The District Six Homecoming Centre was a fitting location to launch Jitsologie, a new EP by Afrikaans cultural activist and hip hop artist Jitsvinger. Amid walls adorned in artefacts from the pre-eviction era and a room full of vibrant faces, Jitsvinger exercised his command of the Afrikaans language and Kaaps vernacular in an impressive, rhythmic fashion.
The rapper is a tall, lanky figure whose imposing look is as bold as are his lyrics. Ten years after the release of his debut album Skeletsleutel, his machine gun flow and stream of consciousness poetry is still as poignant as it was then. Jitsvinger’s staying power was illustrated on the night in the timeless telling of South African (in particular Cape Town) stories and his ability to do so with finesse.
Joined on stage by a formidable two-piece rhythm section in Marlon Williams (bass) and Carlo Fabe (drums), Jits (as he was affectionately dubbed by iconic songbird Vicky Sampson – also the event’s MC) demonstrated not only his vocal prowess, but also his competency on the electric guitar. They were joined intermittently by R&B singer Claire Phillips (who featured on the EP’s first single Breinsuiker), beatmaker Gary Arsenic, DJ Nantal Hopley, saxophonist Chloe Rezant and the sultry, sweet vocals of Ruby Christen Truter.
The event was doused with crowd interaction throughout as Jits whipped the audience into a flurry of call and response, sing alongs and naughty eruptions of laughter on the slow jam Kamer Soetmaak.
Moreover, the sheer entertainment value of Jitsvinger’s artistry on tracks like DoenIt and Breinsuiker were balanced on the darker Strategis, a reflection on the Trojan Horse Massacre of 1985 – a track that demonstrated his knack for dissecting and uncovering society’s vices (which I found especially profound in a time when so much rap music is a celebration of those ills).
On the whole, the Jitsologie EP launch was a success albeit somewhat tainted by bad sound engineering (or lack of a dedicated technician) which made it seem less of what it could have been (with frequent amounts of microphone feedback and an unnecessary break in run of play to correct it).
Jitsvinger’s next series of shows happen in the Netherlands as part of the SA Roadtrip: Celebrating Life Tour.
The Jitsvinger Jitsologie EP Launch happened at the District Six Homecoming Centre on 28 October 2017.