The Lone Warrior: Vulkan 'Krusades' for Hip Hop

Rapper Vulkan the Krusader has assembled a new album entitled V which he says is inspired by his fascination with films like The Dark Knight, comic books like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as well as the nineteenth century French painting Romans in the Decadence of the Empire. He shows a softer and more intimate side of himself in a song constructed as a love letter dedicated to the experimental pop artist Grimes. Since he began rapping in 2010, he has worked with such notable people like A$AP Ferg, Mr. MFN eXquire, Kool A.D. (of Das Racist), Aaron Cohen, Kyle Rapps, and Spaceman. During my talk with Vulkan, he spoke about his thoughts on religion, films, medieval history, and heavy metal. The creative process for him is a lonely one, just like it is for most. My conversations with him left me thinking that the silent moments in our lives are sometimes the noisiest.

Vulkan took a pause from the distraction of his life, six months to be exact, in order to work on his music. Leaving the negativity of Bushwick, Brooklyn behind him, he settled in Palm Beach, Florida. It was in the mist of blue skies and sandy beaches, where he describes isolation that was both grueling and divine. Kind of gnostic in his understanding of the divine realm, the Krusader, "...believe[s] God is there in [his] music somewhere" and, as one of His messengers, he is compelled to release the secret gnosis. Lyrics such as "I wake up praising the Most High/Even though, at times, I wake up feeling like the Most High" render him as a conduit of all-knowing truth. Yet, the evil world of matter is not excluded from his music.

From the dark side: it's science fiction and horror movies that mostly get Vulkan's attention. He has seen many movies influenced by the foe of God like A Clockwork Orange and Evil Dead, and he is not afraid to admit that the Joker sometimes makes sense. In fact, a scene directly out of the film The Dark Knight, serves as an introduction to his song "The Return of the Joker". Likewise, his interest in comic book characters are mentioned at times in his songs, believing that even his name, Vulkan the Krusader, reflects the lone warrior in him. Vulkan says, "Comic books have always given my mind the freedom to expand my imagination. They're the basic foundation of ideas that inspire people into doing the impossible."

Not surprisingly, the Krusader is also attracted to the regal vibes of mythological characters and plots like the Knights of the Round Table and the debauchery found in such paintings as Romans in the Decadence of the Empire. Yet, it's not always fictional characters that get the creative juices flowing, bands like Skid Row, Judas Priest, Slayer, and in his words, "All the heavy metal stuff parents try to keep their kids away from" are assimilated into the Krusader's music, as well. But don't be taken aback to hear some departure from the dark to statements about democracy for he interrupts his song "Open Doors" with a clip from Charlie Chaplin's final speech in The Great Dictator.

One can say his music is gritty. All the elements of the rap culture appear in his music: the competitive machismo, the need to break away from backstabbers, the heated sexual desires, the excess of drugs and alcohol. But, what pops out mostly from the song arrangements is the way he incorporates film scores that are seamed interestingly into his compositions. The gem, though, is the love song "Letter to Claire". Albeit, the album is long, and the influences of fiction and mythology is woven into the persona of the rapper. But the highs and lows of the beats set off a dramatic force that unites the album and may very well be the soul of V.

"Move Slow" off Vulkan the Krusader's 2011 The Lucy Naive Mixtape.

Vulkan the Krusader's V album can be heard and downloaded on Bandcamp.