Die Antwoord - Ten$ion

2012-02-10 12:57
One thing you can't deny about zef-rave rappers Die Antwoord, is that they know how to make themselves seen and heard before they drop a new album. They hit the cover of Rolling Stone SA, launched the new video "I fink u Freeky", directed by Roger Ballen, and played on The Late Show with David Letterman. But does the new album's end justify the marketing means?

Their second album, Ten$ion's, lyrical content is jam packed with the group's personal lifestyle and industry changes; it's basically a press release statement written in rhyme. And if you think about it, that's what a proper rap album should be: to rap about being a rapper.

In between the rhyming press release every moral holy cow gets slaughtered - sex, nudity, violence, language profanity, religion and social ethics - all end up on the multi-cultural fire for a braai.

On "Uncle Jimmy (skit)" Ninja and Yolandi give the middle finger to their previous record label boss at Interscope, Jimmy Ivone, impersonating him and making him sound like a greasy old pervert.  

On "So what?" Ninja professes: "I rap for 20 years never made a cent / borrowed money from my mom to pay the rent" and then "broke ass Ninja gonna be a daddy / little baby Ninja gonna need some nappies".  Yolandi interrupts with "got a million fucking dollars in the bank / then I converted all my dollars into rands / that equals seven million in the bank / not too shitty fuck u Jimmy I'm a never give it back."

Commenting on the million dollars advance the group got when they signed at Interscope and other existential outbursts like these run like a golden thread through the album and you can really feel the tension.

The rest of lyrics will mostly spray paint phallic symbols and immoral obscurities on the walls of the listener's Super Ego of the Freudian psyche, which is disturbing and strangely entertaining at the same time. To prove my point just listen to "Fok julle naaiers" where DJ Hi Tek's scary voice rapes your ears.

DJ Hi-Tek's beats are fat here and there but mostly filled with cheesy 90's synth sounds and Atari blips, like on "Never Le Nkemise 1", "I fink u Freeky" and "Baby's on fire". On "Hey Sexy" the beats get an eastern crying guitar layer that gels well with the Persian doumbek drums. The track could easily pass for Missy Elliot's "Get your freak on"'s ugly South African cousin. You can't help but laugh when Ninja sings: "Suid-Afrika, fok ja!", while playing a parody on Team America's theme song – "America, fuck yeah!".

Coming back to the first question if the new album's end justifies the marketing means, I don't think so. Die Antwoord's phenomenal online presence just seems to totally surpass their product. And listening to the album without all the visuals or PR information may leave you a bit unsatisfied or just plain confused. 

If you're a diehard Antwoord fan however, you'll still have a jol on the tracks. And if you're just amused with them I think you'll have a better jol on the interwebs where you can see and read about the group and their antics.

Watch Die Antwoord's video "I Fink U Freeky" here:

Ten$ion is basically a press release statement written in rhyme. And if you think about it, that's what a proper rap album should be: to rap about being a rapper.

What to read next: Kalahari
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