by Red Cell
Ninja, DJ Hi-Tek and Yo-Landi Vi$$er of Die Antwoord (The Answer) are the new Anti-Heroes of the Kaapse Afrikaans scene in South Africa. Equal parts true streets music and tongue in cheek parody, this group is starting what they call Next Level Rap-Rave with their krew, often featuring live guests Mitchell’s Plain gangster rappers and a DJ with progeria syndrome.
Their fans are serious, and occasionally violently so. Rumor has it that they enjoy punching people in the face for no good reason at shows. Die Antwoord only debuted a few months ago, but they are steadily gaining ground in the global hip-hop sub-culture as well as the fashion and freak kulture scenes. They site the taxi cabs of South Africa as their main inspiration, with their booming, high energy beats that vibrate throughout the vehicles. They call style (or flavour) Zef, meaning, beyond fucking cool, untouchable.
Ninja is a self described rap-rave master. His tats tell his tales almost as eloquently as he does, both in the statements (Pretty Wise / How Can An Angel Break My Heart?) as well as their poorly done prison/streets-like scrawls. Yo-Landi Vi$$er has a sex-pot, bottled-blonde appeal, but holds her own both vocally and gangsta-wise. Her low brow, gold spandex fashion sense had already had an effect on their followers, fans dressing in couture they wouldn’t have been caught dead in a year ago. Plus, she’s just fucking hot. DJ Hi-Tek builds beats something close to a cross between Spankrock and Electroclash. He never seems to say anything, preferring to let his rhythms speak for themselves.
What was the last band you can think of that came from South Africa? Exactly. This may be the first real musical import from SA, excluding world music, since forever. One can only hope this begins a new trend! Just listen to these lyrics, “She has two nice boobs / and a penis too.” Who doesn’t want more of that?
This is not an entirely new sound, all the elements are taken from things you know. But, it is uniquely theirs. They own it. Let’s just hope that their co-opting of the hip-hop and rave cultures doesn’t get co-opted too soon by Hot Topic.
bOINGbOING just led me to a South African article about how Die Antwoord isn’t making a dime on their new-found popularity. Here is a bit of the article and the link to the whole thing below:
“Something fucking strange has fucking happened,” Jones tells the crowd in Durbanville, explaining that the group’s server (which hosts its entire upcoming album free for the listening) had served more than a terabyte of data in the previous two days. “If it was a Souf Efrican server I’d have to sell my father, sell my mother’s house,” he says, in reference to the high price of bandwidth in South Africa.
The group won’t be bearing the cost of its sudden popularity; that is being taken care of by companies like Google. Its music videos are streamed by Google-owned YouTube, and most of the discussion about it happens on Facebook and Twitter or third-party blogs and news websites. Its own server is hosted in the USA, the land of milk and honey and bandwidth so cheap it’s nearly free. Its demo CDs are created on a home computer at a price that can be measured in cents per unit, and even its very slick and highly stylised videos were made for next to nothing.
But neither is the group making any money out of the phenomenon. All its music is free for the taking and it has no merchandise to sell. It runs no advertising on its website, and doesn’t get a cut of whatever revenues Facebook or Google generate. While millions of people were enjoying their music, they were splitting the door take at the house. At a couple of thousand rands a piece for a couple of hours work that is money many starving artists wouldn’t sneer at, but it’s hardly the big time.