Die Antwoord don’t need much of an introduction. A trail of controversy has been left in their wake since their debut music video “Enter the Ninja” appeared on our screens for the first time in 2009. The video reached such a level of popularity on the internet that the original hosting provider of the video in South Africa had to move the video to a US-based provider to handle the amount of viewers who wanted to see this new South African phenomenon. Since then the trio – consisting of Ninja, Yo-landi Vi$$er and DJ Hi-Tek – have performed all over the world.
With the release of their international debut, $o$, they have cemented their popularity worldwide. The video for the current single “Evil Boy” was released on YouTube a few weeks ago and has caused quite a stir. Be warned: it’s definitely not for the faint of heart or easily offended. The song, in typical Die Antwoord style. mixes subtle social commentary with rap-rave sounds. Unfortunately, the message is so obscured by the use of curse words and images of penises and breasts that, chances are, you’ll stand up from your computer screen feeling shocked rather than pensive.
Overall, the album has been successful in terms of charting, landing at number 109 on the US national charts and with the single “Evil Boy” already in the top 10 of the UK charts. Most people are still not sure what Die Antwoord are about, though. While some think they might be some kind of joke the South Africa music industry is pulling on the world, Ali G style, others think they are just amazing. Their Facebook group boasts over 160 000 friends with people as far as Belgium begging the group for a tour in their country.
$O$ is pure zef from start to finish. The lyrics are mostly shocking (as always) with the “p-bomb” being dropped regularly. They sing about fame and fortune and their rise to fame as the song “Rich Bitch”, that tells Vi$$er’s story, depicts. The lyrics are accompanied by the upbeat psychedelic sounds of DJ Hi-Tek. He has a talent for creating music that stays stuck in your head, which, combined the group’s mixing of “die taal” (with both Afrikaans and English lyrics) really makes for an interesting listen. For a laugh listen to the skit “My Best Friend” and for some awesome beats fast forward to the end of the track “Doos Dronk” to listen to the bonus track.
The feeling you are left with after listening to the album is not a very positive one, though. It is almost as if Die Antwoord are trying too hard to be different, up to the point where the message they are trying to send gets lost. But who’s to judge when the world is bowing down in front of Ninja and Yo-landi’s now gold-plated feet? They have brought something new to the rap music scene and, good or bad, it definitely is controversial and is that not what our generation finds most intriguing? The question, it seems, is not who they are or what they are thinking, but how shocking the next release will be.