I conducted this in-depth interview with New York artist Vulkan the Krusader. Vulkan is one of my favourite rappers right now; his progressive production, emotionally honest lyrical content, and mature sound make him one of NYC’s best prospects. It’s obvious from his answers that he is cut from a different cloth then many modern day emcees. We covered quite a few topics, including Vulkan’s childhood influences, vendettas, and upcoming musical projects.
How did you choose “Vulkan the Krusader” as your stage name? Did you go through any other names before deciding on Vulkan the Krusader?
Naw, I got the name when I was 15 in High School, it really has nothing to do with music actually, basically Vulkan was spaced out like I was in High school but it was mostly cuz I had a short fuse and in Vulkan means Volcano in Spanish. The Krusader part is basically from a friend who was a graph writer who said I spoke like some sort of Crusader when I talked. The big ears and Mr. Spock reference is always there though, which is why it got me heated as a kid.
What sort of music did you grow up with before getting into hip-hop?
I grew up as child in the 80′s and teen in the 90′s and a grown man in this new millennium. My father played 80′s music all the time when I grew up, my mother played a lot of Spanish ballads. My father use to break dance and the first hip-hop song I remember listening to was “Planet Rock”. My father called it Disco Music. I love all 80′s era, House music, new wave stuff. That’s the shit that really hits my upbringing.
Do you come from a musically conscious family?
My Father is the least musically inclined person, but he loves music just as do I. My mom wasn’t that into music either, but she was as good a dancer as my father. Music is in my blood though; my grandfather is a flamenco guitarist who has written over 10,000 songs for my grandma (laughs). He is really something to watch on that guitar. My dad’s family is rich with musical performers; my uncle Carlos and uncle Chico had a band that kind of was like “Los Angeles Negros” of Nicaragua. My Uncles played lead guitar and drums. My dad was the only one who didn’t play anything, he was more into cars and mechanics but was always around them when they played and got play, feel me.
What artists inspired you to start rapping?
Honestly it was A Tribe Called Quest. It started with them; as a child listening to them I thought, “I can do this”. As a kid I was a great performer and poet. I used to do this stupid stand up routine for my book reports in front of the class. I was never stage shy or any of that. I would always try to be the lead in a play or be the leader of the pack when it came to organizing drama. Even of the basketball court I was trying to take the lead. So when it came to rapping I was also a center of attention in my high school, as I had amazing rapid fire flow and everyone wanted to battle me when wasn’t playing basketball or doing hood rat shit with my friends.
When did you first start rapping?
High School, I was known as that dude in rapping back then, The Miami rap scene was really small. I an Eminem’ish flow back then (laughs), but see, I was living that life back then as well. Very chaotic times for me as a teenager. I was part of the cool kids, but at the same time I didn’t want to be a cool kid. High School was the battle days, I could not write a song to save my soul though, I kinda knew this about myself when I rhymed. I knew that battle rhymes really didn’t last in the industry.
Where do you draw inspiration for you music?
Life man, the ever changing prospect of challenges we face as men in this world. I’m coming into this late, and probably at the prime of my musical ability. I’m Danny Brown’s age (laughs) feel me? So it comes with a mature touch but at the same time I’m having fun while I make the music. My inspiration is those moments where you ask yourself, “Can I do it?”, “Can I change the world, even when the world don’t wanna change?” “Can I become successful?”, “Can my family respect the craft?” Money is never the motive but you damn sure need to get paid for your art. I’m just a small time artist trying to get his share of the pie in this world. And of course my inspiration is also the lifestyle I lead of course; I live in a very small circle of people, all trying to get on, all stepping over each other, trying to grab the same thing. The problem is, most of them don’t know see that they aren’t built for it. My inspiration is the basis, simple human emotions of fear, anger, love, despair, vanity, and lunacy.
I find it difficult to categorize your style with one label. How would you describe yourself as an artist?
I’m what you get when you mix Depeche Mode, Wu-Tang, Three 6 Mafia and fully functioning entertaining delivery.
You talk about a possible criminal past in your music; “selling cocaine in the Miami tropics”. Did you deal or is this just a lyrical device?
That’s just me telling you what Miami Lifestyle is about in a more raw form, I ain’t no dealer or nothing like that. Lets just say I was a broker and enabler in my time in Miami.
Your lyrical content is really diverse, yet you always stay true to “for fun sake”. Can you explain what the “for fun sake” philosophy means and where is came from?
That’s my affiliation in Brooklyn New York, the 4FUNSET founded by my friend Hood Chef, just a rag tag crew of nobodies who all rap pretty good. Other than it being a group of friends who rap, the ideals behind it are more true; just be yourself and have fun with what you do. In essence that’s what it means to me when I say it. I do it all, it’s an astronaut’s way of living.
Your album “V for Vendetta” features a lot of samples from the movie “V for Vendetta”. What inspired you to do this? Do you see yourself as similar to V from the movie?
