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Album Review: Die Antwoord – $0$

The surrealist artist Salvador Dali once said that “the one thing the world will never have enough of is the outrageous.” Enter Die Antwoord, a South African rave-rap posse whose music and videos can make even the most jaded digital boy quiver with desire and disgust. Comprised of MCs Ninja and Yolandi Vi$$er, along with DJ Hi-Tek, Die Antwoord has been enjoying worldwide fame since a video for their song “Enter the Ninja” blew up on YouTube last February, scoring millions of hits within days. The searing track, featuring Ninja’s machine gun rap style, is the first single off Die Antwoord’s major-label debut, $0$, which was just released October 12 by Interscope records.

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by Jed Minor (Production)
Email: cascade.arts [at] ufv [dot] ca

The surrealist artist Salvador Dali once said that “the one thing the world will never have enough of is the outrageous.” Enter Die Antwoord, a South African rave-rap posse whose music and videos can make even the most jaded digital boy quiver with desire and disgust. Comprised of MCs Ninja and Yolandi Vi$$er, along with DJ Hi-Tek, Die Antwoord has been enjoying worldwide fame since a video for their song “Enter the Ninja” blew up on YouTube last February, scoring millions of hits within days. The searing track, featuring Ninja’s machine gun rap style, is the first single off Die Antwoord’s major-label debut, $0$, which was just released October 12 by Interscope records.

Other tracks off of $0$ such as “$copie” and “Rich Bitch” highlight the delightfully squeaky vocal talents of Yolandi Vi$$er, hottie at large, and to my knowledge the first female hype-woman for an all male rap group. But then, it’s hard to explain Die Antwoord’s style. Try YouTube-ing their latest single, “Evil Boy,” which was produced by M.I.A.’s beat guru, Diplo.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get weirder, the video focuses on the phallus as an object to be feared and desired while tackling the issue of male circumcision as practiced by various South African tribal groups. South African MC Wanga is featured on track, and he raps in Xhosa (pronounced Co-sa), warning his fellow tribesman “don’t touch my penis,” and telling them “I am not a gay / this penis is for the girls.” These lines, which could be seen as homophobic, are really a protest against circumcision, which labels men who are not circumcised as “gay” and “evil.” Hence the title of the track; Wanga is seen as an “evil boy” by his tribe because he is not circumcised. The actual circumcision is done in the bush with a large knife and without anesthetic. Afterwards the penis is “disinfected” with ash from a fire. This horrific practice results in many men dying or becoming impotent.

The track itself is pure fire, and it is exciting to see and hear the perfect alchemy of Die Antwoord’s raps with the world-class production of a beat-maker of Diplo’s status.

Die Antwoord is currently on a world tour featuring many North American stops. Unfortunately, their Vancouver show was on October 12 at The Commodore, and if you were not there, you might have to wait awhile to see them again. They are currently working on a new album tentatively-titled Tension, which, according to Ninja, will have pop sensibilities, along with their usual rave-rap style and be accompanied by the singing of African choirs. I can’t really imagine what it will sound like, but in the ever more played-out world of rap, this is definitely a good thing.

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