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Decapitate a Hater

Decapitate a Hater

by Petra Mason / 06.02.2010

In the 4th world, the web, the mysterious domain of the viral misdaad, South African rave rock rappers Ninja, Yo-Landi, Leon Botha + DJ Hi-Tek of Die Antwoord are not just hot sluts of the week, they have made South African pop culture history. Last week news of the zef krew spread like a rash worldwide and swiftly took root in the zeros and ones. By Tuesday watching the virus spread became spectator sport. With a Facebook fan base that grew by over 1000 new recruits a day, most of whom had never heard of Afrikaans, let alone “gam taal”, from Los Angeles to the Ukraine mense got doos dronk, dik gerook, and kapped om, taken by “die spirit” of Die Antwoord. It’s absurdly, wonderfully weird. The blogosphere is drooling over Die Antwoord and geeks all over are going gangsta. Much respek is due to the half-illustrated man known as Ninja who put this circus together and got the show on the road.

The answer to Die Antwoord is given to us at the beginning of the slick interweb promo piece when Ninja raps that: “South African culture is all these things, all these people, fucked into one person”.

Yo-landi Vi$$er

For most part South Africans are backstabbing haters. And it seems to get rougher and kakker and more trailer park by the week. Like a bunch of starving brakhonde fighting over the last bone at the braai, audiences down South are vicious. (Just check the comments below all the Mahala articles on Die Antwoord for a little taste of that poison – Die Fokken Antwoord Is, Max Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, 15 Minutes with a Ninja – Ed). They behave as if there is a cap on how much you’re allowed to like. It does not cost you to support each other, so stop being such cheap bastards. Why take sides? So what if Brasse Vannie Kaap said zef first. Who owns words? When did tjappies become sacred?

Is it a crime that Ninja has a history as a performer? Does it matter that tjip rolls might not be on the menu everyday and that someone saw one of them eating an Italian tomato at the Gardens Center? This is the kind of micro kak that locals poison each other and their efforts with. For now let’s all laugh, and bask in their new found media success as our “yes we can” moment for South African performers. Because, until deals are made and money is paid, until the album $0$ is on iTunes to purchase and units are sold, not just stolen, for now, pop culture history is the only currency that’s been traded.

All images © Andy Davis / Mahala

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RESPONSES (39)
  1. griffin says:

    You get it.

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  2. Petra Mason says:

    Zef!

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  3. Moijojojo says:

    Look…I’m American, I’m a woman, I don’t speak Afrikaans or know jack-shite about Zef culture. What I do know is that I have ~50 gigs of music on my hard drive, of all diff kinds, and I would’ve bought $0$ in a HEARTBEAT if it was avail.

    I could give a shit what Waddy & Anica have done in the past. Die Antwoord make good beats, they’ve got flow, and they’ve brainwormed me x infinity. If they’re talented enough to do all that, they got me…whatevs.

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  4. Andy says:

    Moijojo – we love you!

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  5. CY pride says:

    after all the kak bands from town and the southern snoburbs the world has finally noticed cape town music from the only real place there…the fuckin northern sub urbs.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Theyre being from Cape Town means absolutely nothing. For them its just part of their fashion and lingo. It doesnt make the music good or bad so who cares…

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  7. Manuel Dahm says:

    Lets face it, its fokking brilliant. Ninja is enlightened and putting the weirdest shit together to make a whole freaking dream out of it where he lets us glance at this dark light he has seen. Mesmerizing. They deserve to sell a million copies and those haters, they dont deserve to be loved, that easy. Its all about love.

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  8. from los angeles says:

    i am totally into Die Antwoord, it is art, it is great music. Thanks and put a paypal donate button up somewhere 🙂

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  9. Great post. Agree 100%. dis jaloesie.

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  10. Dustin Johnson says:

    There are 300 Million wierdos in the United States that are going to eat this shit up. They don’t know a Braai from a shebeen, and in fact if they did they’d mix ’em anyway. Get to LA Die Antwoord and quick.

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  11. Rraaoul says:

    Dustin, you call us weirdos, but you’re the country that gave us the super weird and mindfuckin Die Antwoord…

    Sooo many people all over the world are groovin to the beat of these guys. you should be proud they are from South Africa, they are fresh and entertaining with next level beats…

    We don’t know shit about your country, but are now more curious than ever thanks to these guys… It’s a good thing.

    Peace.

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  12. blaksquirrel says:

    Also totally into Die Antwoord here in NYC… I’ve been into beats forever (rave, club, hip-hop, dnb etc) and this shit is HOT right now, I’ve been obsessed with it for the last week. I also know that I’ve read more about South Africa and it’s culture and music than I could have imagined just days ago.

