Interview with Vulkan The Krusader | By Morgan Y. Evans
Grimes loving, Space/Time Continuum altering MC with Miami, L.A. and NY background drops the most romantic letter to hip hop and Robotech this or any year. With just a mysterious V on the artwork, Vulkan has begun the journey to the center of hip hop’s heart of darkness, light, joy, sorrow.
“I dated mad goth bitches. I’m like a seasoned sword swinger
who decided to rhyme” – Vulkan
Entire album’s lyrics on Rap Genius here.
The singles released building up to VX-13: Do You Remember Love? had a positive reaction. Did it feel good that people were hyped or do you not pay attention either way and just keep rhyming?
Well, I’m a very small act right now, but I felt like more people are up on it, but not at the level I want it to be. The thing was that whoever heard it, told [me] it was amazing; not just okay, not just good, but like something really amazing they can listen to. I pay attention to anyone who listens to me; that to me is just a honor in itself, for someone to take the time to listen to a new artist and just be surprised and taken with emotion on a new song or record.
“Never Coming Back” is one of the best rap songs I’ve heard in like 5 years. It really could be an anthem if enough people heard it. The tune really captures a feeling of moving forward and felt like evolving and being strong through whatever we face. Did you know in particular that that beat was fuego and have a good feeling when the song came to a conclusion? It blew me and many friends I played it for away.
It’s my favorite song on the record, and it is an anthem. It’s really fun word twisting and has a good message. When I made it I did a bunch of takes, and I felt even the non-perfect takes were good. What you heard is one whole take with a couple errors even in it, but I like it. The message is simple; I been through some things, but I have arrived now and I can rap and make it fun. The record to me is a romp and I’m going to be making the first video off this album for it, Lexi Banks sent me that , and I know it could be really big if I execute the visual properly and really bring the message to the forefront.
Beasties did an interview in Relix Magazine in 2008 around the time of their instrumental album The Mix Up, which wasn’t that commercially bug but was pretty dope. I was just reading it and thought about how Beasties approached music and rap as no different. They would switch from live instruments to rhymes to beats to whatever. It seems like you approach beats and rhymes in a similar way. No one knows what you will pull out next, as far as what kind of beats will show up. It makes it like chapters and very cinematic when hearing the whole record. One minute you’re in Gotham and the next on some beach in outer space or on some soulful shit like the “Medieval Rap” beat (which then flips into some real chill shit at the end). There seems to be no limits. Love it.
There is no boundary in my music, there is no rules. I was raised in LA, Miami and NY my whole life. These cities all have their cultures and I just put all my influences into this gumbo. I am a collage of all these influences, from Def Jux, El-P, Biggie, Pun, MA$E, Depeche Mode, 3-6 Mafia, Swisha House, Wu-Tang Clan, Talking Heads, Duran Duran, I mean it’s all in there. I’m not scared to sing and rap and produce my own record; I am my own engineer as well. A lot of people are scared to be called something, or soft, or any of that ignorant bullshit that’s in hip hop. My music is for 15 year olds who want something new and it’s for people outside of hip hop to be like, “Wow there really is good hip hop, and I really like this shit for some reason.”
There’s a lot of different musical approaches to this album. You pull off a lot of styles and moods pretty seamlessly. Is there a particular mood you like delivering the most? Spacey? Philosophical? Menacing? Romantic?
Each man has different sides to himself in his mind, I am Killer in one part, I am a lover in another, I am a King in my kingdom in the other realm. All in all I’m all about “world building.” I wanna give you the feel of different parts of my kingdom. My mind is my kingdom; I call it the Fourth Realm, just like in that movie Beautiful Creatures. Religion is art and I am the maker of it. King Vizzer, ruler of the Fourth Realm, you know. I don’t have a preference, but I pride myself in taking chances and doing things no other hip hop artist has done before. People may call it weird, but its just another word for “original.” How many people you know can pull off a harmony and outran you and make a dope ass beat? Not many, me being Spanish is something new as well. When you think of Spanish emcee’s, there really isn’t any that are commercially viable.
Robotech changed a certain generation forever. What are your fond memories of it?
