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Die Antwoord responds to exploitation claims by publicly bullying Wanga Jack

In the City Press of 22 September, claims were made by Wanga Jack (aka Evil Boy) and Chelvin Engelbrecht of the The Glue Gang Boys, as well as Anton Duitsman – creator of The Matrix SA Style, which was heavily borrowed from in the content of Die Antwoord’s first album $O$, about exploitation and royalty irregularities.

The article’s writer, Charl Blignaut, states in the article that “Questions sent to their agents and to Jones himself went unanswered.”

He has provided further clarity on the matter, “I did send questions to Waddy and to Jay Savage at Sony ATV and to Die Antwoord’s local and international press people and also their management, I think three times over the course of five days to five different people.”

Questions sent to Waddy and his team are comprehensive and thorough, in order to provide him with the opportunity to state his side of the story. Among other things, Blignaut asked clear questions about Die Antwoord’s use of Wanga’s drawings, including whether or not permission was requested for use of it, to create toys. Other questions included asking whether they were aware the contract Wanga signed, at the apparent age of 17, was illegal and why Wanga and the original deejay Hi-Tek weren’t included in the future of Die Antwoord. He asks many questions about how much truth there is in Anton Duitsman’s claims to royalties and whether Jack is eligible for any royalties.

While neither Die Antwoord nor any member of any of their press team have provided any official response to Blignaut’s questions, they have decided to publically lash out at Wanga on their Facebook page.

“oh wanga. u poor lost thing. u know what happenz 2 little boyz who tell big lies ne? u can fool sum ppl sumtimez, but u can’t fool all da ppl all da time. don’t worry skox, we still love u 😉 (sic)”

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Blignaut is of the opinion that “Die Antwoord’s Facebook post was a direct response to the City Press story” and has explained that “(his) first thought was ‘bully’. It seemed to confirm everything Wanga and Selwyn told me – that Waddy bullied them into taking what he wanted.”

He goes on to explain how easy it is, “as a relatively wealthy middle-aged white South African male to intimidate other people like that.”

Much speculation has been made that Die Antwoord have presented what some call ‘coloured gangster personas’ through the lens of the more socially-swallowable white artist.

In a previous interview in January 2012, they were quoted in response to being asked about allegations of cultural appropriation as saying, “Talk to the people who actually bump our shit. You’ll find them fascinating. They are in every one of our music videos.” Does having people act in a video count as them supporting your cultural identity or are Die Antwoord further exploiting people to legitimise their act?

“We appeal to the man in the street. We run the exact same campaign as Zuma and Malema do. We make pop music. We don’t make intellectual music.” Listening to cuts from previous incarnations of Watkin Tudor Jones in acts like Max Normal.TV and Constructus Corporation, especially the former, could convince you that the musicians are exceptionally intelligent and shouldn’t be brushed off as not being aware of what they’re doing presenting these ‘zef’ personas.

An artist that Waddy spent much time with when creating and perfecting the character of ‘Ninja’, was Isaac Mutant. In chatting to Isaac, Blignaut found that, “Isaac was very much in defense of Waddy and the prevailing sentiment is that these guys must buck up and make the most of it,” Isaac explains in a 2011 Mahala interview that, “That bra (Ninja) wakes up at 4 in the morning and that naai works his poes pap.”

Importantly, in that same interview, Isaac Mutant says, “To be fairly honest with you white people understand the market better than us brasse, us brasse only understand the ghetto, you know.” “But it’s about stylising, it’s about packaging.”

The ‘packaging’ that Die Antwoord has done to rocket to international fame like very few South African musicians have done before has done harm to the vulnerable young ex-fans turned ‘employees.’ The question here is how much harm has been done to the various people who contributed to the genesis of the act. Filmmaker and culture theorist Roger Young had this to say, “Is this appropriation as a function of Coloniality, or is it artistic borrowing? Look at Picasso’s use of African masks. When is it okay for an artist to use something from another culture, and on what terms?”

We tried to get hold of Wanga for comment, but our attempts were unsuccessful. We will follow up with him in the next few days to find out what he thinks in order to gain more perspective and to find out what he thinks of Die Antwoord’s tactics on Facebook. 

According to the owner of the Tamboerskloof farm where Wanga, Chelvin and the rest of the now-missing Glue Gang Boys found shelter, Andre Laubscher, “Waddy Jones shattered the boys’ lives.” According to Laubscher, who found out when it was too late, as well as the boys, Watkin Tudor Jones had used his prestige as an established rapper, to manipulate them into hanging out late at night, drinking and smoking weed, behind Laubscher’s back.

Chelvin is quoted in Blignaut’s piece, “(Jones) used to come here and talk to us, about our past, and where we come from. I’ve been to prison twice, and in prison you learn this language and there are these chappies (tattoos). And he was obviously looking for this kind of image for himself … When I saw him again, he was full of tattoos.”

We want to know, What Do You Think?

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