"I'm like all these different people fucked into one person."
February 1, 2010 12:15 AM   Subscribe

Die Antwoord is a "next-level rap-rave krew" from South Africa. Their incredible video, Enter the Ninja, is probably the best introduction to the group. The group consists of a white MC named Ninja, his mulleted wife Yo-Landi Vi$$er, and DJ Hi-Tek (aka Leon Botha), a painter who at 24 one of the oldest living sufferers of progeria syndrome. Further viewing: Zef Side.

Vice magazine writes, "since debuting earlier this year they’ve wrangled up an aggressively dedicated legion of fans who generally shout along to every single track at live shows, punch random strangers in the face and then pass out in a steaming puddle of Jägermesiter vomit. Do the disgruntled Afrikaans youth of our land have a new pair of anti-heroes to worship?"
posted by meadowlark lime (68 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Count me as jaded, but that was so fucking cheesy I laughed out loud! "Graffiti" backdrops with contrasting clothes? Weird midget in dark room? A fucking silhouetted (slow) ninja??!!?

I get it's a different culture, and this was probably made on about $35, but it's still some skinny little nasal bastard singing about how his style is so incredibly unique.

Also, the girl was like some freakish sex android from a dystopian future.......
posted by lattiboy at 12:26 AM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Holy Shit. That's a transcendent kind of awful.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:32 AM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Honestly, I love it.
posted by empath at 12:33 AM on February 1, 2010

Remarkably odd.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:41 AM on February 1, 2010

Weird midget in dark room?

The midget is supposedly the producer, and if he really has progeria, he doesn't have long to live.
posted by empath at 12:41 AM on February 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think this all might be an ali g kind of put on, though. That Vice interview, he can't be for real.
posted by empath at 12:43 AM on February 1, 2010

Those are some pretty fantastic photographs of Leon Botha, btw.
posted by empath at 12:46 AM on February 1, 2010

how does one pronounce vi$$er?
posted by billybobtoo at 12:50 AM on February 1, 2010

Looks like this is her second hip-hop group.
posted by empath at 12:51 AM on February 1, 2010

$$ is pronounced cha-ching round these parts.
posted by mannequito at 12:54 AM on February 1, 2010

This has been in my Facebook feed all week, but I didn't watch it until now. WOW. That is one amazing freakin' video. The music... it's interesting, but I really don't like the guy's flow (it's like Bone Thugs with an accent). That's just my preferences, though, they're clearly really fucking talented.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:58 AM on February 1, 2010

Okay, I rescind that after watching the second video. I was really digging the first, but that second one was some of the most awful grime bullshit I've ever heard.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:00 AM on February 1, 2010

Holy shit, I thought that thing in the first video was a Chris Cunningham type effect, not a member of the group who actually looks like that. Holy shit. I really need to pay more attention before commenting, because my opinion has gone from "this is pretty cool" to "this is really scary" upon obtaining all the information.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:02 AM on February 1, 2010

Metafilter: I really need to pay more attention before commenting

This is really cool. Leon Botha's flickr photostream.
posted by mullingitover at 1:11 AM on February 1, 2010 [4 favorites]

I second Leon Botha's flickr photostream. Good call, mullingitover.
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 1:27 AM on February 1, 2010

Thirding the photostream, Botha is a seriously talented painter.
posted by uri at 1:33 AM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

ah, it is a parody.
posted by empath at 1:36 AM on February 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

I seriously don't know what to make of this. The music in the ninja video did nothing for me, and that whole video seemed way too processed, as if to be the packaged entry to English-only culture, like DIS IS YUR SOUTH AFRICAN GANGSTA RAP YO GET IT? But some of this stuff on the website where they're rapping in Afrikaans or whatever the fuck, liberally peppered with English, is something else (you click where it says "player" down there in the lower right of their website, there's like a whole album you can stream). I can't really argue with this, and after listening to that Mail and Guardian slideshow I have to say I could listen to that Leon Botha talk a whole bunch more. This is a 24-year-old who has essentially been living on borrowed time for half his life and is extraordinarily aware of mortality in a way. I dunno man, I can see this not being your cup of tea but I find I can't just brush it off either.
posted by nanojath at 1:38 AM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Is this one of those things that is so bad it becomes awesome? I think it might be.
posted by Hollow at 1:39 AM on February 1, 2010

