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by Roger Young, images by Danielle Clough / 07.06.2010

This, motherfuckers, is gestalt. “Enter the Ninja” begins and as Yo-landi Visser and Ninja take the stage approximately three thousand people roar in a very fucked up delight and admiration. It’s beautiful and scary at the same time, this is one of those gigs that make everything seems possible, where the bouncers are tightly wound, poised for violence. Flanked by two Die Antwoord outsider art tracksuited dancers, Ninja and Yo-landi slip in and out of a coordinated dance somehow early Xtina and Tai-chi at the same time. In the middle of the crowd it’s a crush of madness, a roar of voices knowing every word, shouting along in some cathartic release. It feels like the 3 Arts has never been this full, bursting with complicated emotions. Off to the side, us journalists, jostle for adjectives, struggle for meaning and access. The music is a guilty pleasure, everything we outwardly used to think was uncool, eighties synth with horrible sequencing mushed into something that might come out of a car stereo if your woofers had been stolen, yet deep and gut pulling like embarrassing early house. Part of the pull of Die Antwoord is that they give us freedom to feel and think things we normally couldn’t admit to.

Die Antwoord

The bass kicks in proper. They are disturbingly present. Actual. A force of nature, your mind tries to deny their reality but your body and your essence cannot. Three thousand people cannot be wrong. I want to get closer to the stage but it’s too full, the press of bodies throwing horns toward the stage, I’m too late to this party. People are throwing shit onto stage; Ninja sees something land, stalks over to it, picks it up, considers whether he can use it for anything and then tosses it aside. He steps onto the bass bins and reaches for the crowd who are pushing so hard the photographers are in danger of getting crushed by the pit barriers.

“Wie Maak Die Jol Vol” and the full, supporting cast comes out, Isaac Mutant, Knoffel, Jaak Paarl and Scallywag, most of them unknown to the predominantly young non hip hop accessing audience like myself, you see them all flow together and wonder what all those claims about misappropriation were all about. It’s just obvious that the most virulent critics were so confused by the outward presentation that they weren’t really listening at all.

Yo-Landi Visser

During “Wat Kyk Jy”, pent up and aggressive, Yo-landi screaming “Poes!”, “Fok Jou!” “Jou naaier!” into the faces of each and every press photographer in the pit, suddenly she spots him and breaks out of the song, she rips the manky dreadlocked dudes cap off his head and starts spitting insults at him. She throws his cap into the crowd and gives him a poesklap on the side of his head. Ninja rushes over and calls security and demands that he be thrown out, he rushes from the pit, shaken afraid. This is the same guy Ninja apparently kicked in the face at the Stellenbosch gig a few weeks ago. Like all of us, he keeps coming back for more. We pay the Ninja to kick sand in our faces. He pays us back by existing.

When Yo-landi is alone on stage doing “Rich Bitch”, its evident that she needs the Ninja for his energy. She’s deviously sexy and insulting, egging on the boys in the front row with her ass but somehow without their combined energy, it doesn’t grab as hard every other track. This is the very definition of their gestalt. Die Antwoord works because of the fucked up combination of elements, the side stepping genius, the totality and not the parts alone. Even the now only instrumental tracks on dieantwoord.com betray this. Each energy contributes creating something bigger.

Yolandi Visser

Die Antwoord has passed beyond, for the moment, any point of meaningful deconstruction. It’s the Sex Pistols era of punk, fucking with the media, fucking with the crowd, not giving a fuck but really caring deeply. A massive assisted venting of middle class self-hate through the Ninja, Yo-landi’s and DJ Hi-Tek’s poes’d togetherness. Standing way back, watching them do “Doos Dronk” the crowd pomping along in delirious rugby chant-esque male energy, all satire lost in the maw of the song, these thousands bouncing in a strange unity. The view from above proving that you really just can’t predict this kind of shit. It’s just a party, a safe out pouring of aggression, like a video game, we know it’s not real but we need to believe. Kids just want to listen to something that’s fresh and speaks to them without being emo. Ninja speaks to them in insults that show a need and total love for the game. It’s a shitty world; full of hate, miscomprehension and violence he seems to say, so fuckit, whatever, lets just party.

And Ninja loves his audience. He asks nicely and repeatedly about whether it’s cool to crowd surf, after all he doesn’t want to be dropped. Finally established that it’s cool, he fucks himself hard into the crowd with more force than they could possibly have been expecting.


False Ninja

Die Antwoord Merchandise

All images © Danielle Clough.

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  1. Anastassia says:

    i miss captions. i know thats not saying enough about what is said herein.

