In Memorium – Jacques ‘Jaak Spraak’ Jacobs (1975 – 2017) FeaturedWritten by Shameema Williams
To quote POC, “Ek ken ‘n anne kêrel, van Pêrel se werel…” Sy naam was Jaak. Jaak Spraak.
One of my favourite memories of Jaak was in 2006 during the recording of ‘Kom Op’ for Jitsvinger’s debut album Skeletsleutel at our High Voltage Studio in Woodstock.
It was his first major break outside of Paarl, the first of much collaboration that followed, since everyone in the city wanted to work with him. Maybe because his Afrikaans sounded different, born and bred on the ‘wrong’ side of the Berg River, where the middle finger of Afrikaans proudly stands erected as a monumental reminder of colonial subjugation.
“I called him and played the beat through my cellphone. For all of like 20 seconds. The next day he took a train to the studio (from Huguenot to Woodstock) and perfectly rounded off ‘Kom Op’. Our last conversation was not so long ago where we spoke about a follow-up to that collabo. Rus in Paradys (R.I.P) Jaak” - Jitsvinger
He bit a line from me on that track that day and I still don’t know if it was as an ode to me or if he was making fun of my ‘gam’! Each time after that when I bumped into him, he would bow down and call me ‘godin’ and I’d curtsy in response; because to me, HE was one of the Afrikaans gods of hiphop. Although, what struck me the most about Jaak, was an immense humility and respect that is very rare amongst the heads I know in this ego-driven hiphop scene. Jaak was amongst the finest Afrikaans lyricists that came up during the new millenium; but more importantly, he always carried himself like a true gentleman.
“The main thing about Jaak that stood out for me was his respect for others, willingness to listen, learn and share. Everyone in the scene that met him, will miss him dearly.” Emile XY
“He always listened to people, which is such a rare thing. He had strong opinions but always wanted to learn from others and soak up their life experiences. He absorbed everything. He had a big heart and cared about people and their struggles.” D-Planet
“I will remember Jaak as a creative soul with zero ego. Before his Frans EP he approached me to discuss his self-produced album and it is during that time I got to work closely with him. Although the album will never see the light of day, it made me an even bigger fan and I will be forever thankful for the time spent, insights gained and honoured to have known one of the most creative Afrikaans hiphop artists of our time.” DJ Azuhl
Many emotions have been evoked through his passing, mostly a sense of frustration that artists like Jaak never get the recognition they deserve, that the industry consistently overlooks talent from the Cape and even more so, from the Boland. True as it may be, something needs to be said for the tenacity and drive of artists such as Jaak, Cream, Isaac Mutant, Hemelbesem, Youngsta and Linkris who embrace the something from nothing mentality embedded in hiphop and put themselves out there, against all industry odds.
“Not many recognize his work or felt his worth to the hiphop community. Jaak was a lyrical marksman and brother to fellow mc’s with his boundless use of the Afrikaans language. His wordplay is still unmatched to this day! He was extremely dedicated to adding to the canon of songs and literature, repping Paarl to the fullest.” Jitsvinger
With an impressive discography of material, created with little to no resources, he produced a plethora of work which challenged colonial ideas of language, identity and the social construct of his community. The Africa Unsigned EP Ongerep, while politically charged and inspired by radical literature and nationwide strikes, invokes an urgent plea to our people to become more proactive in our transformation. He said, “We are very loyal consumers and this fact makes for a very happy white elite. The people need revolution otherwise we’ll be stuck in this destructive cycle for decades to come. Apartheid is still here.”
Jaak’s rugged determination and fervent passion for change in the lives of the disenfranchised can be heartbreakingly felt on my favourite track, Sweet, off the album, Flêtse Maniere. While he weaves in and out of rhyme and verse, with syllables and phrases I am still trying to decode, he maps the root of our people’s pain and attempts to clear a path for progress.
“I have a deeper purpose than just rap” Jaak Spraak, Cape Argus 2012
“He was a consummate professional and a massive talent who cared deeply about representing the brown people of the Western Cape. He wanted people to feel proud of their roots and culture, especially through Afrikaans, which he used with such skill that, in time, I have no doubt his lyrics will be studied in universities and text books. ” D-Planet
Having mainly worked with super producers D-Planet (Pioneer Unit) and Hipe, they made it possible for his music to extend beyond the mountains of the Boland to all over the country and as far afield as Europe. Pioneer Unit was Jaak’s creative home, a space which allowed him the freedom to express himself unapologetically, with no bars held! The astounding repertoire of work delivered by the trio may not have garnered many sales but will forever be a testament to the artistic prowess of an indelible mc, perhaps only reaching his prime over these last few releases, namely, Flêtse Maniere, Frans and Gielie.
“Jaak and I shared some amazing experiences that will last forever in my memory. It was an honour to share some amazing stages with him on tour around Europe, often in front of huge crowds. I remember so clearly the energy and passion he always gave. I can still see him delivering powerful, technically perfect performances, lost in the meaning of his words, shaking his dreads and dripping with sweat. His energy and his smile were always infectious. ” D-Planet
“Jaak was the most original artist I have been lucky enough to work with. He always came across as someone who enjoyed learning new things. I worked with him on his Flêtse Maniere album, his enthusiasm when recording was infectious; he made it easy to tap into his energy and music. Jaak and the world deserve more of each other” DJ Raiko
Through the memory of others in the movement, Jaak Spraak is, “The voice that rose up from Paarl. His skill demanded that people respect the artform as a powerful expression. His dedication to each delivery showed a drive to deliver his best each time he contributed a verse.” Emile XY
“Originality personified. His style is somewhat awkward and offbeat but that is exactly what makes him brilliant because he introduced new rhyme schemes with Afrikaans, which is not an easy thing to do. It’s a pity I will never have the opportunity to create music with him. He is a great loss to the hiphop community.” - Linkris Da Genius
To the family of Jacques Jacobs, on behalf of myself, the hiphop community and my former crew Godessa, we send our sincerest condolences and would like for them to know through the words of everyone in this article that Jaak was respected, loved and admired by us all. We may not have known him as blood, but we honour his memory as part of the hiphop family of Cape Town.
Thank you for raising such a beautiful soul and for sharing him with us. R.I.P Jaak Spraak.
Jacques Jacobs will be laid to rest on Sat the 10th June at 9am at the Bethel Congregational Church, Evan Street, Paarl.
All flowers, cards, personal condolences and donations may be sent to:
9 Francis Sever Street
Ms. D. Jacobs
Diane Jacobs (Mother)
From the rest of us at Bruinou.com, we would like to extend our sincerest condolences to the family, friends, colleagues and fans of Jaak Spraak.
We also want to extend a heartfelt thanks to bruinou.com contributor Shameema Williams for going the extra mile in compiling a truly beautiful tribute for this Beloved Hip Hop Royal.
RIP Jaak Spraak - Your Music Will Live Forever
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21 May 2019