I just watched an insane movie called Chappie, so this week you’re going to listen to some Die Antwoord.
Die Antwoord (‘the answer’) are hard to describe. They’re usually referred to as a ‘rap-rave’ group, but that really only scratches the surface. The principle members, Ninja and Yo-Landi Visser, are two white South African lowlifes who espouse the idea of ‘zef’, a Afrikaans slang term that means something like a white equivalent of ‘ghetto fabulous’. Along with the mysterious (and possibly apocryphal) DJ Hi-Tek, they make over-the-top club rap in a mix of English and Afrikaans that embraces every ridiculous trope of the genre — all accompanied by some of the most insane music videos ever committed to film.
…except that’s not really the whole story either. Digging beyond the initial weirdness yields no answers, only more weirdness. Ninja and Yo-Landi seem to have a Jack and Meg White sort of relationship — they have a daughter, but it’s not really clear if they’re dating, if they ever have dated, or even when they first met. They’ve both been involved in various other hip hop and art projects before Die Antwoord, and the pair seem to have both attended and later dropped out of art school at some point. Zef doesn’t seem to have really even been a thing before Die Antwoord, or at least not as they portray it. When the band was first blowing up, all of this led a lot of music journalists to write a lot of tiring essays about what Die Antwoord actually is. Is it a prank? Is it performance art? Is it insensitive cultural appropriation? Are they even a ‘real band’? What does ‘real band’ even mean? Do any of these questions matter to anyone who isn’t a music journalist?
I have my own thoughts on Die Antwoord — and even more on the absolutely bonkers aforementioned Neill Blomkamp film in which they star as ‘themselves’ — but I’m interested in hearing yours. Of course, if I just had you listen to an album, you’d be missing out on probably the most striking component of the band, which is their videos. So, in lieu of an album, I’ve put together a selected videography for you to peruse. (A viewing of Chappie afterward is optional, but encouraged.)
Sit back. Relax. Set your YouTube window to fullscreen. And hold on tight.