Well, when I was a child it introduced me to anime/manga. It had very adult themes on that show, with the ’80s mixing drama and the love triangle. I felt like I was Rick Hunter in that series, the young pilot, his teacher dies in that series as well. That Skull leader patch is always on my records as I consider myself the “skull leader,” the best fighter in the galaxy. Its themes always are central to me right now. That’s why my next two projects are part of this project, they will be called the “Master Years” series. I’m 32 years old, so I feel like I’m in my prime. The other 4 projects I have put out have been training sessions towards this moment. I just hope the right mediums get a chance to hear me out, because there really is nothing quite like it. I mean anime to me is what Wu-Tang is to old Kung Fu flicks.
Young kids these days seem to have ADD from technology. At the same time collage of styles and flavors can be a good thing. I heard that Daft Punk/Jay Z track that just surfaced and it had a post modern feel, very mashed-up. And that is trippy shit to be mainstream. Is it hard to shock these days and is any style “pure” anymore?
I feel like this record is the most progressive hip hop record in years, I feel like this record needs to have a Grammy nod, in my heart of hearts that’s how important it could be if the right mediums find it and actually listen to the thing. My vision for the videos are insane but I can’t really bring it across without a bigger budget. I sample a lot and bring to life the ’80s, the ’90s and make them sound like they were made in 2054; that’s the process musically. But like I said, before you can really look for something like this online – go ahead, I dare you; just click on every hip hop album. Click on every single album from Schoolboy Q to “Mr. shitty graphics selling my mixtape on the street guy” and you won’t find anything like this.
“Black Diamonds” stood out as pretty heavy vibe-wise. A lot of the songs are really impressive. The title track was ballsy with U2. It works so well and really compliments. What are some of the beats, stories told or collaborations you are particularly happy with? Or are you never satisfied?
With my other albums I had my hates and my dislikes to be honest, with this one is was just one beautiful story aligned with great production, and each song came across the way I wanted. I think the only problem I had was the mix of “Kiss of Death.” Other than that, it’s quite a charming and experience when you listen to all 13 songs all the way. “Black Diamonds” is just a club track I made, about when I used to go out a lot in NY, that’s a night basically told. I didn’t wanna rap to crazy on it, just laid back and let it groove into your head til you nod to it in unison. “Do You Remember Love” was written out before, but I added some things when a friend of mine passed away, and also an ode to people who showed you love when your down. In the end. we are not perfect at all. I’m not a perfect man; I’m a flawed man. But I try to be better everyday. Bushido Code is now how I live my life.
What are some places you would like to perform? You have traveled a lot in your lifetime, correct? is there any particular place you feel could benefit from hearing your music to open some minds? Or just hit ’em with some nasty gangster shit like “Winter Is Coming?”
I mean I wanna perform everywhere, I pretty much have it all right? I can rap southern shit, I can sing, I can out rap if I wanted to, I can make something catchy, I am very versatile and that’s my whole technique. The true greats that can cross those lines of mainstream and underground and radio can do this, I emulate them – Sean Price, Jay-Z, GZA, Biggie, Pun, Redman, Nas – I mean, if you can do everything, why not. Everywhere is my market. I only need 1,000,000 people to love me, the rest can hate my music for all I care.
What were some classic records that inspired you? I have been going back to Big L lately.
Well, let’s see. For this record it was three albums that really were on heavy rotation and they were:
Depeche Mode – Violator
Gza/Genius – Liquid Swords
Kanye West – Graduation
Might of been a lot of influence from those records that made the sound for this record. An updated template to the old sounds of the future. As you know though, the past will always make its mark on the future. Most of these records were sampled. I love sampling, especially the ’80s; mostly tracks that nobody cared to sample but still had melodies in them that are infectious. Like “Kiss of Death” is the intro to Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry,” and that’s it. So groovy. The intro is a group called Ultravox and it’s a track called “Vienna,” made in 1980 I think. Before I was even born, but I know these tracks cuz my father and mother played them in my childhood. My memory remembers them all, and I love those records. So, I ask your viewership, Do you Remember Love?
Decadence and class shall prevail.