Mass Appeal checks in with KONCEPT & J57 on their history and their new EP, The Fuel, as the NYC duo rides its passionate DIY ethos straight to mainstream success

Koncept and J57 the fuel Soulspazm Fat Beats Records Brown Bag Allstars

The tale of New York rapper Keith “Koncept” Whitehead and his partner in crime, producer Jimmy “J57” Heinz, dates back to September 2006. Koncept had just returned home to New York after attending college in Vermont and decided to stop into his favorite record store, Fat Beats. When he walked in, J57 was playing his own beats, and some cats were rapping over them. “So I asked if I could jump in the cypher, as the rap guys say,” Koncept tells me. “So I jumped in, and kicked these raps, and then me and J started talking and building, and we exchanged info.” Soon after, the two artists got into the studio and started recording together.

At the time, J57 was working at Fat Beats, and got Koncept a job there, which both describe as a “dream come true.” It was there that they met DeeJay Element, DJ E-Holla, Soul Khan, and The Audible Doctor, and formed The Brown Bag AllStars, bonding over a love and appreciation of New York hip hop. “We’d play all the classic hip hop artists you’d listen to growing up in New York,” J explains. “Like Wu-Tang, Jay Z, Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, Busta. But at the same time, we were also playing UGK and T.I., which I’d get yelled at for,” J laughs. “It wasn’t cool to do that in New York back then.” Over time, they expanded their horizons and started playing a more diverse mix of music, which included artists like Björk and Radiohead. READ MORE…

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