if those homemade tats are real (I don't care whether he actually got them in prison or not) this is somewhere beyond parody... Mr. Tudor Jones, anyway, has apparently been at this for a while.
posted by nanojath at 1:43 AM on February 1, 2010

nanojath: Yeah, I listened to some of the stuff on the website as well, and some of it was actually not too bad sleaze-rave type stuff, and the guy is a talented MC with an interesting story. There's just something off about the whole thing, though, I agree.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:03 AM on February 1, 2010

I'm unable to stop watching Zef Side. It's beautiful. The beginning reminds me - strangely - of Summer Heights High.
posted by Usher at 2:09 AM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Watkin Tudor-Jones (aka Ninja) while not a poor white as the character claims to be, seems to have gone slightly off the deep end and given himself permanent prison-style tattoos. His previous project in SA was Max Normal and he's been part of the SA music scene for years. That said he does have talent.

For more Afrikaans rap check out Die Antwoords collaborator Jack Parow: Cooler As Ekke and Die Vraagstuk.

Both Die Antwoord/Jack Parow claim to be representing working class Afrikaaners (Parow being an extremely blue collar suburb in Cape Town) and while I doubt either actually come from that kind of stock (definitely not Tudor-Jones, Parow perhaps I can't confirm at this stage) they do seem to be celebrating the 'authenticity' of it. Die Antwoord also give a lot of references to the Cape Town coloured community who have had their own (much ignored by white Afrikaners) Afrikaans rap scene for years.

If you'd like some translations/context on a few lines or phrases I can help out.
posted by PenDevil at 2:09 AM on February 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

Also I don't think Leon Botha is DJ Hi-Tek (I think it's the fat dude on their site, or it could be Jones himself).
posted by PenDevil at 2:14 AM on February 1, 2010

I think it's performance.
posted by nanojath at 2:31 AM on February 1, 2010

I thought it was all just some viral marketing effort by/for Puma?
posted by slater at 2:42 AM on February 1, 2010

Very interesting. Thanks for posting!
posted by mrducts at 3:09 AM on February 1, 2010

Yeah. I thought it was bad.
posted by delmoi at 4:04 AM on February 1, 2010

Watching the video, I was kind of distressed about Botha, because it looked like the guy had been reduced to Chris-Cunningham-style shock cuts, and my reaction was along the lines of "that's a person, not a special effect."

Then I moved on to the Botha "Transcend and Transgress" slide show, and it's obvious the guy has total agency over himself and how he's portrayed, so obviously there's some thought behind his participation in Die Antwoord.

I cannot, however, forgive any participation in a project that asks a ninja to simultaneously be a samurai. I mean come on, people, that's like asking a cobra to be a mongoose, or George "The Animal" Steele to simultaneously assume the role of Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake. Madness.
posted by Shepherd at 4:07 AM on February 1, 2010 [3 favorites]

Not exactly bad, but it's about 10+ years past it's due date. It seems like a Marilyn Manson thing where he puts all the makeup (tats) on and becomes that thing that everyone wants to see.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:15 AM on February 1, 2010

I enjoyed this. Thank you for posting it, meadowlark lime.

Leon Botha's flickr photostream was cool, too. Thanks, mullingitover.

lattiboy said:

"Weird midget in dark room?"

Leon Botha lives with an extremely rare (one incidence in every 8 million births) genetic condition known as Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome. Symptoms resemble rapid aging and most people with the condition die at about thirteen years of age. Thirteen years old. People with progeria face the horror of death before many of us discover the joy of masturbation.

Leon Botha is twenty-four years old, an incredible accomplishment in itself. He's a talented artist. He's internationally known. He's now expanding into the music industry. Through his accomplishments he has demonstrated strength, willpower, talent and determination beyond that of most people.

