Watkin Tudor Jones (born 26 September 1974), currently known by his stage name Ninja, is a South African rapper, record producer, performance artist and satirist. Previously, he has recorded under several different names, Max Normal and MC Totally Rad being some of the most prominent.
Watkin Tudor Jones was a part of South African hip-hop scene for many years, fronting such acts as The Original Evergreens, MaxNormal.TV and The Constructus Corporation. He is known for adopting different stage personas. He currently co-fronts the group Die Antwoord under the name Ninja.
Jones has released several albums under different guises (including the Sibot-produced The Fantastic Kill and Markus Wormstorm-produced promo-only EP "Emmanuel Rothchild - My Favourite Songs" and "Markus Wormstorm Is Not Gay"), and expanded into graphic art, stuffed animal making, and other aspects of his creativity. He has a daughter named Sixteen with Yolandi Visser, who is also a frequent collaborator.
He now lives in Cape Town, and comes from Johannesburg where he attended Parktown Boys' High School. Jones left school in 1992, one year before graduating.
Jones was the lead vocalist of Max Normal, a live hip hop act, which released their debut and only album entitled Songs From The Mall in 2001. The band performed at various festivals around South Africa, including Up the Creek, Splashy Fen, and Oppikoppi. They also played in London and three shows at the Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium. A second version of this band evolved into the 'corporate' hip-hop group MaxNormal.tv in which they released an album, Good Morning South Africa," in 2008 with a sound not unlike the latter formed and more well-known group "Die Antwoord." They were a South African hip-hop crew that performed live wearing three-piece suits while frontman MaxNormal delivered his motivational speaking style raps to the audience. He also illustrated his lyrics to help the audience follow which were projected onto a big screen above the live performers and are triggered live to the beat by Max's personal assistant, Yolandi Visser, in a PowerPoint presentation style.
In early 2002, Jones disbanded Max Normal, just as the band was reaching South African stardom, headlining festivals like Oppikoppi and charting on 5FM (citing being creatively stifled as reason). He relocated to Cape Town and began collaborating with DJ Dope of Krushed & Sorted and Felix Laband on the music for a multi-media project he had conceptualised involving a graphic novel with soundtrack and live show. These sessions spawned the Man Who Never Came Back track on African Dope's 'Cape Of Good Dope' compilation in 2002, but gradually mutated into The Constructus Corporation outfit. Yolandi Visser, listed as Anica The Snuffling on the credits, was also involved.
The Constructus Corporation:
When Jones disbanded Max Normal in early 2002, he and long-time DJ partner Sibot invited Markus Wormstorm and Felix Laband to collaborate on his ambitious The Constructus Corporation project, which resulted in the concept album / graphic novel The Ziggurat (ADOPECD009 African Dope Records 2002).
After a production process including mix and master by Krushed & Sorted, in December 2002 "The Ziggurat" was released. This is an 88-page pink hard-covered book containing a hand-written hiphop fantasy story by Jones, which follows the adventures of two kids on a giant futuristic floating world / shopping mall called The Ziggurat, with detailed etched digital illustrations by artist Nikhil Singh, a soundtrack CD on which Jones plays several different characters, and a bonus blank CD at the back of the book with instructions on where to download an entire second album of music and narrations for free, with which to fill the CD. The Constructus Corporation disbanded in early 2003.
Tudor-Jones' current project is rap-rave group Die Antwoord in which he records under the pseudonym "Ninja", along with Yo-landi Vi$$er and DJ Hi-Tek. The band self-identifies as a melange of several diverse cultures all mixed into one. Die Antwoord toured Europe in April 2010 and the USA later that same year. Their debut album $O$ was made available as a free download on their official website. In late 2009 South African cinematographer Rob Malpage co-directed (with Waddy), co-produced (with Left Films and Die Antwoord) and lensed the video for their single "Enter the Ninja." The promo became a viral video on the internet nine months later, delivering millions of hits to the official Die Antwoord website, eventually crashing the website's server. The video also features South African progeria sufferer Leon Botha, a prominent Cape Town artist. Die Antwoord performs "Zef" music, zef being a South African slang term that describes a unique South African style which is modern while including out-of-date, discarded cultural and style elements. Their lyrics are funny and explicit, and performed in both Afrikaans and English. Members of the band consider themselves as hip hop artists, but specifically refer to their music as zef rap-rave.
Both Vi$$er and Ninja are vegetarian according to a 2012 interview.