Before the Ninja

I’ll never forget seeing Waddy Jones perform in March 2009, near the Bart Simpson statue in Cape Town.

Memory … all alone in the moonlight (I can smile at the old days … I was beautiful then)

It was Infecting the City, and Simon and I had taken a lunchtime walk to check out Jitsvinger, who we’d met at a party a couple of weeks before. He was performing on Greenmarket Square, so we watched him playing guitar with a couple of MCs and had a beer.

I remember we thought about going to check out Freshlyground, and Gazelle were also doing something somewhere, but eventually we just started walking back.

As we got to the Bart Simpson statue, outside CNA, we saw that something was going on there too, which didn’t seem to be on the programme.

It was a tall, thin guy, dressed like a Jehovah’s Witness, in a white shirt, buttoned up to the top, no tie, and grey suit, standing in front of three or four nerdy-looking, black-clad vibraphone players, who were taking the whole thing really seriously. I know what a vibraphone is because the most irritating teacher I ever had was a professional vibraphonist. They can be really haunting. Vibraphones, I mean.

As with most of the lesser-known acts around town, people were just walking past, but this sounded pretty interesting, so we stopped.

I remember clearly that the guy was singing ‘Memory’, from Cats, really, really slowly, with a heck of a lot of reverb on the mic, and the effect was emotional and really eerie, especially in contrast to the uninterested lunchtime crowds. I know we stayed for two songs, but I can’t for the life of me remember what the other one was. I think it was a hymn, maybe ‘Amazing Grace’.

Then I looked closely at his face and realised that the tall, skinny guy was Waddy Jones. I couldn’t believe it … I was a big fan of Max Normal (Songs from the Mall is the soundtrack to my first and second year varsity) and I knew about, but this was so different – and there was no adoring crowd, no rapping, no attitude. I was like, okay, this is Waddy’s new thing. It’s a little bit lame, but I could get into it.

He was sporting that shaved-sides hairstyle that everybody has now. At the time it was very out there.

I looked around to see if anyone else had twigged, but it wasn’t really Waddy’s demographic … Simon and I perched on the base of the Bart statue to watch, next to the only other spectator; a worn-out street cleaner who was taking a break. But I would venture a guess that the lack of reaction was what Waddy was going for. How things have changed.

There was also a thin blonde woman, holding a small blonde child, hovering near the CNA entrance, watching. In between songs she went up to Waddy and they had a low conversation, it looked like she was telling him where she would meet him later, and then she left.

I guessed she was his significant other. Now I know that was Yo-Landi Vi$$er, and I bet you can imagine how much I WISH I’d taken a picture. She looked totally normal back then. I was even surprised, like, why’s she going out with that weirdo.

Then I went back to work and didn’t think about Watkin Tudor Jones at all, until three months later, when the music video for ‘Wat Pomp’ emerged.

And it was in February 2012, exactly two years ago, that Die Antwoord’s website crashed its servers when ‘Enter the Ninja’ went viral.

Anyway, I have a really crappy 10-second video of 2009’s Memory, taken with this phone (just about). It’s not really worth it, but since they’re famous now:

Author: ProjectJennifer

Project Jennifer was one of the most complex, expensive, and secretive intelligence operations of the Cold War at a cost of about $800 million ($3.6 billion in 2012 dollars).

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