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Every now and then an artist comes along who, with every album release, fearlessly carves a new and exciting path. Jack Parow is one of those rare artists and his third album, Nag van die Lang Pette, is yet another new and exciting path. The rapper spoke to Therese Owen about his double album as well as that Bloubek video with that look-alike, which is already causing controversy.
It’s quiet, almost too quiet. I am sitting on Jack Parow’s veranda which overlooks the forest on Cape Town’s Fein Heuwel. He has wandered inside to get Red Bulls and an electric cigarette.
“I used to smoke 40 cigarettes a day, but stopped a few weeks back,” he said, lighting the strange-looking metallic object.
“I’m already feeling better.”
This is a few days before he released the controversial video for his single Bloubek on YouTube.
The video has an underground fight scene between Parow and a big pink, fluffy bunny. While the crowd eggs them on, a group of sexy black gals are twerking in the background. The fight becomes more violent, the crowd uglier and the gals sexier until – doof! – Parow knocks the pink bunny so hard it falls to the ground, its head flying off to reveal a very close look-alike of Steve Hofmeyr.
When I question Parow about it, he says it’s not that he has a problem with the controversial right-wing, gung-ho singer.
“The character symbolises the old way of thinking. I really want to show what the new South Africa is about. This video symbolises the fight between the old and the new. Jack Parow and his generation are the new. He is winning and taking over.”
Meanwhile, back to our inter- view at his home in Tamboerskloof.
Parow’s pretty blonde assistant is busy in the office just beneath his house and his manager, Wynand Myburgh (the bassist and man- ager for Van Coke Kartel and Fokofpolisiekar) is discussing album launches and listening sessions with his PR person, Louise Crouse.
“This is the first day of his office at home,” Crouse told me earlier.
“Before turning it into an office, it was Jack’s man cave.”
“At the moment I am trying to get my head around an album launch year,” muses Parow.
“And now with Wynand joining my team… it’s actually lucky I have office space here.”
This is also because by working from home, he is close to his insanely beautiful model girl- friend and their toddler.
Myburgh has long been managing his own bands as well as side projects. The man is known for his hardcore, no-nonsense approach to the fickle music industry and is a maniacally hard worker, as are his bands. So, there is no doubt Parow is in for a busy, busy time.
This is compounded by the fact that he is one of the biggest and most respected artists in the country and this week he released his third album. Add to this the fact that Nag van die Lang Pette is a double album and it looks like 2014 will be Die Jaar van Jack Parow.
The album has an acoustic side comprising reworks of his big hits like Dans Dans Dans featuring Francois van Coke, Eksie Ou and Tussen Stasies with Pierre Greef.
In terms of the new tracks there is a frighteningly epic ballad with Mr Cat and the Jackal called Die Kruispad which is an Afrikaans 21st-century inspired cover of the classic Crossroad Blues by Robert Johnson. Parow calms it down with a beautiful track featuring Valiant Swart, Tema van Jou Lied, that will gladly be taken up by the more conservative kyknet and RSG.
About the positioning of his tracks, Parow believes: “The internet is the main place to promote. No one makes videos for TV stations anymore. You- tube is the hunting ground of my young fans, but Tema van Jou Lied with Valiant will get on to television.
“I have been wanting to work with Valiant since my first album, but I wasn’t well known enough. Then, on my second album, I recorded with David Kramer.
“When I wrote Tema van Jou Lied it had to be Valiant. He brought a lot of elements to the song, like the harmonica. Oh, and he also corrected grammatical errors.”
Parow worked on the acoustic album with his guitarist and producer Loki Rothman helped him rework the songs.
“Loki gave them new life,” he smiles.
What the acoustic production demonstrates is just how perfectly Parow’s music and lyrics can transcend hip hop into mainstream, radio-friendly songs. It also shows that his brand, while it trades on novelty, can and will stand the test of time because there is something profound and well thought-out, both musically and lyrically.
The acoustic idea was inspired by an international live showcase commissioned by Sony ATV’s Jay Savage. Initially, Nag van die Lang Pette was just supposed to be acoustic, but then those heavy songs which Parow creates with his producer, Jason de Nobrega, started coming thick and fast.
The electric side is very, very heavy at times. He also features rappers PHFat, his DJ Naaldekoker, Nonku Phiri and, of course, the obligatory collaboration with his close friend, Van Coke.
This is not hip hop. This is dark, angry rock which is made lighter and all that much more accessible by Parow’s socially observant, anarchic poetry.
Nag van die Lang Pette is yet another giant step forward in South African music and another reason why Parow has become one of the most important artists of his generation.
Let the Jack Parow 2014 games begin!