That IS Kray!

If you’ve been browsing on the twittershere or listening to the radio over the past few months the word, “Kray” will not be new to you. The popular urban slang useage of the word, “Kray Kray”, has been circulating the web for months. Its popularity can be attributed to Jay Z and Kanye West. The rap moguls’ collaboration on the hit song “In Paris” saw the introduction of the phrase word “Kray”. Variations of the phrase have popped up online…even in meme form including President Obama, Tommy Pickles and Regina George!

Jay Z and Kanye West, Kray!

Twenty first century slang has seen the word become a substitute for the word “crazy”. In actuality the phrase refers to brothers, Ronald “Ronnie” and Reginald “Reggie” Kray. The English twin brothers were notorious gangsters and crime lords in London’s East End during the 50’s and 60’s. Think Grant and Phil Mitchell only much worse.

Kray Twins Ronnie and Reggie

The phrase “Kray” relates to all the outrageous deeds the two brothers committed during their time as London’s biggest crime lords.  Their success in amateur boxing was short lived. The siblings turned their hands to organised crime included the likes of armed robberies, arson, assault, high jacking and murder. It is widely reported that Ronnie suffered from Schizophrenia.

Ronnie and Reggie with their mother Violet Kray

Ronnie and Reggie with their mother Violet Kray

During the 60’s the brothers opened various nightclubs in London raising their social status. Celebrities like Judy Garland and Barbara Windsor were photographed with the brothers as well as famous politicians and MP’s.  It’s safe to say that the Kray’s would have been delighted with the newfound fame of their family name 50 years on.


The Kray twins with Judy Garland

The Kray twins with Barbara Windsor

The Kray twins with Barbara Windsor

The twins ran a body guard service which gained them numerous high profile clients from the business and showbiz world, including Frank Sinatra. Witnesses to their dirty deeds were petrified to testify against the brothers as they reigned over London with their gang “The Firm”. However, things quickly turned south for the Kray brothers when they were imprisoned for life for the murder of two rival gangsters, George Cornell and Jack “The Hat” McVitie.

The Kray Twins

Eventually, witnesses and gang members gave evidence against the twins in court. The celebrity status and attention surrounding the twins lead to a refusal of parole. It has been argued by the brothers themselves that if it had not been for the Kray name, they would have severed a shorter sentence.

Ronnie and Reggie Kray's mugshots when they were arrested for murder

Ronnie and Reggie Kray’s mugshots when they were arrested for murder

What became of London’s biggest mobsters?

Ronnie died in March 1975 from a heart attack aged 61 in a mental hospital while Reggie who was battling cancer, died in his sleep in October 2000 in his home after being released from prison on compassionate grounds.

So, when people say “That’s so kray…You’re kray”, be sure to remember the “Kra-z-y” antics of the Kray siblings!