The average lifespan of a man in South Africa is forty eight.

Leon Botha lived almost twice as long as expected and, in half the average South African lifespan, accomplished probably double what most South Africans (and probably most of us here at MetaFilter) ever will in our lifetime.

"Weird midget in dark room?"

Please show some respect, lattiboy. I'm not asking you to show sympathy. Leon Botha doesn't need our sympathy because he's clearly earned our respect. Let's give him the respect he's due.
posted by stringbean at 4:17 AM on February 1, 2010 [19 favorites]


OK, that's funny.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:23 AM on February 1, 2010

Cool. Obviously not as good as the Amsterdam rave hop I'm working to get released this summer but he's way ahead of me in terms of website & video clip! Work to do, work to do...
posted by eeeeeez at 4:30 AM on February 1, 2010

Also, the girl was like some freakish sex android from a dystopian future

You say this like it's a bad thing.

I liked this, a lot. I liked the self-consciousness of it, including the simultaneous parody and seriousness. It's clearly performance art, but backed up with some serious talent.

And the photo montage was really impressive, in a different way.
posted by Forktine at 4:31 AM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

I thought it was this DJ Hi-Tek, and I was so incredibly confused, in part because I just woke up from a dream about him.
posted by nosila at 5:38 AM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Still, better than Nickleback.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:05 AM on February 1, 2010 [10 favorites]

Sounds like most rap. Some guy singing about how great he is.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 6:23 AM on February 1, 2010

Some guy singing about how great he is.

I love singing along to the self-loathing rap-stylings of DJ Sucksalot.

"Uh… yeah… and I sometimes stop."
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:06 AM on February 1, 2010

I loved the Zef Side vid. It's just so crazy with the glimpses of the neighborhood they live in, and their parents in the video. Also, their DJ, who lives in his mom's attic is totally stoned -- almost catatonic in the vid.
posted by Catblack at 7:33 AM on February 1, 2010

The video and music are pretty terrible, only interesting because of the cultural mish-mash, but surely there are far better examples out there?

On the other hand, the link to the photos of Leon Botha is great, and fascinating to hear him discussing them.
posted by malphigian at 7:49 AM on February 1, 2010

Doh, flubbing the link, it was in the post anyway, but here it is again.
posted by malphigian at 7:49 AM on February 1, 2010

If I were a young person living in South Africa, I'd be really sick and tired that every single bit of art we exported had to start out talking about apartheid. Maybe it's unavoidable in a society that was so fucked up for so long, but if you're 23 wouldn't you like to, you know, move on a little bit and make some music about your crazy genetic disorder or your desire to be an Afrikaneminem?
posted by Nelson at 7:53 AM on February 1, 2010 [3 favorites]

Breathtakingly amazing. The post just gets more and more interesting as you follow the links.

Then the comments, starting with the flinching ignorance of the first...

...this is going to be good.

BTW needs strugglingartists tag because right or wrong these individuals are doing it right.
posted by humannaire at 8:02 AM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

"You said I was a loser/ But look at me now/ All up on the interweb"

posted by humannaire at 8:21 AM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Metafilter: All up in the interweb, worldwide
posted by stet at 8:22 AM on February 1, 2010

Damn you, humannaire!
posted by stet at 8:23 AM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was all set to comment that I really liked the video until the sampled monologue about blocks and streets in Japan ended. (Granted, I thought the part where the rap and monologue overlapped was a little distracting.)

Then I realized I was watching it while the audio from this post played in another tab on my browser. I suggest you try it -- more avant-garde, less Afrikaans Ice.
posted by turducken at 8:41 AM on February 1, 2010

Rap more like tour guides!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:41 AM on February 1, 2010

This is fascinating, thanks. The Jack Parrow stuff is pretty great.

More to the point, Leon Botha is clearly an amazing human being.

If I were a young person living in South Africa, I'd be really sick and tired that every single bit of art we exported had to start out talking about apartheid.

