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.


David Budimir said...

This really clears it up for me. I am much more impressed with the group after reading this. Its amazing how seriously they take these personas when they are being interviewed. You were specific to Ninja here, but is Yolandi in on it as well? Have you heard about Lil B. The rapper seems to be doing a a similar think, poking fun at the genre, hes not just a joke either. Great post. www.spmnd.com

Andrew Craucamp said...

Thanks David, to be honest i don't actually know much about Yolandi but i have reason to believe that there's a lot more to her than meets the eye. Never heard of Lil B but i'll definately check out some videos sometime.

Viral MediaCa said...

Great article , thanks , opened my eyes on the matter. IM A NINJA !

Pierre Marais said...

This is something I picked up too that besides the obvious that Die Antwoord are acting and it's all conceptual art, there is a much deeper message and agenda they're got planed here. After doing some research and watching their older videos, I picked up a few things that seemed like a complete contradiction to their white trash image they're selling. For example both Ninja and Yolandi are vegetarians and don't drink alcohol. Also in their older works, there is a lot of symbolism and messages teaching spirituality and there is one interview where Yolandi mentions she is practicing opening her third eye and learning to become a physic - also on the side she writes romance novels.

I've read a lot of reviews saying they're a satanic cult, with all of the devil symbolism, pentagrams and blasphemy. But in one of their tracks Ninja says "2 defeat deze devilz ninja bcomez a devil" which to me says something about their real agenda. I think what they're trying to do is show the evil in the world and throw it in your face, and also mocking the current music industry and showing us what it has become. Also the symbolism of the $0$ tattoo - save our souls, and the yin and yang tattoo - good and evil seems like it's all part of the true message about spiritual awareness.

I think these two are brilliant creative minds, who are thinking on another level, almost completely in an abstract way. And are able to bounce around and play with reality and adopt various personas to communicate their message. I just don't think the general population will get it though, and are just reveling in it's dark themes. Just seems abit crazy how far they've gone with this. But my feeling is they're message will slowly be revealed, perhaps they're trying to climb high to the top first and then hit us with something big. I heard they're working on a 1hr feature film, so perhaps this is when they'll unveil what the Answer really is. Keep an eye on these two!

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