    Haters need to get off their asses and do something with their lives.

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  13. alexd says:

    Eish Ms P, your words are on fire. Dig the bit about the braks clamouring over the last entrail at the braai.

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  14. molly says:

    die antwoord is die fokken antwoord ekse. nice one petal x

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  15. Angella says:

    I really just cannot get enough of all this Die Antwoord!, what a fantastic piece of radness that truly has us all rappin’, hoppin’ and frothin’…

    Ninja and yo-landi are totally indicative of this crazy, chaotic, schizophrenic country.

    Love it or hate it,
    it is here,
    and it is now

    i am in awe

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  16. just wondering says:

    do blaksquirrel and mojojojojojo have American IP addresses? could we have die antwoord to that one please?

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  17. wipneusie says:

    when I first came to Canada three years ago, I would tell people where I was from, and I would get blank stares, or maybe something about apartheid. Now at least I get “PRAWNS!” or “ZEF SIDE!” It really does feel like SA is starting to get the attention it deserves, in spite of many of us expats and inpats seemingly feeling incapable of saying anything good about the place!

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  18. Neuroprancer says:

    I’m American as well (let the admins check my IP), and I bumped into Die Antwoord yesterday through the Cyberpunk-blog “Boing Boing”. Being both confused (“…is this comedy?..”) and captivated (“…maybe this is not comedy, but art wrapped with satire, humor, and lots of heart and love for what one does..?”), I read all the articles about DA on Mahala (and I’ve never read Mahala before), and realized what fucking geniuses these guys were. Professional, yet independent. Their stuff is so surreal that I’m still trying to figure out what it is that I’m feeling when I listen to their tracks. I grew up in the 80s, and I feel at home with their music. Maybe I’m feeling nostalgic (maybe it really is fucking cyberpunk, but that is just a vain dream of mine)… Some out there might understand what I’m trying to say, but most might not. That is ok, because that won’t make Die Antwoord go away. I really hope these guys and gals won’t go with a major label, and instead do their own independent thing. They don’t owe any label or corporation anything, they became famous through their own efforts. I understand that they had their stuff free to download, but they only have a player on the website. Do they have plans to put the stuff up free for download again? Oh, and Yolandi (as her current persona) is HOT! 🙂 Greetings from Monterey Bay, California.

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  19. die dilemma says:

    Back to the thrust of this opinion piece and its title in particular, let’s not be too quick to condemn and to insist upon a chorus of uniform approval. Andy and Roger are probably rubbing their hands with glee because an international audience is coming to mahala to learn more about DA – more than their carefully manipulated public persona and marketing machine will ever reveal.

    You call them haters, I call them challengers – people who are not afraid to question the ethos, effectiveness and outcome of a project that probably has more to do with pop culture and South Africa’s precarious relationship with ethnicity than what we know and consume as music. They are the ones who put the social relevance and entertainment value of Die Antwoord to the test – sometimes aggressively by playing devil’s advocate to the chagrin of the hardcore supporters. These people are not trying to undo what you have come to love, they have come to love the idea that culture is a living, breathing thing that thrives on interaction and does not benefit from self-satisfied complacency – either from the performers or the audience.

    And South Africa needs these “haters” more than some may realize. If DA do make it big they will inevitably fall prey to international scrutiny, an environment which still has unhealthy preconceptions about white South Africans and their propensity to exploit other race groups. In the absence of challenging, critical and introspective discourse when this band germinates, the kneejerk tendency of less informed international audiences to tar us all with one convenient brush will be less retrained.

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  20. whateverdude says:

    whatever

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  21. Neuroprancer says:

    die dilemma:

    Don’t be so fast to judge the international audience… DA might not even gather an audience among listeners jealously protected (kidnapped, taken hostage, you pick the expression) by Big Music. There might not be any appearances by DA at the Grammy, or at any other exclusive red carpet bonanza event. What has SA to lose by unleashing DA onto the “interwebs”?

    Scrutiny you say, and I assume that you think that everybody outside SA will think in politically correct terms, condemn an all-white DA for “pretending” to be colored and perceiving DA to be making fun of an already struggling race, and on top of it in a country that experienced racial strife well into post-WWII…? I don’t know. Those questions might be raised by an older generation, but I doubt that the younger audiences are going to go that far in their assessment of DA.

    From what I have understood (from all the comments and discussions I’ve read about DA on the web), it seems that curiosity about SA peaked with the movie “District 9” (however silly it may sound). They’ve been expecting “culture” to be presented through Hollywood or big music labels in the US or Europe. South Africa was never perceived as a country that is capable of exporting culture (in any shape or form). It seems that many are excited that something fresh (non-American, non-European), as whacked out or weird it may be, can pave itself into their midst. I really don’t know what SA culture is like. I can honestly say that (as someone who gained political awareness in the 80s) I’ve always seen SA as an isolated country that is still struggling to come to terms with its history, where the white population were in chronic depression over losing the control and the black population being like an infant learning how to walk for the first time. This is prejudice of course.

    I don’t think there is any other way for SA to present itself other than with culture. Cultural attention is healthier than political attention, in my opinion. And this to a younger generation, who didn’t grow up pre-90s, rather than to an older generation who most of them are still suffering of Cold War paranoia.

    I say, give DA a chance. And lets hope that they’ll be one of many cultural phenomenons hailing from SA. At least its not something born out of a baby boomer’s SMS-vote on American Idol.

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  22. Brian says:

    ‘die dilemma’ there is a difference between critical thinking and sticking your head up your arse.

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  23. die dilemma says:

    Okay Brian, explain that difference to me and feel free to quote anything I have written as an example.

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  24. Andy says:

    die dilemma the line “Decapitate a hater” comes from Die Antwoord’s track “Enter the Ninja”

    My blade swing freely

    Decapitate a hater with amazing ease

    This is not a game, boy

    Don’t play with me

    And thank god that the power of popular appeal does not rest with us critics. If you read some of the comments under the articles linked above – you’ll see it’s just straight up, old school hate. There’s nothing challenging but a closed minded, knee-jerk reaction. Fuck Waddy. It’s like that old school hip hop beef.

    But as for challenging, we’re working on a piece that hopefully addresses some of the salient points you raise.

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  25. Moijojojo says:

    @justwondering Errrm…I do happen to have a US ip, but having one from another country wouldn’t preclude me from being American. J/S.

    Like it or not, many people’s perception of SA is much like @neuroprancer says, and PS: nothing my middle-class Afrikaner friends in the UK have ever told me goes against that.

    I would think anything that piqued further interest would be welcomed. Since I’ve been tweeting about DA and my curiosity about the Afrikaans language, followers have come out of the woodwork to share their backgrounds & experiences. Is SA history and culture complicated? Of course it is, but so it goes for all countries and cultures.

    Kid Rock is not MY America, but he sure as shit is part of it. So is Tupac, Loretta Lynn, Long Beach Dub All-Stars, Henry Rollins, Cypress Hill, Johnny Cash, Kenny G, Yo Yo Ma, Earth, Wind & Fire, Har Mar Superstar, Ramones, Social D…could go on forevs, right? I like some, I love some, I fucking hate some…but it’s all about self-expression and all of them send their own version of our culture (and all its subsets) out into the world. That’s rad.

    I know more about SA now than I did last week, which isn’t saying much…but it’s a start. I might not be listening to DA this time next year, but what I learn about SA from here on out will be with me for the rest of my life…I just can’t ever see that as a bad thing.

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  26. Kevin Shamel says:

    When I first saw Die Antwoord on YouTube with the vid–Zef Side, I was completely transfixed. Everyone I’ve shown it to reacts the same way.

    WE LOVE DIE ANTWOORD.

    Maybe we knew nothing of SA culture until last week, but thanks to Ninja, Yo-landi, and DJ Hi-Tek, we’re learning. And certainly we in the US don’t get all the nuances and slang and what it all means to you. But we are beginning to. Even if we never get it, we’ll appreciate it.

    It’s the same as anywhere. In South Africa, they’re not going to understand why it’s so fucking important for us in the Pacific Northwest to have a Starbuck’s on every corner and how it’s both funny and totally not funny. But if we take the time to explain it, even if you don’t agree, you know why.

    Ninja, no matter his past, heads something fresh, new, and amazing. People who never liked rap are talking about SoS and freakin’ their geeky shit all over. I’ve had dorks dancing in my dining room. No matter his past, his name, his motivation–Ninja is just fucking AWESOME.

    My four year old has me draw tattoos like Ninja’s. He has no idea what they mean–neither do any of us–but he wanted to look like Ninja while he listened to “Enter the Ninja” over and over. Check their facebook fanpage photos.

    Die Antwoord live up to their name. No matter where we are in the world.

    THANK YOU, South Africa, for bringing them to the rest of the us.

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  27. Judith says:

    I’m with Whateverdude.

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  28. Julia says:

    Well put Petra.