This is a very interesting thought. Imagine being born into a society, where wherever you go, wherever you travel, you're aware that the first and perhaps only thing people know of your homeland is the policy of apartheid. That the blacks and coloreds were the actual victims of apartheid (and remain the victims of its aftermath) further adds to the strangeness of this.

I'm a white American guy. I was 7 when Nelson Mandela was released from prison. I remember asking my dad who Nelson Mandela was and what South Africa was, and the way he put it to me I'll never forget: "imagine your life now, where you're a kid with a home and your parents have cars and you have a TV and a VCR and there are supermarkets, but now imagine that there are no black people living anywhere near you. By law. A bit of a Twilight Zone."

It struck me at the time, to the extent that anything could have struck me when I was 7, that such a world was a total Twilight Zone to me.

But there's a flip-side to that. I mean, come on. At the time, all my neighbors were white anyway. Now I look back and see the after-effects of a number of social and economic policies which had led to my all-white neighborhood, even though there were certainly no laws promoting segregation on the books.

So when the first thing I think of when I meet a South African, even to this day somewhere in the tiniest back of my mind, is "huh, apartheid," I can't help but wonder how silly that is. It's silly for a variety of reasons, but chief among them: doesn't letting South Africa's apartheid legacy spring to the front of its national identity help displace some of the awareness that almost all white, Western nations have de facto segregation and exploitation as part of their functioning? Since I regularly buy products from companies like Nestle and Tyson and other huge corporations that exploit either immigrant workers or foreign workers, doesn't that make me every bit as culpable for someone's misery as someone who grew up in a society where the exploitation was occurring between parties within the nation-state, between persons who should have all been full citizens?
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:49 AM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yikes. If anyone sees Vanilla Ice, tell him I owe him an apology.
posted by nonliteral at 9:21 AM on February 1, 2010

"Please show some respect, lattiboy. I'm not asking you to show sympathy. Leon Botha doesn't need our sympathy because he's clearly earned our respect. Let's give him the respect he's due."

In the context of this video, he's a weird midget (little person with a rare disease) writhing about next to Napoleon Dynamite's alter ego. It's exploitive and he signed up for it.

PS I get what I said was insensitive, but I don't need a lecture from you, just tell me I was being insensitive and I'll apologize. Please stop applying for an Aaron Sorkin writing job in public.
posted by lattiboy at 10:02 AM on February 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

Very well put Sticherbeast.

It was a weird twilight zone. As a kid, you get the sense that something is ... wrong. But most people are telling you it's all fine. My parents, to their credit, didn't agree with apartheid, but they certainly benefitted from it, as did I.

I cringed inwardly when I watched the first link, but the second link, and the fact that it's connected to Mr Tudor Jones, made sense. It's definitely got a strong Ali G element to it. 'Zef Side' is pure parody.

I think the reason why there's this strange and disconcerting seriousness underlying the whole exercise is that because Afrikaans culture is so utterly tainted by its recent history, the only way one can celebrate it is by simultaneously denigrating it.
posted by psolo at 10:06 AM on February 1, 2010

That was awful. I loved it.
posted by phaedon at 10:23 AM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty sure this isn't targeted at me. I can't tell if it's good, bad, or parody.
posted by chairface at 10:50 AM on February 1, 2010

Anything that perplexes me as much as Zef Side just has must surely be a good thing, I think?
posted by Hutch at 11:12 AM on February 1, 2010

Please show some respect, lattiboy. I'm not asking you to show sympathy.

This is so unnecessary. Using one word of a five-word comment to springboard into a defense of Botha is reasonable if a bit gallant. Using it to publicly skewer the original commenter and his intentions is not reasonable. This video is ridiculous, colorful stuff, and at best only flirts with sincerity, and asking Lattiboy to attach such personhood and dignity to each image that he dare not use the word weird is almost like asking someone to genuflect to a sainted icon.
posted by kid ichorous at 11:34 AM on February 1, 2010 [3 favorites]

Yes, but do they count 1-2-3-4, or 2-3-4-1?
posted by Evilspork at 5:14 PM on February 1, 2010

Is "weird midget" uncool or what? I say yes. The guy Botha is a dedicated, intelligent and successful artist who has his own thing going, who is NOT being exploited but is consciously performing, and who has a seriously hardcore medical condition which is fully developed in the FPP. What more, as I undestand it "midget" is not only not what Botha is dealing with but it's not even what people who are little people want to be called or known as.

