Photo courtesy of Kontagious

When Kontagious Was Shaken, Not Stirred

Koray Fuat, formerly of UK band Kontagious, recounts how the band's briefly ubiquitous single "Shake It Up" shook things up in London's hip-hop underground for a short while.

“These were some of the best days of my life”, says Londoner Koray Fuat. “We had three music videos played on TV. We supported Montell Jordan, Lil Bow Wow and performed on the same stage as Kelle Le Roc and Roll Deep. These were interesting times.” Fuat refers to his days as a rapper in one of London’s few, if not only, Turkish-Brit hip-hop crews, Kontagious. The band’s one and only album The Epidemic failed to pave the way for further success, but it did make an admirable notch in the underground hip-hop/garage scene that had championed everyone from the Streets to Kano at the time.

Filled with just about every British urban influence under the sun (including grime, hip-hop, dancehall, R&B and garage), The Epidemic offered up an attractively rough-hewn put-together DIY package that presented each member’s talents with disarming magnetism. “We wanted to make an album that had the influences of the South London streets, elements of UK garage and good hip-hop delivered messages,” Fuat explains. “These were the main musical influences for us when growing up and it led to an honest approach to our music and our overall sound. That combined with some catchy hooks and up-tempo melodies; we were happy with the overall sound. The deep low end would come from our garage music influences, I would say. However this element was not intentional. It’s just ended up sounding this way and we were happy with the result.”

Along with his cousin Lev G and two of their friends, Arkz and K-Rhyme, Fuat rapped. He also provided much of the R&B quotient — you can hear him sweeten the grit over the course of 15 tracks which make up the album. Fuat’s sanguine-honeyed vocals often tempered the more volatile attributes of the band’s sound; as a rapper, he countered with an explosive and caustic turn.

The album bore one notable fruit in “Shake it Up”, which managed to push beyond the borders of the underground, if only for a brief moment. Full-bodied and percussively heavy (with Fuat providing the chorus hook), the single gained some favour among London’s club crowd before seeping onto commercial radio airwaves. “This track reminds me of 2005 which was the year we filmed the video,” Fuat recalls. “It was so much fun and a great time. [It] was also getting regular air play at that time on Kiss FM and Choice FM, which are two of London’s biggest radio stations. I would not change a thing. It’s a shame that it never materialized into huge success. However, I am very proud of all that we achieved.”

Nowadays, years after band’s demise, the singer has put much of his musical ambitions on hold, with much of his time spent on other pursuits. If the London club scene isn’t what it used to be, Fuat can rest assured; the budding prospects of a few other (non-musical) projects lie just on the horizon. Redirecting his prankster’s youth into the more adult world of television, he’ll likely find new ways of shaking it up, so to speak. “Personally, I have moved my current writing focus towards writing comedy,” he says. “A partner and I have been working on a couple of TV sitcom scripts which have gained some traction from various TV production companies here in London, so we are following up on this. Fingers crossed that they get commissioned!”