Everyone who knows me knows that I can’t stand white rappers, nor do I like booty-techno rave music as anything more than something to laugh at. I am the same person who used to listen to nothing but death metal and black metal, but is now jamming Die fokkin Antwoord in his car right now. I’m telling you that the same person who has a respectable collection of classic rock on vinyl that gets listened to every day has gone so far as to purchase Die Antwoord’s latest album on VINYL.
Surely I jest. But no, I don’t.
I can’t explain it either. I don’t know what it is about this band that makes me love them so much. All I can do is offer a road map of discovery, and hopefully that will lead us to an understanding as to how one such as myself could ever consider himself a fan of this shit.
It all began with a random visit to an old friend’s Facebook page, who had this video linked:
I thought this was the weirdest video I had seen all year. I didn’t understand it. I couldn’t tell if it was some weird art exposition or a promotional video for an obscure independent movie. All I knew was that I thought it was dirty and kinda funny. I remember showing it to my woman when it was time for the obligatory “let’s share the new weird stuff we’ve found on Youtube lately” conversation that we usually have every month or so. I put “I Fink U Freeky” on for her. We both looked at it with questionable awe, and also laughed our asses off while watching it. There was something inherently funny about this “band,” whether it was intentional or not.
As many of us are, I’m an Internet addict so in my never-ending quest for obscure knowledge about trivial things, I was possessed to look into this “Die Antwoord” thing deeper. From my Wikipedia and Youtube research, I found out that this was a collaboration between Watkin Tudor Jones a.k.a. NINJA and Yo-Landi Vi$$er on raps, with DJ Hi-Tek on….DJ stuff. They represent zef culture (which is basically white trash, African style) and have been friends with each other for nearly their whole lives. Ninja and Yo-Landi have a child together, but don't consider themselves in a "relationship." This information was all well and good, but the thing that really piqued my interest in this band was the fact that they’re from South Africa.
There are a few things I must divulge before going further, as it may help explain my fascination with not only Die Antwoord, but other forms of music that I listen to as well. First and foremost, I appreciate “authentic” music more than I do anything else. It’s something that started when I was a lad getting into underground metal music. There was something fascinating to me about the “New Wave of British Heavy Metal,” and how “death metal” sprung out of the sunny swamplands of Tampa, Florida, and how the “black metal” of Norway was burning down churches and killing each other. Even later in life, when I came to appreciate nearly all forms of music…the thing that really got me into “delta blues” was how it was a whole musical movement that was born from the product of its environment. It was music about the lives that the musicians were leading. The truth in their music made the blues so much more authentic and enjoyable to me.
It’s the same with death metal. It’s the same with black metal. You could say the same thing about reggae or even punk music and the Seattle grunge music scene. Music that is a product of its environment has always appealed to me more than anything else. I can’t explain why, but there’s something about Die Antwoord being from South Africa that speaks volumes to me. If they were from Akron, Ohio, I wouldn't give two shits about them.
I probably know a little bit more about South African culture than you would think, and yes, it derives from more than watching Die Antwoord videos on Youtube. One of my high school crushes was a girl who lived in South Africa for a year. She used to tell me what life was like there (albeit from a rich kid’s perspective). I thought "Lethal Weapon 2" was a kickass movie, and it actually led me to looking up what that whole Apartheid thing was about.
Even as an adult, there were 4 people who worked for the same company I did who were all from Africa. Two of them were from…wait for it…South Africa. I was on very cordial terms with the African folks, so of course I learned things about their lives in Africa simply by talking with them.
One of the things that “South African Friend #1” said will stick with me forever. He was describing to me what he thought the main difference was between life in America and life in South Africa:
“In America, any time something happens to someone there’s a lot of chaos and rules and regulations get passed to make sure it doesn’t happen again. In South Africa, it’s like if you cross the street and get hit by a car, then everyone knows not to cross the street when there’s a car coming. America just seems to coddle everyone.”
Anyway…along comes this Die Antwoord nonsense.
I hate rap. I hate white people who rap. I hate white people who think they are gangsta when they clearly aren’t. Am I racist against wiggers? You’re goddamn right I am. So why do I love this band so much? I refuse to believe it’s just because I’ve had South Africa on my subconscious since I was 16.
I’ve come to the conclusion that…fuck it, I don’t really need to explain why I dig the things I dig. Tastes are subjective, we all know this. But when someone who wouldn’t own an Eminem album to save his life is jamming out to Die Antwoord all the time, something just isn’t right.
Like I said before, I’ve always appreciated music borne of its own environment. The scene can make the music. If you don’t believe me, go look up Haight-Ashbury. There’s just something about Die Antwoord being the music that South Africa has produced that intrigues me. It certainly doesn’t help that their songs are catchy as hell and get stuck in my head all the time.
In a slightly-drunken haze I ordered their vinyl record from Amazon.com while jamming Youtube videos. Both Die Antwoord albums are on my phone. I made a best-of CD for my car. I regret nothing,
Pour it over, homeboys.