Music
15 Minutes with a NINJA

15 Minutes with a NINJA

by Andy Davis / 03.07.2009

There’s a new sound blowing up in the Kaapse Afrikaanse hip hop community. Imagine some dirty electro 80s style beats and some simple-yet-catchy synth. Then throw in some of the filthiest and funniest lyrics you’ve ever heard, at the same time poignant and dripping with irony and you’re getting close to what Die Antwoord is producing, under the billing of a zef rap-rave crew. So rof are some of the lyrics that, frankly, you need to take a bath after listening to it. Other tracks are like nursery rhymes for dof gangsters about the perils of smoking weed, Dagga Puff and struggling to get naai’d, Scopie. Then there’s the hit collaboration with Francois Van Coke on Doos Dronk which recreates a Tom Waits inspired burlesque style drinking song with Ninja and Yolandi Visser from Die Antwoord dropping the verses hip hop style and Francois conjuring up all the moments of his drunken youth and belting out the chorus. It’s an ode to the dop system. A song that captures and distills to essence all the dronk verdriet weekends of a million Kaapse farm workers. It’s a visceral South African masterpiece of a song. And this is a very different take on Gangster Rap.

So we at Mahala thought it would be poignant to give Die Antwoord their 15 glorious minutes in the fabulous glare of the Mahala fame bulb. But NINJA, frontman of Die Antwoord, had a few ground rules first.
1. The interview had to be done over the internet.
2. We’re not allowed to mention any of their previous projects.
This is how it went down.

Mahala: What is Die Antwoord?

NINJA: Die Antwoord is the name of my zef Zuid Afrikaanse rap-rave crew.

Mahala: How did Die Antwoord come about?

NINJA: Die Antwoord was always there hiding in the dark waiting for me to find it.

Mahala: A song like Dagga Puff has a strong and direct social message and comes across as a kind of nursery rhyme – and it’s obvious you’re trying to make a point and change the habits of your audience, or at least make them think more. Then other songs like Doos Dronk with Francois – take more subtle, tongue in cheek digs at our alcoholic culture. Same with Scopie – taking on sex. Are you trying to make a point. Or do you just want people to dance to your music, get fucked and then go home and pomp?

NINJA: Yes.

Mahala: How do you feel when your audience does not connect with the meaning of your music – and thinks that some of these ‘ironic’ songs are intentional. As if Die Antwoord is to get fucked up and have sex and live to buy expensive kak.

NINJA: Different people find Die Antwoord in different things.

Mahala: You said in the interview with Griffin on the Watkykjy website that you like coloured people. From your music it sounds like you are coloured, but from that statement, I take it you’re not. Are you pretending to be coloured?

NINJA: Every poes is pink on the inside.

Mahala: Do coloured people find Die Antwoord patronising?

NINJA: I’ll ask some of my coloured tjommies when I go to Mitchell’s Plein next Thursday.

Mahala: Do you get negative feedback because people think you’re just jumping on this Kaapse taal rap to sell records?

NINJA: We don’t sell records. Die Antwoord $O$ album is downloadable for free off the interweb. (Click here to download Die Antwoord)

Mahala: Does Afrikaans music sell more units than English South African music? Is Die Antwoord a calculated business decision?

NINJA: Everything I do is strictly business.

Mahala: Is Die Antwoord making money?

NINJA: Die Antwoord maak dik fokken zak my blaar.

Mahala: When you talk about your gang $O$ you seem to use a lot of Cape Gang references, phrases like bloed in, bloed uit and other symbols in your style. Is that just bad ass gangster rap posturing. Or are you guys really connected to gangs in and out of prison?

NINJA: Ask no questions hear no lies.

Mahala: Word on the street is that your use of certain elements of Cape Gang culture has upset some gang members. How do you deal with that? Does it scare you that these bad fokken naaiers want to get you?

NINJA: My blaar, we all in the same gang.

Mahala: Lekker Ninja. Let me know. I’m really keen to do a good piece here. So please don’t just give me one word answers. Try and elaborate and show our audience who the Ninja is and what Die Antwoord is all about. If the question is kak, then tell me why and set me straight.

NINJA: No your questions was kak gevaarlik my blaar.

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RESPONSES (106)
  1. Paul says:

    Great Fuckin Band

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  2. chris says:

    I think u guys are awsome. Just keep doin what ur doing it rocks

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  3. Andrew says:

    Yes!

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  4. Mustefa says:

    You could certainly see your sklils in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

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  5. charlton says:

    Ninja se poes hy rep kak

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  6. Yo Meng says:

    Ninja is a performance artist who wills himself into new creations. These new creations are lived 24×7 as a method actor ‘lives’ her character to play it more convincingly in a movie. Waddy *is* now Ninja, and attempts to play it straight across the board.

    “2. We’re not allowed to mention any of their previous projects.” is hint to the transitional state of this character (this interview was in ’09, it’s 2014 when I write this and Ninja is full blown and mature). Each character consumes and destroys what comes before it. Waddy’s disbanding his previous bands is case in point: he doesn’t need them any more so they go away, and so did the identity he made with them.

    To ask if Die Antwoord is ‘real’ makes little sense: no one asks any actor if his act is real. And more to the point, no one asks the ex-punk bands the Red Hot Chili Peppers or the Beastie Boys if their new funk rock or rap personas are “real”. Musical transformation is considered to be reasonable – the Beatles pop transitioned into rock, from clean(ish) cut to dirty freaks. Did anyone ask Madonna if her late career techno reinvention was ‘real’? Of course, transition is a sign of failure. No one needs to abandon a success.

    What I’m eager to see is how Waddy acts/performs in 10-20 years. Will he be satisfied to have become Ninja and stop his re-invention? Oddly, it seems like it would be “out-of-character” for him to stop being a (new) character. Time will tell. I leave this posting on the internet to see how things shape up in 2024. Peace.

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