Back in 2002, Vulkan the Krusader—real name Rob Martinez—was in college making beats in his spare time on an MPC 2000. One day, during the summer when classes weren't in session, he concocted "V I Z Z E R," two minutes of dreamy, lush production. Seven years down the line, while living in Brooklyn, Vulkan re-discovered an old hard drive and in between a ton of backpack production, he found "V I Z Z E R," which he officially released three years ago as the second drop from his V for Vendetta album. And this year, he's officially featured on the production credits of A$AP Rocky's latest album, A.L.L.A., on the track "Excuse Me," which was teased during the video for "L$D." Vulkan, a Miami native who resided in Brooklyn for years before heading down to Palm Beach, Fla., started making music years ago. At 15 years old, and after growing up listening to Wu-Tang Clan, No Limit, DMX, Bad Boy, and more, he wanted to hear, and make, more cinematic music. "I wanted it to be a little noir, or in a fantasy world, and I was like, 'I don't think a young guy could do that but I don't think he's brave enough to do that and rap and sing and use '80s music or influence from other genres," he says. Vulkan, whose nickname is from kids in school making fun of his ears, was always into music, but a few years later, he started making his own—a true mix of everything and anything, not just the street rap he grew up on. Then, in 2007 after moving to New York City, he started to hang out on Manhattan's Lower East Side at Sway, where he met everyone in that early New York music scene. That's where he initially met what would later be known as the A$AP crew—Rocky, Ferg, and the late Yams—and over the years, worked with Mr. MFN eXquire, Kool A.D. (of Das Racist), Aaron Cohen, Kyle Rapps, and more.
Thanks to one fateful night hanging out with Rocky and crew years ago, Vulkan shared his track "V I Z Z E R" with the then-relatively unknown Harlem star. "When we talked about production, we had the same aesthetic," Vulkan says. "We wanted cinematic, surreal, fantastical production with the type of flows we have, which are kind of Southern twang and a gumbo of L.A., New York, and Florida—we always talked about that, and Clams Casino was the producer we looked up to, as far as the sound we wanted. I based my sound a lot off Clams, Blue Sky Black Death, etc." As a close friend of A$AP Josh, Vulkan would later go on to work with A$AP Ferg on "Coke & Rum" but missed an opportunity to record with Rocky on what eventually became the beat for "Wassup" because he got called into work at the time.
He released a few solo projects over the years including his Robbie Darko EP and his most recent, VX-13: Do You Remember Love, but earlier this year, Chace Infinite, Rocky's manager, hit up Vulkan from London. "He said, 'We're using your song and Rocky raps over it and Hector does some shit on the chorus,'" Vulkan says. "It brought me back when I heard the song, and it took me back to 2010 when no one knew about A$AP Rocky, and it brought memories. It's amazing. The song is 13 years old."
Entirely produced by the Brooklyn-via-Cali Vulkan, "V I Z Z E R" was entirely made on an MPC 2000 by chopping up the Platters' "I'll Be Home for Christmas" simply for the violins. "I added a piano on my own, I added a harp, I added those drums at the beginning of the song, and I added some distorted backwards vocals—they were mine. I was saying 'Music, music, music' over and over," Vulkan says. "I distorted the shit out of it." Yesterday was the first time he heard Rocky's "Excuse Me" in full. "It's a beautiful song," he says. "It could've been on his first mixtape."
When Vulkan signed off on Rocky's camp using the song, he thought they were initially just going to use the sample of "I'll Be Home for Christmas, but as we've heard, they used most of the original production. "When the chorus comes in the track changes, but during the verses you can still hear my melody in there," he says. "I think that’s the driving force behind the track. I was worried that they might change it too much, but when I heard it, it sounded amazing. If I remixed it, that’s exactly what I would’ve done to it."