South African party rap crew Die Antwoord have taken to their official Facebook page to offer their side of reports alleging that duo Ninja and Yolandi Visser stole their style as well as design elements and lyrics from a group of troubled South African youths.
In a story released by Johannesburg newspaper City Press, Cape Town farmer, Andre Laubscher alleged that Watkin Tudor Jones a.k.a. Ninja, jacked Die Antwoord’s style from a group of street kids to whom he offered shelter on his farm, by plying them with drugs and alcohol.
“Waddy Jones shattered the boys’ lives,” said Laubscher. The boys — Wanga Jack, Mzamo Mzi, Aviwe Dikiza and Chelvin Engelbrecht — were members of a hip-hop crew called The Glue Gang Boys and stayed on Laubscher’s farm on the slopes of Tamboerskloof.
Waddy, now known as Ninja, at the time went by the name Max Normal.TV and was dating a girl by the name of Anri du Toit, later to rebrand herself as the hyper-sexual, foul-mouthed pixie rap star Yolandi Visser.
A student at the time, the 19-year-old du Toit would regularly stay on Laubscher’s farm, introducing her boyfriend Jones to the The Glue Gang Boys, with the pair striking up a friendship with member Wanga Jack and taking the teen under their wing.
But according to Laubscher, their friendship wasn’t so wholesome. “Waddy Jones sucked the whole of Die Antwoord out of these boys here on this farm,” he said. “And they were vulnerable. They were the children of alcoholics. So to come in here and give them booze and dagga. That’s not on.”
“[Jones] used to come here and talk to us about our past and where we come from,” said one member. “I’ve been to prison twice, and in prison you learn this language and there are these [tattoos]…he was obviously looking for this kind of image for himself.”
In the City Press report, members of The Glue Gang Boys allege that Die Antwoord would severely underpay them for their services as backup dancers for Die Antwoord’s live shows, as well as appearances on songs and in videos for them, with member Wanga Jack being particularly vocal.
“First we were dancers for him. And then I became a DJ…And then suddenly I wrote a song with them,” said Jack. He was paid SA$100 to perform at a Die Antwoord gig, boosted to $200 after complaining to the band. “But people were paying $250 just to get into the concert,” he said.
Jack also claimed that he is owed royalties from an appearance on the Die Antwoord track Evil Boy as well as in the song’s controversial video. Even more damningly, Jack claimed to have signed a contract with Die Antwoord’s then-label Interscope Records while still underage.
Now Die Antwoord have shared their side of the story in a series of dispatches posted to their official Facebook page, in which they claim that Laubscher’s narrative is untrue and that his statement to the press are a result of the news that Die Antwoord are set to star in a Hollywood film.
“K so here’z da scoop about Wanga kids,” they begin. “So… Ninja met ¥o-landi a loooooong time ago on a strange little farm in Cape Town. Now on the farm lived a creepy old man with big beard and fat tummy called Andre. Andre didn’t own the farm, he just squatted there.”
They allege that the in-his-fifties Laubscher would attempt to woo the then 19-year-old Yolandi Visser with love letters and requests to take nude photographs of her. “It was Ninja who finally convinced Yolandi to move off the farm when Wanga…showed Ninja and Yolandi a secret box.”
Inside the “secret box” was a collection of nude photographs of girls who had visited or stayed at the farm. Die Antwoord insist that it was their discovery of the photographs paired with jealousy of the band’s success that inspired Laubscher’s antipathy towards the pair.
“When this recent big new hit that that Ninja and Yolandi are going to be starring in a big hollywood movie, some haters lost their fuckin minds,” they write. “And all of a sudden, people (who we have nothing to do with) start crawling out the woodwork with all sorts of ridiculous claims.”
They explain that Laubscher encouraged Wanga Jack to go to the press with a cooked-up story in which Die Antwoord are depicted as villains and crooks. Instead, they claim, they attempted to act as mentors to the young Jack, who they describe as “a lost soul, looking for direction in life.”
Despondent over bullying from locals in his mother’s Xhosa (residents of south-east South Africa) neighbourhood for his failure to adhere to their initiation customs — in particular his failure to get circumcised — Die Antwoord welcomed Jack into their crew.
Together, the three produced the track Evil Boy, which speaks out against barbaric Xhosa initiation rights. Jack, meanwhile, was acting as backup dancer and roadie for the band’s live shows, while Ninja attempted to impart life lessons to the teen.
However consistent unprofessionalism from Jack, such as missing a flight to Johannesburg for a concert, arriving late to appointments, and constant partying led Ninja and Yolandi to removing him from the crew, saying “Wanga did not take this music stuff very seriously.”
The band claim that “Wanga just got out of Pollsmoor Prison recently (for the 2nd time), then decided to go to the papers, and say how Die Antwoord ‘expoited him’. But our sweet little Wanga twisted a few facts here and there, and also left out all the fun stuff in this here note.”
However the band claim that there’s no bad blood, saying “We still love Wanga. He’s just a bit lost, and getting ‘guidance’ from the wrong people… And if one day, Wanga says sorry to us for being naughty and telling lies… Maybe we’ll even give him another chance.”