Jack Parow invited me to his house once. He said not to bring any meat because he had plenty, and not to worry about drinks because there was a wine rack full of brandy. That if I really needed to bring something then, maybe, just some more ice, please?
So I bought two bags of ice and pulled up to the double story house at the top of Tamboerskloof. The neighbours all live in boxy Stefan Antoni designs with that clean line, glass and steel vernacular. Homes with high walls, remote access double garages and electric fences, all of which are there to keep Top Billing presenters from coming in and fawning.
Jack Parow’s place is testament to the realtor’s maxim of buying the worst house in the best street, and looks as if it’s been brought in from the Northern suburbs with its low Vibracrete wall and cars parked on a slasto driveway. Even the balcony looks like one of Jack Parow’s extended peak caps. As I arrive Jack Parow leaves – in his brand new all black VW Amarok double cab – to go and buy one of those family-sized inflatable pools that you see on the Verimark ads. So I sit on Jack Parow’s balcony taking in Jack Parow’s views, drinking Jack Parow’s brandy and speaking broken Afrikaans to Jack Parow’s friends, all while waiting for Jack Parow to return with Jack Parow’s new pool.
But how successful is Jack Parow, really?
Well for his latest album, Parow’s third full-length album, the double-disc Nag van Die Lang Pette, he’s gone and taken the leader of SA’s most successful band, one that’s been credited as being the voice of a generation, for ushering in a new wave of alternatief Afrikaans artists, a guy who has had movies made about his band, taken that fucking guy, and made him his PA.
“Life is much better now that Wynand is managing me,” says Parow, Twisp electronic pipe – the latest sponsor to Parow’s ever-growing list of benefactors – in hand. Now we’re sitting at a restaurant in Kloof Street and Wynand will join us just as soon as he’s finished up with whatever he’s busy with. “We have an office at my house and Wynand has the most amazing work ethic. I’ve never met anyone who works harder than him. He doesn’t just talk, like if you say something to him while you’re drinking he will actually show up the next day, with quotes and plans and everything, and then help you to execute your ideas.”
Parow’s first album did platinum, the second did gold and when this one goes double platinum he says he’ll buy another house. “Fokkit, I’ll buy all the other houses, kick everyone out and put up a boom.” Platinum in this country is 40 000 units. “Ag, I dunno if that’s enough actually. It’s like winning Survivor where you have enough bucks to buy a car and put a deposit on a flat and then you’re done.”
Maybe this album will be the silver bullet that gets Parow a second house on the hill? By the sound of things he’s trying to appeal to as many South Africans as he can, not only rhyming in Funigalore on BlouBek, but with Nonku doing hooks and Rattex spitting vernac; then there’s boeremusiek on one track, PH Fat taking care of the cool kids on another, Dirt Nasty’s slo-mo flow on Fok Fokkity Fok and everyone’s favourite rockstar, Francois van Coke, howling on the head-banger’s Staan Op.
I don’t think this is as much an identity crisis as being something to everyone, which is the beauty of Jack Parow – he can be as comfy with a black chick as he can with an Afrikaans sokkie band or a Yank ex-porn star. Parow is the every man. Just richer.
“Money is lakka, but music is music. I own my house, but there’s still no proper pool in the yard, yet. Right now I’m doing other things like fixing the roof. Oh and I built my own braai! Jan Braai gave me the idea for like a fire pit type vibe. I dug all the rocks out of the ground and carried them up to where I wanted to build it, myself. Obviously I like to tell everyone about it. Lekker windgat.”
A tour to Holland is happening at the end of May, and Parow hopes the rand gets even worse. The Dutch are not only obsessed with South Africa, but have really bought into the Parow persona. “I did a TV show – their version of Carte Blanche – and as soon as I arrived in Holland the guy at the airport doing the stairs shouted at me ‘Hey Jack Parow!’” In fact, just a few days prior to our meeting Parow got wined-and-dined by the Dutch Embassy at the Consulate General’s place.
Likewise Eminem’s people recently cozied up to Parow, cherry-picking him to be the South African act for the Eminem Rapture tour. “As far as I know they send the options to Eminem and he chooses who he wants himself, which is pretty rad as I’m the only local act. I hope to at least meet him. But then I met Snoop when he was here and…” Parow stops himself. “Actually I don’t want to talk shit about Snoop.”
Parow’s steak arrives with the side-salad that he requested. Parow’s watching his weight see, and to be fair he is looking much leaner than when I saw him last. Wynand on the other hand might be married and a little fuller than he was at the height of Fokofpolisiekar , but he still subscribes to rock ‘n’ roll excess, and chooses the chips option. Parow can’t help himself, leans across the table and grabs one off of Wynand’s plate, singing:
“Ooh… a Chippie is a lekka ding.”
The last time we ate steak together we finished up just in time for a swim in the porta-pool that Parow had gone and bought on a whim. After we’d got in his baby’s-mother, Jenna Pietersen, showed up from wherever she’d been, which must’ve been somewhere fancy because she was dressed to the nines. Well, despite this she jumped straight into the pool wearing her little black dress. Make no mistake, this was living, no hashtags necessary, sharing an inflatable pool with South Africa’s most famous rapper, it’s top swimsuit model and some Afrikaans guys.
But we’ll be having none of that tonight, because Parow has a piano lesson to get to. “I want to change into a white suit, like motherfucking Elton John, and do my own piano parts on a grand piano at every show. But maybe it will have to be, like, a yoga outfit and a keyboard…”