Die Antwoord - $0$
Watch Die Antwoord's new music video, Evil Boy, here. Warning: NSFW. To listen to song clips off the new album, click on the player below.
As pervasive as the group's presence may be on the pop culture message boards and in the social network psyche, Die Antwoord's $0$
is also dangerously and imminently disposable. The truth is that the project is so hyper-stylised (yes, it is stylised, get over it), that it is logically going to be both hugely popular and infamous for the wrong reasons.
Die Antwoord should be acclaimed and respected for their approach to the craft. Whether that be the inventive manner in which the rhymes and sounds get put together (and torn apart), or that they have the courage of conviction in the first place to take what they do to the extreme they do. And make it work to a large degree.
"She Makes Me A Killer", for example, is a legitimate highlight artistically - funny, offensive (and hilariously offensive), smart and just plain cool in equal measure. The same brilliance shines through in many other places, notably on "Doos Dronk" (which features peers Jack Parow and Francois van Coke), and Ninja in particular hits some crazy high spots on "Evil Boy" and "Fish Paste".
But the length of the album shows up the novelty of the concept. And the repeated pre-emptive "fuck-yous" to anyone who may point that out or doubt the group's brilliance is self-defeating. The only thing that the continual critical rejection succeeds in building is an impenetrable ivory tower.
Problem is that it's impenetrable from both directions: Sure, it overprotects Die Antwoord from whatever criticism may be lobbed at them, but it also makes what they do largely inaccessible, viewable only from an uncoverable distance – effectively discounting Die Antwoord's good points, and replacing it with spectacle.
Maybe that's the point of pop these days. And maybe having no choice but to call it pop will end up being the greatest insult of all in the long term. It's probably best to buy the album as an artefact of artistic daring, but not as a representation of any particular type of South African-ness – or anything else, for that matter.
How to be your own worst enemy, even when your work is artistically commendable.