Over a decade ago San Jose/Santa Cruz rapper Kung Fu Vampire started fusing straightforward hip-hop with a live band and dark theatrical elements of vampires and kung fu. It took several years, but when the Insane Clown Posse’s fanbase (known as juggalos), heard him, they embraced him full on.
Since then he’s toured the U.S. 13 times, with some Midwest markets drawing bigger crowds than right here in the Bay.
“I’m heavily connected to a super niche market. The good thing about that is that I have loyal fans that are super supportive, with my face tattooed on them. At the same time, it hurts me that other people who might enjoy my music might be turned off because they have the wrong idea,” Kung Fu Vampire says. “It’s not some freaky-deaky thing. It’s not metal. It’s not a rock kind of thing. It’s straight-up hip-hop. It’s just a cool name and a cool image.”
When he started, he was unaware of juggalos, and always played to hip-hop audiences, some of which felt his theatrics were a bit over the top. Now that he’s got an audience, he’s trying to expand it and show the hip-hop crowd that he is, more than anything, a rapper with skills. He’s performed on four TeamBackPack cyphers—which are well-respected in rap circles—and he even did a co-headlining tour with Wrekonize (of ¡Mayday!), who was featured on a Tech N9ne song alongside Kendrick Lamar.
“I grew up in Latin culture and low-riding, going to classic hip-hop and live rock shows. I have so much love and respect for the juggalo kids, but it doesn’t make sense for that to be my only fan base.”
Kung Fu Vampire has a new album expected out this year, along with a new video dropping this month that he promises will be “movie quality with an American Horror Story, paranormal kind of theme to it.”
INFO: 9 p.m. Thursday, May 14. Catalyst Atrium, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $22/adv, $25/door. 429-4135.