15 Minutes with a NINJAby 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?
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.