Thursday, October 21, 2010

Die Antwoord, "$O$"

Is it real? Or is it a very elaborate hipster joke? Those are the questions that lingered around South African outfit Die Antwoord when they first crashed the scene. From their manic mélange of old-school rave rhythms to the colloquialism-filled rhymes of rappers Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er, their sound and aesthetic is insistently unusual. Still, the band’s culture collision runs surprisingly deep. Alluding to such obscure sounds as hip-house beats, South African “zef” culture and the ruthless machismo of gangster rap, Die Antwoord is so anti-cool it veers perilously close to parody. Blending lyrics English with lyrics sung in the Afrikaans language, songs like “Evil Boy” could fill most underground dance floors, even though it’s about forced male circumcision on pubescent boys in certain South African tribes. This major label version of $O$ is an update on a free album the band distributed digitally in 2009. New songs like “In Your Face” find the band’s production style maturing without losing their signature lawless energy. While only time will tell if their appeal can transcend their current of-the-moment buzz, it’s safe to say that Die Antwoord is definitely no joke.

(Originally published on