Kung Fu Vampire fans have come to expect the unexpected. He has built a cult following for his theatrical shows, which have included an eight-piece live rap band with drums, cellos, violins and back-up singers. Then, of course, there’s Kung Fu Vampire himself—a bald, pale-white vampire with fangs, goatee, white contact lenses and a lavish emperor’s kimono draped over his body—spitting verses about life, love, sex and death better than many traditional rappers.
Fans may be shocked, however, by what Kung Fu Vampire is up to now, as his current 48-city tour finishes with a flourish at the Blank Club on Dec. 8. This time around, KFV is playing just hard-hitting, no-frills hip-hop—no makeup, no kimono, and only bass player Jeremy Pollett and drummer Chris Paston to back him up.
“Some of these shows, I’ll just straight rock in a fedora and a T-shirt—and people love it,” Kung Fu Vampire says. “They’ve all seen that other guy. They’ve seen that other image. I want people to be blown away by the music.”
Despite doing something so different, Kung Fu Vampire has earned a lot of praise from his fellow San Jose rappers.
“I have a lot of respect for Kung Fu Vampire because as long as I’ve been making and performing music in the South Bay, he has been a driving force, always pushing and creating his vision where others would have given up or changed styles to fit the newest trend,” says Benny Medik from local hip-hop group Language Arts Crew.
It’s been 12 years since he first emerged as Kung Fu Vampire. During that time he has worked around the clock, booking tours, promoting himself, writing music and pressing on even when it didn’t seem like he was getting anywhere. Those who have worked with him know that he is an ambitious, determined performer.
Kung Fu Vampire really started to see an increase in fans over the past three years after he went full throttle with a near constant touring schedule, scoring opening slots for acts like Insane Clown Posse, Twiztid and Tech N9ne. While these groups have come to love and embrace him, he hasn’t signed to any of their well-established labels. Instead he continues to release music on his own label, Mad Insanity Records, which he shares with horrorcore rapper Mars.