This week I thought I’d stray away from dead male rockstars, and talk about a group who are very much alive. Rather than discussing an album, I’ll be focusing on the group themselves, who are less like a band, and more like a movement. If you’ve never heard of Die Antwoord before, as I hadn’t until a few months ago, it’s going to be difficult to explain them, but I’ll give it a go. I first heard of Die Antwoord when they were announced to be performing at a festival I went to. I looked them up on Spotify while I was sat in the dark in my room (as per) and by the time I’d finished I felt like I was ready to either murder someone, or never leave the house again. The group – made up of (possible) husband and wife Yolandi Visser and Ninja – define their aesthetic as “ZEF NINJA RAP RAVE CREW”. In plain English, this roughly translates into aggressive rap over an EDM/techno/rave backing track, with Yolandi’s high-pitched, girlish singing sprinkled on top. Their overarching style, “Zef”, can be translated to a flattering version of “chav”, meaning, more than anything, that they don’t care what people think about them.
The reason I think that this band is worthy of a place on the Bucket Tracklist is mainly because I have never – and probably never will – seen anything like them before. Not only does their music defy strict definitions, but their general attitude is so far out that it’s not the usual pretentious “We’re so original” empty promises. In fact, they are so against being branded as mainstream that when Lady Gaga asked them to open up for her on tour, they went further than a simple no. Instead, they directed the music video for Fatty Boom Boom with a Gaga look-alike who eventually has to get a large cockroach removed from her vagina (which is presumably some sort of metaphor for fame), before getting mauled to death in her meat dress by the local lion.
She’s not the only one to fall prey to their disappointment; in their most recent video, Pitbull Terrier, Pitbull (the rapper) is mauled to death by Ninja who is terrifyingly dressed as a pitbull (the dog).
These creations, along with their others, are more like feature films than music videos, and often celebrate the weird and wonderful and sometimes downright scary things that fall within the brackets of “Zef”. While they can be a little overwhelming, they usually have something of note to say, whether it be about disability, racism, musical integrity, or the culture of South Africa, their home country. The thing I like about this group is that if you can get past all the strangeness, they have a lot to offer in terms of actually good music. My favourite, I Fink U Freeky, was one of the best songs I’ve seen live (there was literally sweat dripping from the roof of the dance tent) and the rest of the set was delivered with impressive energy. They manage to bring together all types of people who can revel in the otherness, who may not understand it, as I’m sure I don’t, but who can enjoy it anyway. All in all they may not have the reputation of Hendrix or the voice of Buckley, but they make up for it in other ways, and are definitely one to listen to before you die.