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  2. sleaze says:

    agreed that boxer short shot just screams ‘Caption Me”

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  3. Anonymous says:

    brilliant pics

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  4. snapper says:

    ooh curious: what’s the story with the guy who keps getting slapped/ejected? what provoked the wrath of the ninja?

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  5. bryan little says:

    was a fucking mal jol this was.

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  6. you might find this interesting says:

    link to an article i can’t seem to upload – on litnet by carlo germeshuy.
    here’s a bit:

    “It is difficult to write anything meaningful about the zef-rap phenomenon now, when it has ceased to be interesting. This is a pity, since Die Antwoord and Jack Parow are the first remotely relevant white South African pop acts in over twenty years. For a while, it seemed as if these two acts possessed the one element most lacking in pop music: the potential to be subversive. Unfortunately (and leaving Jack Parow aside for the present), Die Antwoord have reached what will no doubt be the peak of their popularity at the very moment that they have become boring.”

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  7. Roger Young says:

    Well, here’s the thing, they’re becoming boring to us. But they’re pretty fresh in places they’ve never been. You can’t expect an artist to release a new album and a new concept every 6-8 months, you’ve gotta let them tour the current one first. And it takes time to penetrate into the consciousness. Ninja and Parow are smart guys, I don’t think they’re going to be running out of idea’s soon.

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  8. ja boet says:

    Roger – quite the “day job” at mahala and start writing promo spin for Die Antwoord.

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  9. you might find this interesting says:

    I hear you. But, the point of it being a joke – which it is – does open it up to the vulnerablity of a joke getting old, and rapidly. When that happens people can smell it a mile off. The latest interview I saw with them reveals the first frank and self-reflexive discussion (as far as I’m aware), in which Ninja talks about the package as art. His accent slips here and there. They were reportedly pretty upset it was released and tried to stop that. Consciousness has been penetrated, there is absolutely no doubt about that. It seems like fireworks now. Everyone looked up and marvelled in stunned delight when they first hit, playing in little shit holes like Disco K. How do you sustain something like that? The nature of hip-hop is that it is consumed, greedily, on the premise of relevence and immediacy. Ninja/Waddy’s genius is manifest in his very apparent unwillingness to give up any degree of creative control of his projects. That’s part of what makes him kind of scary, for me. You can feel it, he’s obsessive. But even at those early gigs, I remember thinking I wished I hadn’t seen him spot a video camera and totally change his posture and what he was doing, for the benefit of the documenting of it. Maybe that’s unfair, but the point is, it is a creation. As immersed as he is in the persona, It is not sustainable without regular injections of new material.

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  10. Roger Young says:

    But, is it a joke? Is it meant to be funny (in the one-liner sense) or will it go somewhere else. We can’t say, what we can say is that they now have a lot of cash to step off and work on something new. The gig on Saturday was remarkable for the size of the crowd, when they were in smaller venues it seemed like some odd art prank, now that it’s become “mainstream” it’s actually become more serious, because Ninja now starts to lose control, whether he likes it or not. I’m fairly optimistic that he’ll defeat the boss and advance to the next level,

    And yes, all creation is contrivance but it is still disconcerting when the mask slips a little.

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  11. jon monsoon says:

    i think a new and different story about this act is starting to emerge here. When the hype dies away, it creates a vaccuum and something else is rolling in to fill it, and perhaps, maybe, that will be where the real story lies.
    Waddy/Ninja is way too creative and intent to make it stick to let it just slide or to become a parody of something it just ain’t. which i know isn’t really saying anything at all, ha ha, but it’s a class act regardless and more power to them.

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  12. you might find this interesting says:

    An earnest joke, an incidental joke, as by-product of some genuinely fucking smart commentary.

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  13. you might find this interesting says:

    (commentary that has now dried up)

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  14. Roger Young says:

    I’m not by any means saying that it isn’t the same act on repeat, for now. But they are about to embark on a world tour. Then they’ll come back and make new shit. That is how professional musicians with international recording contracts operate. Yes, some of us have seen it ad nauseum but I bet at least 2000 people in Cape Town saw them for the first time on Saturday. Die Antwoord are no longer owned by the intellectuals and their hip hop buddies, they have passed into popular culture, which generally takes a while to get the joke anyway.

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  15. sleaze says:

    “they have passed into popular culture, which generally takes a while to get the joke anyway” Roger ever the elitist

    maybe “that joke isn’t funny anymore”

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  16. Tomas says:

    music, guys. the music.

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  17. nosejob says:

    “all creation is contrivance”, but some creations are more sincere than others.

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  18. Roger Young says:

    And when I first read the litnet article I found it provocative and shocking but now a day later I think it’s boring. I think he needs to work harder and come up with a new angle, blah blah blah….

