Review: Die Antwoord

You either love them or you hate them!

August 10, 2013  |  By Jerome Heath, United Kingdom

Review: Die Antwoord

Photo : Wikimedia Commons

I can’t tell if Die Antwoord are a poor parody of a rap group, or an intangible art exhibition, representing the post-apartheid slum culture of South Africa, with one massive, hard hitting, pump of the fist.

They claim to be neither. In a Youtube interview constructed in January 2011, the front man Ninja, or Watkin Tudor Jones, was asked the question ‘Would you say Die Antwoord is conceptual art?’ He replied simply, in a scornful tone of voice ‘… we’re a rap group from South Africa’. While Yo-Landi Vi$$er, the front woman, queried ‘what is conceptual?’

Are they an act? If they are, they’re playing it very well. Ninja and Yo-Landi do a fantastic job of looking like morons, giving the whole comedy duo feel, making the audience face palm every little thing that they say, while at the same time, showing a bizarre level of class. Even if you don’t like their ‘zef’ rap-rave style music, with explicit lyrics and the obvious sexualisation of Ninja and the ‘sexpot’ Yo-Landi, you can still easily acquire a sense of thrill out of them.

Zef is the word that they use to describe themselves. Coming from an Afrikaans word, Zef refers to ‘common’ or even ‘white trash’. Jack Parow, another South African zef-rapper, described the culture as, ‘kind of like posh, but the opposite of posh’. While Yo-Landi Vi$$er was quoted saying, ‘it’s associated with people who soup their cars up and rock gold and stuff. Zef is, you’re poor but you’re fancy. You’re poor but you’re sexy, you’ve got style.’

Die Antwoord obviously have originality and persona. They look different, they sound different and that’s quite a refreshing thing in the rap scene. Maybe they are the ‘next level’ like they claim to be.

They hit fame on the world’s biggest stage, the internet in 2009 with their Youtube music video Enter the Ninja. It was catchy and stupid, but most of all, laughable. ‘Look at me, now! All up in the interweb. Worldwide!’ raps Ninja and that, I think, was his master plan. He wanted publicity and popularity, after the failure of his previous rap project, alongside Yo-Landi, MaxNormal TV.

MaxNormal TV was a simple electronic rap group, all about music and rhymes, but that didn’t work out for them. They were only really known in Cape Town, so they formed Die Antwoord and hit it big time. But at what cost did it take to achieve this fame?

I can’t answer that, but does it really matter? As Ninja said, they’re just a South African rap group. They’re fun and they may or may not be ‘for real’, but they have a unique style and they have character. Yo-Landi’s a chipmunk, with a mullet (and I must say, she pulls it off) and Ninja looks like a taller version of Eminem, but South African, with more tattoos and two silver canines. But that’s what they’re all about. They’re Die Antwoord and you either love them, or you hate them.


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