Meet Die Antwoord: my latest fascination (obsession?). They're a crazy acid-rap group from South Africa, and they remind me of some cross between Eminem, Lady Gaga, white-trash, and high art.
A lot of people think they're super weird (which they are). But they're also hilarious, outrageous, insanely bizarre, and completely inappropriate. Like Eminem, they rap and parody. Like Gaga, they're big on performance and glorification -- but whereas Gaga glorifies the self, Die Antwoord glorifies the underbelly of South Africa (e.g. Yolandi's fondness of rats..). And like the aforementioned pop icons, Die Antwoord definitely pushes buttons. However, it's their complexity that separates them from such pop comparisons, and it's what both confuses and intrigues me.
I know I'm never going to completely understand Die Antwoord. For starters, I'm American. Without having lived the South African post-apartheid experience, I cannot come close to comprehending the microcosm of South Africa that is Die Antwoord. But that's part of the brilliance of Die Antwoord -- what I (and people everywhere) can relate to is rap, visuals, and the internet. Through those familiar venues, Die Antwoord draw people into their crazy f*cked-up world, and in doing so, shed light on the complete f*ckery that is contemporary South African culture. South Africa is not the "happy rainbow nation of diverse cultures" that its government tries to portray to the world. In reality, its various ethnic and religious groups do not coexist peacefully. It's confusing and f*cked up, and Die Antwoord successfully embodies and speaks to those elements, but in a way that is more enjoyable and makes people want to listen.
I was first introduced to Die Antwoord via "Zef Side" -- which might still be my favorite video. It's insane, and it recently made it into the Guggenheim for being one of the most "unique, innovative, and groundbreaking" online videos to be released in the past 2 years.
At first watch, you'd think they were all about the party. And they ARE a really freaking fun party! But as Die Antwoord puts it: "We've very funny. But we're fokken serious." So I'm going to continue enjoying them & dream about dancing around on stage in gold leggings or ratsuit-onsies, and then when I feel like being a nerd, I'll google all the South African cultural references they make and educate myself a little more about their crazy world. And with that, I'll leave you with another one of my favorite videos.