The first time I watched ‘Enter the Ninja’ I said it was the worst thing I’d ever seen. In my rush to condemn Ninja and his cohort as aggressively stupid, an easy mistake to make, I missed the point: I forgot to have fun. South-African lovechild of performance artist Watkin Tudor Jones (formerly Max Normal, Ninja now) and partner Yo-landi Visser (Vi$$er), Die Antwoord’s debut will make your head spin. Equal parts hip-hop and rave, each track sees Ninja and Vi$$er throwing rhymes and sing-song choruses over startlingly diverse arrangements by shadow-member DJ Hi-Tek, jumping genre to genre, beat to beat, multiple times per track. Vi$$er has a haircut like an overturned cereal bowl and a voice like a deranged Care-Bear. Ninja is covered in crude tattoos and shoves more explicit syllables (English and Afrikaans! Rhymed or not!) into any given verse than Eminem on a sugar-rush – and if it all seems remarkably crude, you’re onto something: it’s a joke. Or rather, it’s “Zef”: Die Antwoord’s fictional-alter-ego style is a sort of Cape Town suburban gangster, frolicking in bombastic sexuality and hilarious, overblown braggadocio. This makes their Youtube videos a (seriously nsfw) must. Falling somewhere between daringly stupid and shockingly proficient, Die Antwoord is all about fun, and they might even be the most straight-faced satire of hip-hop culture you’ll ever see. It is incredibly difficult to tell. $0$ is fascinatingly weird and entertaining as hell, so abandon rationality and indulge your Zef Side.
Originally published in The Peak, October 2010.