Who are Die Antwoord?
Something I find moderately entertaining is introducing Die Antwoord to unsuspecting friends and seeing the reaction which the unusual South African rap duo evokes. Disgust, typically squirming and frequentjaw dropping. Their music videos make TV series American Horror Story look like child’s play. From bathing in viscous black fluid to urinating in an all-girls orphanage and a fascination with rats, Die Antwoord's videos capture you with a kind of morbid curiousity. It’s twisted but before you know it you’re hooked.
Due to Die Antwoord’s extreme nature they tend to have a Marmite effect. Personally I find it a refreshing change from the regurgitated pop artists whose bland music blurs into a generic bubble. However, many are opposed to the group seeing their mindless and destructive attitudes representative of a nihilistic philosophy and a fake persona. Yet it’s hard for even the critics to deny that they challenge the idea of music and performance art and some have gone as far as to call them conceptual artists. They certainly commit to their image and this extends to the movie screen in their roles in 2015 film Chappie where both Ninja and Yolandi play metafictional characters of themselves who train a rogue robot to be a gangster. They certainly can’t be faulted for being consistently erratic and predictably unpredictable.
Die Antwoord is formed of rappers Ninja and Yolandi Visser and then producer ‘God’ (formerly known as DJ Hi-Tek)
Many people refer to Die Antwoord to being like lady gaga on acid. However, there's been a lot of shade thrown around between the two artists. In 2013 Gaga asked them to open for her, Die Antwoord's response? In one of their music videos 'Fatty boom boom', Lady gaga was savaged by lions whilst wearing that signature meat dress. It’s safe to say that they don’t exactly see eye to eye after that.
Unlike Gaga, Die Antwoord aren’t concerned about being in the charts and maybe this is part of the fuel for their underestimated success. Many people underestimated the dent Die Antwood would have put in the cultural landscape, dismissing them as a silly fad. But it seems that their commitment to image and even to conceptual art has allowed them to establish themselves as a brand. They are becoming more and more well-known, playing mainstages at festivals such as Boomtown this weekend.
A lot of Die Antwoord's music and image has its roots inthe countermovement of ‘Zef’ in South Africa. It’s hard to describe what exactly Zef is and it roughly translates as ‘common’ but it is basically what Die Antwoord image is based around and thus they have popularized the movement. Yolandi and Ninja have explained it in interviews explaining it as not having money but still being bling. It’s about having an attitude and being ‘street’.
Seeing Die Antwoord at Reading festival in 2016 is one of my favorite live music experiencess to date, but is definitely not for the faint-hearted. They are the reason I am going to Boomtown this weekend. With Die Antwoord now owning their own record label, there are big things in store as they continue to shock with their art and propogate their image of Zef culture.