Journalist. Writer. Researcher. Editor.

The power of the Parow

The one and only, Jack Parow.

THE air parts with a “swish” as he turns his head from side to side with the banging beat. The sound reverberates in the air, echoing with the sound of fathers screaming for their wives and daughters, and the sound of shotguns being cocked. The kêppie met ’n bietjie ekstra pep looms out of the shadows, and a sidelong tilt of his head reveals the most earth-shuddering snor this stage has yet seen. A little bit of vanilla ice-cream still clings to the leftmost corner of the gruff beauty, but seems to try to crawl away from the profanities spilling out from the gaping mouth next to it.

He disgusts and entertains, he’s sexy and vile. You want to shut him off but you just can’t stop laughing long enough to find the “off” button.

Welcome. You have just witnessed the power of the Parow.

Jack Parow has become an icon of our times in South Africa, the rarefied Dutchman from “behind the boerewors curtain” in the Western Cape, and closely follows other controversial Afrikaans musicians Fokofpolisiekar.

Where Parow differs from his hard rock forebears, however, is the crass persona of Jack Parow , apparently the result of a drunken night slur: “Jack Sparrow, pirate of the Caribbean – I’m Jack Parow , pirate of the caravan park.” The name stuck, and Parow was born.

Although no competition for Johnny Depp, Parow also sports some rather interesting wardrobe choices, apparently so chosen to boost his stereotype “Dutchman” image.

His maker is none other than Bellville born-and-raised Zander Tyler, who claims influences such as Snoop Dogg, the Wu-tang Clan and more recently Ludacris and Lil Wayne for his love of rapping, and has been enjoying the fast talk for almost a decade. Tyler said he only started rapping in Afrikaans after jamming with Cape Town rap crew Brasse vannie Kaap, where he learnt to start rapping in Afrikaans, and liked the flow.

And as any Afrikaner knows, Afrikaans is ma’ te lekker vloek-taal.

Parow started rapping on the scene along with hit rock band Die Heuwels Fantasties, but hit the scenes with his acclaimed YouTube hit Cooler as Ekke, which has hit over 600 000 (update: 1,2-million) views on the site. Parow’s debut album launch has fared even better, and he said he reached gold sales earlier this week. That translates to more than 25000 albums sold in just over a month.

“I’m flippen stoked. I rapped for so long for f…l, and now it’s just crazy,” the artist said this week.

So while many Afrikaners find his music offensive, he clearly has a strong following among Afrikaans and English-speakers alike.

Tyler’s response to their conundrum is simple: “If they don’t like it, then they mustn’t listen to it,” harking back to criticism dished out earlier this year from Koos Kombuis, one of yesteryear’s leaders in Afrikaans rock. Kombuis described the zef rap movement as “narcissist”, “sexist” and “nihilist”, and asks the question: “Were we in Voëlvry anti-everything? No, we were anti-apartheid,” he wrote in his Rapport column.

You hit the nail on the head, Koos. The satire of Parow and his Dutchman chic is a self-reflective dig at the stereotype itself. Or, it would have been, had it been just a stereotype.

Tyler’s shirt reads: “Congratulations. You have just met Jack Parow.”

Originally published in the Daily Dispatch, June 4, 2010.

Originally published in the Daily Dispatch, June 4, 2010

Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , ,