Album Review: Die Antwoord – $o$
Die Antwoord appear to trade in rave rap; all big hooks, bouncing ‘next level beats’ and aggressive, disdainful South African hip hop spittle. Whether you balk at this or wallow in it, it shouldn’t take long to notice that there’s something subtly awry.
Whether it’s the poker-faced crunk-by-numbers of the production, or MC Ninja’s first earnest address to the listener (“Used to be a no-one, now I’m the fuckin’ man, with this fuckin’ money to say fuck you ‘cos I can”), it should slowly dawn on you that they might just be taking the piss.
But are they? I mean, it’s all so stern-faced…
At this point, you should take yourself over to the nearest interweb, and type the words ‘Zef Side’ into YouTube. Zef is a subculture in South Africa that takes its name from one of the favoured lower-class cars of choice. The culture resembles a collision of self-aggrandising, wealth-obsessed hip hop culture and straight-up white trash. By the time you get to the slow-mo close up of Ninja’s Pink Floyd shorts, it should be clear that everything this band says and does is to be taken with a Ford Zephyr-load of salt.
It is a joke, but an elaborate and intricate one. It’s impressively watertight, and has to be, in order to work; there’s no official information online that acknowledges that the whole act is a gag. Unfortunately this means that the music is pretty much just a means to an end; a tool to pull the wool over the eyes of straight-laced music critics, while at the same time critiquing a culture.
It’s uniformly awful, but so densely littered with cultural in-jokes and musical gags that the album ends up quite (unpleasantly) addictive.
Gen Y’s answer to Spinal Tap?