    What I’m saying is that Tomas is the only guy here who gets it, when the shock subsides try enjoying the music, because it’s really nice to dance to and you don’t have to worry about meaning when you’re dancing.

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  19. Long Beach USA says:

    The guy who got kicked out is a very compotent and missunderstood photographer. He is often over eager. But he is a good guy.

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  20. danielle clough says:

    @Long beach Is the photographer the, or anyone that may know, What is the photographer with dreads that got kicked outs name?

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  21. RickyDee says:


    Until you piss off the jocks on the dance floor.

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  22. good on them says:

    like hip hop its about someone being hard for you -someone who tunes everyone to fuck off and stands strong in the face of a fucked up world- especially the grandchildren of former railwayworkers who have to fight hard for space, the underdog is forced to be genuis to survive in the international cybersphere-its giving power to Ballens inbred post concentration camp cauliflower ears.its about the things that lots think but few say its about the opposite of the dirty skirts its like R1 as opposed to 50cents-its about the psyche of every mandrax head that ever escaped from boys town in george and hid out in the knysna forest-its about recognition for a post district 9 generation that arent into rugby -its great-the only problem is that when it comes to shock value you gotta go harder all the time- thats tuff -once uve sat on the disco stick u need to find another use for it-or as thomson said maybe cut holes into your body to increase the amount of orrifices-eish joe ma se poes in a goldfishpaste jar

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  23. Anastassia says:

    we’re all kings and qyeens in this fish bowl arent we.

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  24. Anastassia says:

    queens. that is.

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  25. Sonogun says:

    Check out more awesome photography of this mad night:

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  26. D says:

    Ooh, a little self promo, tjeck out phopthop.tumblr.com for my bess ‘fokk julle naiers’ pic. Hope i spelt naiers right.

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  27. Sara says:

    “Boring” and “interesting” are the dullest adjectives for critics and journalists to use, can’t take you seriously

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  28. Roger Young says:

    Yo! Sara, you’re talking about in my comments right? I’m using those terms because that’s the level in which they are discussed in the litnet article that was quoted. Not following the course of a conversation is one of the dullest things a reader can do, can’t take you seriously.

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  29. David says:

    I don’t understand how anyone can view this as anything other than a musical theater show, so yes, once you’ve seen Cats, you’ve seen it! Watching the show again will not be as stimulating as it was the first time, but your experience of the production changes.

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  30. David says:

    I s’pose it’s like Andrew Lloyd Webber on tik.

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  31. DJ Mujava says:

    It like people listening to house music, its the same shit stretched out over several hours and they love it… stupid yes, but watch them go! doof doof yea!

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  32. repeat says:

    another story about the antwoord by mahala saying the same thing about die anwtwoord another story about the antwoord by mahala saying the same thing about die anwtwoord another story about the antwoord by mahala saying the same thing about die anwtwoord another story about the antwoord by mahala saying the same thing about die anwtwoord another story about the antwoord by mahala saying the same thing about die anwtwoord another story about the antwoord by mahala saying the same thing about die anwtwoord another story about the antwoord by mahala saying the same thing about die anwtwoord another story about the antwoord by mahala saying the same thing about die anwtwoord another story about the antwoord by mahala saying the same thing about die anwtwoord another story about the antwoord by mahala saying the same thing about die anwtwoord

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  33. Adrie McKendall says:

    “Three thousand people cannot be wrong.”

    Against tough competition, that, Roger Young, is the stupidest fucking thing you have ever written.

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  34. Roger Young says:

    oh shit, someone finally got it. took a fucking week,

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  35. Underdog says:

    Love em or hate em
    They’re on top.
    You have to respect where they started and where they’re going.
    It’s not everyones cup of tea, but it’s good shit if u like the blend of originality and creativity.
    At least they’re doing something.
    Power to the people !

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  36. Uncle says:

    I must say it will not last…it will be consumed and spat out…I like Die Antwoord but im a realist……

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  37. Ismellarat says:

    Hmmm…does anyone else think that there’s a very good chance that Long Beach USA is the photographer who got kicked out? Own up mate…

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  38. andrea zeffer says:

    Fokken rauw! Check the fansite as well all fans: http://www.dieantwoordzeflings.com

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  39. J.M.A says:

    Sorry, LB USA was someone else who knows what actually went down…. and besides, I did not even get kicked out. I walked out the press pit cuz I could see cats thought it was part of the show but I knew it would become more then that, It was funny to be part of that hype, the stellie’ gig was way better though… I wonder if anyone has good video footage from that night?

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