An extract from Hagen Engler’s new novel, In The Maid’s Room
By Hagen Engler
“My lyrics are loony. I’m PE’s George Clooney. Even Miss PE wants to do me. I’m hooked on porno movies. Had 14 tabs open at last count. Is that a bad amount? Yeah yeah! Come on, Club Tonite! Can I get a yeah-yeah? Yeah yeah! You can do better than that! All the people in the back, gimme a yeah-yeah! Yeah yeah! The people in the front! Gimme a yeah-yeah! Yeah yeah!”
The TV lights have created a pool of searing heat in the centre of the dance floor, so the rest of Club Tonite is gloomier than ever. They’ve made the better-looking people, the best dressed, and the sexy coloured babes in their towelling track pants, they’ve made them come stand in the light and dance while the MCs have their turn. But there’s only about twenty of them here in the light. The rest of the crew are all lurking somewhere in the inky gloom.
Club Tonite’s colours are purple and black. That’s what makes it so inky. I can sense them out there, though, judging me. I don’t care about the judges. I know about Mr Phat, but the other two I’ve never heard of in my life anyway.
It’s the punters, the locals, these are proper Port Elizabeth hiphop heads. They know this stuff, and they’re lurking in the purply dark, in their trucker caps, and their oversize hoodies, and their designer jeans and judging me. Scheming, who’s this poes? What does he know about hip-hop? When’s he ever here in the club on hip-hop night? When’s he ever here when it’s the normal cypher? Why he only comes now when it’s the TV here? He only want to be famous, this white guy. He don’t want to be part of hip-hop.
All of which is flat-out true.
This is only my second time at Club Tonite and the other time wasn’t hip-hop night, it was for old Ready’s birthday. Shame, the oke was still new in town then, so we took him out for a skop. There were strippers here that time.
These hip-hop heads are just about buying it. Just about. Giving me a chance. Me and Mouse are the only white guys in the place, but it doesn’t feel like I’m quite pulling off an 8 Mile here.
The beat they’ve given me sounds like something out of early Jay-Z, ‘Ride or Die’ kind of steez. Lots of high-hats on it. You can ride it, and pretty much fit your words in…
“Yeah come on! I get caught wanking by the maid, because I don’t get laid, because I don’t get paid, because I don’t have it made, because my daddy was a self-made man, not anodda one o’dem damn third or fourth-gen men of means! Ya know what I mean? Nah’mean!”
Mouse tries throwing in a couple of yeah-yeahs, but when it starts sounding like he’s the only one doing it, he stops. They give me sixteen bars and then cut the music. At least I got the full sixteen.
“It’s interesting what you doing,” Mr Phat tunes me. He’s the first of the judges to judge me. “But you’ve got to come from somewhere, my brother. You’ve got to school yourself in the history of hip-hop. And the culture and that...”
“…Ja!” MC Mentality chimes in. “Where did you hear that kind of rhymes about wanking? What hip-hop talks about wanking? You can’t just choose some words that rhymes and then say what you want! You’ve got to respect the culture! And besides… this is a family show. It’s a no from me. From you too, Phat?”
Of course it’s a no from Phat.
“Ja,” tunes Mouse in the car, as I try gather myself on the drive up Mount Road back to the Swamp. “I thought that one about getting bust wanking by the maid was going to be bit much, hey. The room seemed to go a bit quiet after you dropped that one.”
“I’m just trying to push the envelope, Mouse! Don’t the okes understand? I’m tryna take it to the edge. Why does everybody haveto rhyme about rhyming? It’s about time more people rhymed about real shit, like, like…”
“Like wanking? Have you actually been caught wanking by the maid? By who? By Florence? Yussis. I’d be bleak if she caught me wanking, bra.”
“No, man, Mouse! I haven’t been caught wanking by Florence. It was in school days. A other maid. I forget what her name was. I tried to quickly pretend I was looking for piles, but I think she was onto me.”
“Ja… So… what’s next? Are you still gonna try, you know…”
“Try be famous? Of course! There’s dozens of other ways. So the hip-hop show probably didn’t work. But there’s still Big Brother, Idols, Specialist, those cooking ones…”
“Bra, you can’t cook!” “Ha! Well I can’t rap either, and look how far I got in this thing… The Cypher with Samsung. Regional battle. They’ll broadcast that thing still. You’ll check. I’ll be on TV.”
“Ja, but. That’s not the same as being famous.”
“Sometimes it is!”
“Not this time. Not for being knocked out in the first round of Samsung Cypher for rapping about wanking. You don’t wanna get famous for that, bru!
“Bra! Can you not see I’m hurting here? Can you not see I’m digging deep? I’ve just been publicly humiliated. I’m trying to pull myself together. Do you know how much it takes out of you to do what I just did? You’re my bra. You supposed to support me, ek sê! Not remind me about the humiliation.”
“You humiliated yourself, Disco!”
You can find Hagen Engler's new novel 'In The Maid's Room' at all fine bookstores.