You hit on something not a lot of people capture from that, I do look at myself like him. A man no one knows about, a man against a machine, that is an idea, not just flesh and bone. A man who, by himself, can take the industry by force, and believes in himself, staying true to his morals and respect code. The one who is not afraid, the one wallows in a agony at times, but also the one who brings faith and joy to the masses. In this, I find myself the hip-hop equivalent to the man they called “V”. His mask plays a vital role in what I think is going on in hip-hop. I was looking at New York City wondering, “what is this?” Only a few artist I knew had it in them, another sub group of nobodies who became the revolutionaries, like my friend Rakim (A$AP Rocky) or Worldsfair from Queens who been hustling since god knows when, Action who was a chef, or Mr. Muthafucking Esquire who was dogged for years by the industry and even more to come. Rocky kicking down the door, was the start of a revolution. I’m happy it’s here for everyone to witness. We are the dreamers of the dreams and the creators of imagination now. I don’t have a spotlight yet, but I’m sure my hard work will pay off one day. Or I’ll have to resort to terrorist tactics like V for Vendetta (laughs).
You talk about your distaste for the music industry as it is today; “Industry people are fucking shady”. Can you elaborate on this?
I know many people in the music industry who don’t’ take chances. One guy I really believe in is Nigil Mack from Univeral; he believes in progression. The Industry changes people as well, makes people paranoid. Makes people feel like everyone is fake, but in their hearts they know who’s real and who’s not. Sometimes the music that is picked up comes from artist who really ain’t gonna last for a long time. I feel like at times they don’t know what the fuck they doing. But hey, like I said, a lot of my friends finally got recognition, so the change is here, and now more and more, diverse emcee’s and hip hop acts are proving, “hey we can make money, we work hard, we wanna feed our families, Just give me the platform my nigga”. Other than that, the music is a shady grey area where money makes the heart evil at times.
The first track of V for Vendetta features a track by BSBD. Do you plan on collaborating with them in the future?
I’ve loved Blue Sky Black Death so long, I asked Kingston if he can take certain part of the noir album and loop some things so I can rap on them. I’m all about progressive, melodic, harmonious and triumphant sounding music. I will be working with them on something very soon, I might release something with some of their sounds next month.
What do you think about the current state of hip-hop, specifically the NYC scene?
The NYC scene is great right now. All my friends are getting their just dues from great art they have made and are leading the new generation into the right direction. The artistic integrity is there again, the production is better and the song writing is amazing right now. I love where its’ going, I can only hope my upcoming projects get that love and stamp of approval I need to really make an impact in peoples lives.
How important are music blogs to you personally and for hip-hop?
They are the world to me, I make music I like myself feel me? Like I listen to my shit over and over cuz I like it. So I’ve been on some pretty big blogs, here and there, but not a full on love session on release day or anything like that. I’m still very unknown and paying my dues. They are very important, from Smoking Section to Onsmash, to 2dopeboyz, to getting music out there. I’m more into Fader and Pitchfork because my sound is so diverse and I also listen to shit other than hip-hop. But those music outlets will define where you go in the world. I just need to release the material and hope it gets to the right hands, so I can put on a amazing display of hand gestures on stage when I rap.
What has been the hardest part of being a rapper?
Dealing with people on an everyday basis and dealing with failure and dealing with the dreaded gas face you get when people roll their eyes (laughs). There’s a million of them in NYC, so being new is like, a fighting battle with a giant beast. There’s alot of bullshit out there. I find it hard nowadays to reach out to my friends who are on, and get some insight from them, but its all grind bro. Real nigga shit. The hardest thing is being heard, that’s it.
What is your favorite part of being a rapper?
Creating is my favorite part, shooting visuals, making a dope song with a dope chorus, or an amazing beat. That’s my favorite part, that right there is my love for it. I love performing, I love listening to music, I love the whole creation process and what it gives me; the freedom of being myself and inspiring others, or just making you mad or feeling great about a song. Triumph is what I want. When I get that, my favorite part will be throwing hundreds into a crowd.
What has been the single greatest moment of your rap career?
I haven’t experienced it yet, to be honest, I want greatness I just need to work for it, cuz I hear greatness when I record.
Who to look out for today, locally and nationally?
Without saying the Astronauts (4FUNSET) Vinny D’Wayne, Dom O Briggs, Scienze, A$AP Nast & Ferg, Twelvy,J eff Donna, Cody B. Ware, Skotch Davis, Noah Caine, Slim Dollars, Rich- P,L.A.,OG Chess, and Beautiful Lou. Production wise, I would say BBR+, Ryan Hemsworth, DA, Kodak to Graph, and DJ Buttamilk my right hand man.
What are you currently working on?
I didn’t get to release visuals for V for Vendetta cuz my father is was sick, but now everything’s cool and I can finally get to making these visuals, might even make one for the Lucy Naive mix tape. I’m releasing a song Praise very soon where I rap over some Purity Ring and working on the third project called V that drops Valentines day, next year V-DAY.
Information on Vulkan the Krusader can be found below (click links to be redirected):