    It’s not that everyone has to like them (there will never be such a thing anyway) but if, in trying to criticise it you have to resort to “i have proof they aren’t really like that, I saw them buying overpriced tomatoes” then you’re not quite getting it… or a lot of other things. Like the concept of a performer and why they would do what they do. I’m so proud of Waddy and Yolande. And anything that generates discussion around what it means to be a South African with our intensely diverse and ever-changing multi-identities… should be welcomed with open arms.

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  29. […] the best designed musical takeover in history or the curse of the lottery winner. wiki die antwoord Decapitate a Hater Vice Interview Die Antwoord boingboing Update […]

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  30. uh huh! says:

    couldn’t agree more… #

    Neuroprancer says:

    I say, give DA a chance. And lets hope that they’ll be one of many cultural phenomenons hailing from SA. At least its not something born out of a baby boomer’s SMS-vote on American Idol.
    #

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  31. BM. says:

    can we be happy for them and still think their output sucks ass? is that ok?

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  32. Petra Mason says:

    “Yes we can”. it’s okay to watch it all unfold with the mute button on and a smile on your dial. : – )

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  33. tara says:

    Afrikaans and Zulu cant be spoken by many South Africans.
    So much SA music is world class, but the audience doesnt care. or know. or exist as yet.
    We dont know these languages, because we havent wanted to and we dont hear our music because we dont believe in it.
    Apartheid (apart-hood) has its streams and although the current has changed, those streams are still drunk from.

    We like “Amercan culture” because we see it from afar. It shouldnt have to be this way, but hopefully having the world see us from afar and like our culture will endorse it for us, and we will realise just how classy we can be.
    Afri-can. get with it. now.

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  34. Petra Mason says:

    Afri-can!

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  35. lornabee says:

    Tara you are wrong. I speak English, Afrikaans Zulu and Xosa. I’m a typical South African and I appreciate Mbanga music as much as I appreciate Die Antwoord . I can groove with all of them. You say that Afrikaans and Zulu can’t be spoken by most S Africans – but you are wrong baby – think again. How many Zulu speakers are there in the country? A shit load more than English speakers that’s for sure. And how many Afrikaaners? Also. more than the English speakers. You should spend some time in Limpopo province where I just spent a few months making a movie. I even got to love Kurt Darren – and that’s saying something. lets face it ,South Africa has a rich mother load of very different music – and we can all appreciate it – if you speak the lingo. Lekker bly, hamba gahle, en moenie fokken worry nie.

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  36. tara says:

    saul williams just tweeted Die anwoord

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  37. Abraham Esau says:

    So when you ask the obvious questions about Die Antwoord you’re a hater?

    http://africasacountry.com/2010/02/19/is-die-antwoord-blackface/

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  38. Kremlin says:

    Totally agree with the writer, let’s give DA a chance here in the overseas. It brings lots of positive vibes from the SA worldwide. Puts SA on the map again in a good way, so that can’t be bad right? Maybe cool for other fans by the way: http://www.dieantwoordzeflings.com

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  39. beatmeboy says:

    die antwoord: i like em a bit. am glad they are making South Africa proud. it’s also unfortunately true that it often takes some one a bit more middle class and educated to bring something wonderful to the world. because they know how to talk the talk. and how to re-sell an idea in a package other people with money can relate to.

    and, let’s not criticise talent. ninja knows what he’s doing, yolandi does to. but although it’s absolutely ok to point out that 50 cent perhaps isn’t as trailer park as he pretends, it’s seen as sour grapes to point it out in their case. nobody hails fiddy as a ‘master of subtle parody’. he’s simply saying what people want to hear to sell records.

    but when a band that is a media darling is less ‘genuine’, some weird mythology springs up around it. i don’t know why it should be such a big deal: they just pretend to be poorer and more disadvantaged (such as styling their clip to look like the place they hang day to day is a white trash style backyard with bins, broken cars and toothless men) to make themselves look tougher and better. cool. that’s honest.

    and it has been that way in popular culture for ever. posing and posturing is sexy and fun, let’s admit it. if we were all authentic 24/7 we would all be fucking boring and damaged. but let’s not mythologise it too much.

    david bowie did it and he started, apparently, a bit of a style revolution, but he never said ‘oh i have ALWAYS been like this, this is 100% genuine, this is who i am, i grew up with gypsies, i lived in asia, i travelled the world, this is not a costume it’s my normal way of life’ or some such nonsense! he just did a good job, took fuckloads of drugs, and people liked it. ps. him sleeping with men may or may not have been a publicity stunt.

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