Once in a while, you get the opportunity to speak to somebody truly interesting – whether it’s your well-read Anthropology professor, an estranged uncle who did hard time, or a homeless man who decided to sit next to you on the bus. Whoever the person, and whatever the topic, you emerge having learned something new, or seen something in a new light. The sentiment isn’t always the same, however. You may leave the conversation feeling completely depressed, disgusted, or faithless toward the human race. The inverse is also possible: you may leave the conversation elated, hopeful, or excited.
My conversation with Die Antwoord’s Ninja would fit into the latter category. A person as candid and genuinely amicable as Ninja is hard to find. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character in Almost Famous advises us not to befriend musicians just because they’re famous: “I know you think those guys are your friends. You wanna be a true friend to them? Be honest, and unmerciful.” But Ninja sort of did that job for me. He was honest, humble, and endearingly self-depreciating. There is an energy and enthusiasm in him that left me with a greater hope for the future of independent music. How could I be unmerciful to someone so (sometimes brutally) honest and genuine?
Our conversation followed no specific trajectory, but we certainly learned some new things about South Africa’s hip hop sensation. We’re talking five future albums, Die Antwoord the action figure, and even Die Antwoord the video game. Basically, they’re taking over.