2 November 2010

Die Antwoord Is Conceptual Art

“Corporate giants can’t fuck with the link between our art and our clients”, one of the many recycled phrases in Waddy Jones’ arsenal. This middle class English-speaking white boy from Randburg has spent many years perfecting the art of rap but lyrical gymnastics alone won’t pay the bills. Keeping it real was ironically not his claim to fame, completely redefining his personality to a stereotypical white trash South African reflecting a prominent hardcore sub-culture was what got him there. “Ninja” is probably the only aspect of the zen loving individual that’s been carried through to Die Antwoord.

Controversial Afrikaans musician Koos Kombuis had a few things to say about Die Antwoord; pointing out their lack of vision, and nihilistic philosophy. Despite abundant Afrikaans lyrics, this is not Afrikaans music as Koos ashamedly assumes. In an article in the Los Angeles Times Chris Lee asks the question; “Is Die Antwoord punking the world? Or worse, is it conceptual art?”. My response; This is a project that’s taken Waddy years to research, refine and perfectly distill and it is an excellent example of conceptual art in my opinion. What makes it entertaining is the reactions it evokes, something Koos should be familiar with.

The track Evil Boy includes a verse with the phrase “Koos Kombuis se ma se poes”, i assume a response to his article. That verse has been completely removed in the official MP3 distributed by Rhythm Records (RhythmMusicStore.com) who also happens to distribute music by Koos Kombuis. If we are dealing with an artist rather than simply an entertainer then censorship to protect the interests of the record label is unacceptable especially when record companies are apparently falling over each other to sign them but even more so when the artist has openly declared disagreement to it. It’s the age old record label debate; will the artist sell out for a price?

The metamorphosis occurred in the days of MaxNormal.TV where the lyrics; “MaxNormal.TV is die fokken antwoord” occurs in a track titled “Ons is Hier”. The most dramatic evidence of the birth of Die Antwoord is in the track “Total Fuckup” where he raps the following; “Change my accent, make it more wild, total makeover, change my whole style” during which he changes his English accent to an Afrikaans one. Even as early as the original Max Normal days he says; “If i decide that i need a new host, somebody's pretty little shell’s gonna get a new ghost” in the track “Too Cold To Hold”.

In a world filled with pop idols, modern art and sudo-intellectuals it’s difficult to recognise a genuine artist that reflects society as it is rather than as it would like to be seen. Koos Kombuis awards them their “temporary success”, temporary may be the case if they were the mindless destructive group they portray but i think Die Antwoord will make a bigger dent than many predict. Waddy Jones is an artistic genius in my opinion, i sincerely hope to see ‘Constructus Corporation: The Ziggurat’ in anime form one day.