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Cover Story: Local Rapper Kung Fu Vampire Sheds Costume to Focus on Music

In Music

“To always write as the Kung Fu Vampire would come off a little one-sided,” he admits. “It’s more the dark-sided subculture with a lot of light. The yin and yang of everything. It can be the dark truths of reality. It can be a lot of things. When I get to be Kung Fu Vampire on stage for 45 minutes, it gives me a higher percentage of energy.”

He started to shed some of his theatrical image in 2011, a decision that evolved after he decided to let his hair out because he was tired of being bald. Once he had hair again, he didn’t like how painting his face looked—too much like a scary clown—so he stopped adding extreme makeup.

His overall approach had to change, too, because he was touring so much. It wasn’t feasible to take an eight-piece band on the road. He needed to simplify his act, hone his raw live energy and concentrate on making the best rap music he could.

He hasn’t completely abandoned the showmanship and costumes. Recently, when he was asked to make a guest appearance in the E-40 music video “Zombie,” he made sure that he looked creepy. He is also scheduled to make an appearance on the reality show SF Oddities. The producers made it clear that they want Kung Fu Vampire on the show—and he’s OK with that.

“For the next generation of Kung Fu Vampire, I may come out with a mask,” he tells me. “I may come out painted red with all-black contacts. I don’t know. I want it to stay fun. It’s like a darker hip-hop version of Madonna, if you want to be silly about it. She’s been the master of re-creating herself. I did the one style for a long time. It was me. It was Kung Fu Vampire.”

It was Kung Fu Vampire’s unique persona that got him where he is today. He attributes his surge in popularity these past few years to one random fan he has never even met. In November 2009, this fan changed his career forever by posting Kung Fu Vampire’s video for “iCount” on faygoluvers.net, the biggest Juggalo-related news site on the web.

Juggalos—fans of horrorcore rappers Insane Clown Posse and other bands on Psychopathic Records like Twiztid, Anybody Killa and Blaze Ya Dead Homie—quickly embraced Kung Fu Vampire when they saw this video.

The members of Twiztid saw “iCount” first. They loved it—which figures, because the rap duo paints their faces like clowns.

The video features Kung Fu Vampire in his full Asian vampire persona. The look of the video is ominous; the music is old-school, minor-key gangsta rap; the backup band is an odd combination of big, scary masked men and dazed, drugged-up women. In short, it was a spectacle unlike anything Twiztid had seen before. The end result was an opening slot for Kung Fu Vampire on the band’s next tour.

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