Kameraad Mhambi sees there is some confusion online over what the term Zef means. Die Antwoord does Zef Afrikaans Rap Rave. What is Zef?
The question to Die Antwoord, I believe, is an Afrikaans website called Wat Kyk Jy? (“What are you looking at, mate?”, that ominous last sentence you’ll hear in a pub before waking up on the ground).
The site pays homage to Afrikaans slang and zef ? an Afrikaans term that roughly translates to what we in South Africa also refer to as “common”: clapped-out Ford Cortinas with fur on the dashboard, tight mom jeans pulled up too high, “synth-heavy ringtone rave”, mullets. Zef isn’t a music style, and it’s not limited to any one culture or location, obviously, but www.watkykjy.co.za celebrates it particularly well in Afrikaans (the site was born, incidentally, in Pretoria, 1000km north of CT).
So yes, Cape Town is also full of zef, and what Ninja, Yo-lande and their crew are tapping into brilliantly is zef in the coloured community (the official SA term for mixed-race people) of the gangster-ridden Cape Flats, which would include rap in the street venac mix of English and Afrikaans.
The Flats or SA may not have heard anything like Die Antwoord’s zef-rap-rave before, but having been to a few city centre concerts where the trendy stand around trying to make sense of the new incarnation of Wadkin Tudor Jones, I?ve often seen bergies (coloured homeless people) dancing to it and laughing and totally getting it. And the crew’s gigs in the parking lots of Mitchell?s Plain go down a riot. So yes, they’re authentic. Is Marshall Mathers, if you want to draw a parallel, any less authentic when he’s in character as Slim Shady?
Jack Parow, by the way, does the zef thing, equally brilliantly, from Cape Town’s Afrikaans middle-class suburbs, far, far removed from the slums of the Flats.
Here is Jack Parrow:
The Watkykjy websaait has a Zef slang dictionary over here.
So with any luck, thanks to Die Antwoord, Afrikaans will contribute Zef to the global vernacular, alongside those great words – apartheid, aardvark, trek (as in Star trek) and wildebeest.
Go here for the meaning of the phrase “Wat kyk jy!”.