Published on September 25th, 2016 | by Hondo0
Die Antwoord get thoughtful – ‘In Africa, everything is broken’
If I were to be totally honest, there are only a handful of Die Antwoord tracks I really love. ‘Enter The Ninja’ off $O$. ‘Ugly Boy’ off Donker Mag. And ‘I Fink U Freaky’, ‘Baby’s On Fire’ and ‘Fatty Boom Boom’ off Ten$ion.
In a lot of ways the idea of Die Antwoord – a band reveling in South Africa’s white trash Zef culture – is more interesting than the music they make.
Having said that, when they hit the sweet spot, it’s almost transcendental – aggressive, confrontational – funny, even. Music you feel more than listen to.
I was a little surprised, then, when a track off their new album, Mount Ninji And Da Nice Time Kid, got me thinking.
The track is ‘Street Lights’ and over a slow, dank beat it recounts a late night confrontation in Jo’Burg. Ninja and Yolandi are rolling home after a night out, let their guard down and get mugged. They hand over their phones, but the muggers want more. As Yolandi gets dragged off into the dark, Ninja loses his shit and in the resulting scuffle one of the muggers dies. The others run off into the dark.
When he says ‘There’s gonna be blood on the streets tonight’ it’s not a boast, it’s a lamentation.
Sadly, in South Africa, this sort of thing is not uncommon. The rate of violence, and in particular, sexual violence, in the country is amongst the highest in the world. As professor Pumla Dineo Gqol points out in her book, Rape: A South African Nightmare, a history of violence and dispossession has bred a toxic masculinity in the country.
In ‘Street Lights’ there is none of Ninja’s usual braggadocio. Rather there is a despairing resignation about how things are going to go down. Violence begets violence. Situations can turn deadly very easily and very quickly. When he says ‘There’s gonna be blood on the streets tonight’ it’s not a boast, it’s a lamentation.
‘In Africa,’ Yolandi sings, ‘everything is broken.’
It’s heavy, thought-provoking – even depressing. I reckon it’s the best track on the album.
If you prefer Die Antwoord when they are more cartoonish and outlandish, fear not. You’ll find a nine-year-old boy rapping about wanting wings on his penis on Track 6.
Listen to Mount Ninji and da Nice Time Kid on Spotify
Visit the official Die Antwoord website