A simple, "yeah, that was uncool or uncalled for" would do. I mean, both as an artist and as a human being, Botha does seem to boldly rule with what looks like courage and grace. A little more than a cursory glance at the first link in the FPP I think shows that.

*not lattiboy-ist
posted by humannaire at 7:12 PM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Okay, glad to see my this post made some people intrigued or happy.

I just want to add that I think people wondering aloud whether "this is genuine" or "this is a hoax" are missing the point entirely. This is pop music. Is Lady Gaga a hoax? Is Ziggy Stardust? Were the Beatles genuine when they suited up to become the Lonely Hearts Club Band?

Though these videos have been on the 'net for months, Die Antwoord seems to be getting some cred in the last few days. Maybe this MetaFilter post contributed to that? The Guardian wrote them up. New York Magazine checked them. We'll see where all this goes and whether they can keep up the zef and ride this out.

As for brother Leon Botha, I've found out that he is not actually DJ Hi-Tek. The Ninja vid misleadingly cuts to him when the MC name-checks Hi-Tek, but Hi-Tek is actually the fat dude in the KC Chiefs jersey in the second linked video. Botha appeared in "Enter the Ninja" instead of Hi-Tek because, apparently, DJHT was too scared of flying to go out to wherever they shot the video.

Leon Botha is an independent artist who collaborates with Die Antwoord. Think of him as the Andy Warhol to their Velvet Underground.

Finally, those who enjoyed the original post might enjoy this video of them rapping in a taxicab.
posted by meadowlark lime at 7:34 PM on February 1, 2010 [3 favorites]

i love this the way i love the band the darkness,
it seems like it must be parody, but their love for what they are doing is total and sincere.

what makes this is genius and not the mediocre disaster it seems it should be, is that they have totally committed themselves, there is no tongue in cheek, not a pixel of irony.

its the same thing that makes bono great. If bono backed off even one percent he would be a tosser, but his total nauseating commitment to unapologetic rock super glory propels him over the uncanny valley of self serving celebrity vanity, to greater more glorious heights
posted by compound eye at 5:39 AM on February 2, 2010 [3 favorites]

Actually, Zef Side is massively tongue in cheek. If you think those three grew up in that neighbourhood ...

More from Mr Watkins Tudor Jones (Ninja / Max Normal)

I guess this is South Africa's answer to a trend in white-trash exploitation/homage that has many parallels elsewhere. I can think of three in the UK alone: Ali G, Goldie Looking Chain and Stanley Wee Man

I'm sure 'Ninja' is delighted that he's been taken for the real thing, especially after the tattoos and dental work.
posted by psolo at 12:37 PM on February 2, 2010

yeah i kind of suspect that this whole thing was put together by vice magazine, I've got a feeling I have actually seen the woman in the 'do' section,

what i mean by not tongue in cheek is that at least what i've seen they stick to act and never let it drop
posted by compound eye at 10:11 PM on February 2, 2010

I've been listening to this for a few days now...

I love it. Unironically.
posted by schyler523 at 10:40 PM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

In case anyone was wondering if this is a big put on, here's a video from their previous effort.
posted by empath at 11:50 PM on February 3, 2010 [3 favorites]

In case anyone was wondering if this is a big put on, here's a video from their previous effort .


FWIW, a "dassie" is a hyrax.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:50 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

Here's another video from a different project.
posted by schyler523 at 5:02 PM on February 4, 2010

Hmm. My previous comment was a bit harsh. These guys are really into it and multi-talented. They deserve the attention they're belatedly getting.
posted by psolo at 10:06 AM on February 5, 2010

Interestingly, an article has just been published regarding the recent attention in at least one South African newspaper which you can read here.
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 1:31 AM on February 8, 2010

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