The South African rap-rave internet star known as The Ninja grabs my face by the cheeks. He leans forward and stares into my eyes, like a large savannah predator about to inhale a hamster.
“And that’s what I did to Jimmy Iovine,” he says. “He didn’t seem to like it, but nobody told me it wasn’t cool to do that. And then I kissed him on each cheek, because we were making a deal like you do with the mafia. Die Antwordis in business with Interscope now.”
“I’m not skinny like this by choice,” he says, huddled over the table in a Ren and Stimpy hoodie adorned with John Kricfalusi doodles. “We had no money forever. Now, we’re flying business class to America, and look at me, I’m eating berries and granola in Hollywood.”
Ninja is in LA for the first time, joined by his creative partner Yolandi Visser (who’s sleeping in this morning, upstairs in the hotel), and their “consigliere” Jay.
“When we did the big meeting with Interscope, Jimmy Iovine was telling me all about how badly their business has been harmed by the internet,” Ninja says, sipping black coffee. ” I can understand that but I said, ‘Jimmy, I want to give you a piece of samurai advice: Become the enemy.”
The band’s forthcoming debut album $O$, streaming in entirety on their website for free, is the first of 5 albums they plan to release. A sort of documentary film is in the works, too. “It’s like an hour-long introduction to a music video, like Thriller, only you can eat popcorn while you watch it at the cinema,” he says.
After breakfast, they’re off to meet one of their creative heroes, the director and curator of high weirdness David Lynch.
“I used to smoke a lot of weed,” Ninja says. “Then I got my hands on a David Lynch Twin Peaks box set, and I watched the whole thing in one sitting, and it blew my mind. Special Agent Dale Cooper said something about pot being bad for you, and that convinced me that maybe I shouldn’t smoke pot anymore. All of this now might be a little harder to take if I were.”
“This the only thing I can do, I can’t do anything else,” Ninja continues. “It is what I love, and all I have ever wanted to do in my life. Now that all of this—” he gestures toward Hollywood boulevard, as a truck carrying leftover Academy Awards props cruises by”—now that this is happening to us, it’s overwhelming because you also realize that it could disappear right away. “
“I don’t know what that’s going to mean. But for now, I just know that we have a film to make, and albums to record, and shows to play.”
“It’s not bad.”
The only thing i have to say is: PLEASE INTERSCOPE….PLEASE DON’T FUCK THIS UP!