industry itself is a hustle,” Krept explains softly. “You have to network with people in order to collaborate on songs.” There’s a lot I could take from the music world and apply it to business, and our success there has given us the desire to try new things.”

Krept & Konan have embarked on high-profile collaborations since the release of their breakthrough album The Long Way Home in 2015.

Rock and punk musicians have traditionally portrayed themselves as rebels against the stuffy, conventional world of business. However, hip hop artists have proudly assumed the role of entrepreneur. Rihanna became a billionaire last year, thanks to profits from her cosmetics line Fenty Beauty, rather than her musical catalog of smash hits.

Rapper Jay-Z was already a member of that exclusive club, having built a fortune through music, real estate, fashion, and investments. Kanye West owns a burger restaurant and has amassed a fortune through fashion deals. According to Krept, there could be a practical reason for this. Many contracts in the music industry are unfavorable to the artist, which means that even those who have big hits may not be making as much money as you think.

This applies to his own situation, he says, and it’s one of the reasons he’s had to be self-sufficient, with everything from concert ticket sales to fashion endorsement deals and podcasts. It helped that he majored in accounting at university. His most recent venture is a skincare line for babies called Nala’s Baby. It happened two years ago after he became a father.

Sasha Ellesse Gilbert, his co-parent and now business partner, wanted to find a cream with as few impurities as possible, so they created one and named it after their daughter. Nala’s Baby is marketed as being suitable for babies with eczema or sensitive skin, as well as being vegan, cruelty-free to animals, and dermatologically approved. The product is now available in Boots stores across the country and is growing in popularity.

The world of the rapper, as played out in endless music videos – including his own – is often one of violence, confrontations with the law, and the portrayal of women as disposable objects of desire. This is very different from the world typically portrayed when advertising baby products, which is one of soft colors, domestic family bliss, and doting parents.

“Music is entertainment, it can be like being in a film or acting,” says Krept, after considering the question. “But this is how we grew up: friends dying, ending up in jail, being involved in gangs. “Those are the cards we were dealt. I have friends still involved in that today, we can’t help our upbringing.”

Krept says his music simply portrays his reality growing up – including the lyrics about women – and it’s by coming from that authentic place in his music that he has created new opportunities for himself – so that he can be defined by something different He cites Jay-Z as an inspiration, describing him as “one of the greatest rappers and entrepreneurs of his generation” after rising from a life of crime in the New York projects.

“Does it mean we can’t do great things and grow as people because this is how we grew up?” Krept wonders.

Krept and Konan were awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2020 for their contributions to the Croydon community. It acknowledged its establishment of the Positive Direction Foundation, which provides opportunities for young people through music education. “Imagine what you could do if you could get back all the time you wasted procrastinating,” Krept says unprompted.

“One thing about me is that I’ve always been good at time management, so I can do a lot of things and plan my days.”

I believe I will have several businesses, but I will never let anything dilute my music. “I devote my nights to music.”