Afrika 4 Beginners is Jack Parow’s fifth studio album and the PR blurb tells you it’s his best to date. For once, the PR spin is spot on, as the eponymous Bellville breker- who probably the entire country will always remember for ' jy dink jy’s cooler as ekke' - gives fans old and new, something to really rate him by.
There are 18 tracks, many of which are collaborations with other South African artists from Early B to HHP, Aewon Wolf, Hunter Kennedy and the Happy Boys as well as alternative Afrikaans icon Koos Kombuis and Parow’s long-time US mate Dirt Nasty, and even comic interludes by Twakkie and Schalk Bezuidenhout.
It’s a rich melange that would almost be overpowering were it not for the absolute Parow genius of two tracks: Boepens Vark and Bang Babelaas, while the Afrikaans standard, Johnny is nie dood nie, comes alive like you’ve never heard it sung before, in duet with Kombuis.
Bang Babelaas is a must for anyone who’s ever drunk too much. Hungover or sober it’s difficult not to laugh out loud at either the rhymes or the essential lived truth behind them.
Boepens Vark, a song about a middle-aged northern suburbs Cape Town gigolo, is as clever as it is funny - and it just gets funnier every time you listen to it.
Parow is without a doubt the greatest rapper South Africa has seen or heard. His lyrics are on a par with Eminem, while the Detroit man was still at his best, but his sense of humour segues all the way to Australia’s Kevin ‘Bloody’ Wilson.
Afrika 4 Beginners isn’t for the faint-hearted - ‘don’t listen to it in the car if your granny is with you’, warns the media advisory. Parow verbally machine-guns sacred cows with his gold-plated AK 47s - with simpering virgins as collateral damage - but it shows just why he’s at the top of his game.
It’s been nine years since Cooler as Ekke was released; Parow is certainly no beginner but he hasn’t reached his zenith yet either.