Die Antwoord is a South African rap-rave group consisting of Ninja, Yo-Landi Vi$$er, and DJ Hi-Tek, that became popular around 2010. Their name translates into “The Answer” in Afrikaans, but it’s not clear exactly what that suggests. Known for their racy and provocative music, they go for the shock effect. Yo-Landi, for example, has a one-of-a-kind hairstyle that shapes her neon blonde hair from shaved on the top, to a sort of mullet going down her back. Ninja, whose real name is Watkin Tudor Jones, has been in the music industry for a long time. He has had multiple characters, including Max Normal, MC Totally Rad, Destructo, and Waddy. However, Ninja claims Die Antwoord character is his final persona.
Their music samples catchy, but dark and demonic melodies and have been known rap their explicit lyrics in English, Afrikaans, and Xhosa. In the song, “Evil Boy” they use all three. Yo-Landi often presents herself as pale, with black eyes, surrounded by white rats. In fact, she has thirteen of them as pets. Their videos have included Marilyn Manson, Black Jack, the ATL Twins and Cara Delevine. They have been ridiculed in the past for their use of blackface but claim they are expressing their admiration of black, South African culture. In their song Dis iz Why I’m Hot, Ninja even slams the apartheid and modern racism.
Ninja and Yo-Landi have a child together, a girl named Sixteen, and she’s about ten now. Yo-Landi herself has a young boy named Tokkie, who she adopted off the streets four years ago. Ninja and Yolandi have presented themselves as a few different roles together, including brother-sister, cat-dog, pimp-whore, or lovers. They consider themselves the epitome of zef style, the slang term for the low-class flashy style that has been ruling South Africa, and are very open about smoking marijuana. Vice released a short documentary titled, Umshini Wam, that featured the duo and racked up about 3 million hits on YouTube.
As far as live performances go, they have been incredibly successful. They have had shows Moscow, Miami, and Cape Town, with collaborations from Deadmau5 and Azari & III. They use bright, neon lights, exotic dancing, and creepy imagery to give their audience a show like they’ve never seen before. Normally, they project their music videos onto the walls behind them and typically stick to the same choreography. Ninja is infamous for his excessive crowd surfing and, considering he only wears boxers, can be a little off-putting. Or exciting, depending on how you look at it.
Responses to their work have been mixed. Some are praising them for their creativity, labeling them geniuses, but others accuse them of being offensive thugs. All in all, they have a loyal and passionate fan-base that has spread like wildfire. Whether you agree with their style or not, you can’t deny that nothing like this has ever been seen before.
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