Posted in Artist Profiles, South Africa, Student Projects

A Critique and Discussion of Die Antwoord

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South African Hip Hop Group Die Antwoord

Many times it is easy to celebrate African hip hop by viewing the many prominent and popular artists that have emerged and risen to local and global fame. From mainstream English rapping  to conscious native rhymes, hip hop in Africa has completely evolved and globalized. What can be overlooked is the small section of white African rappers, specifically from South Africa. Because of its historical backdrop, its understandable how the black hip hop community in South Africa would not particularly recognize or uplift the white hip hop community. Taking an insight at South African white rap group Die Antwood allows us to clearly see the rift and distortion of hip hop between the two groups. Created in 2008, Die Antwoord (Afrikaans for “The Answer”) is formed by Ninja and Yolanda Visser from Capetown, South Africa. Their image is based on the counterculture known as Zef, which has been described by them as “you’re poor, but you’re fancy. You’re poor, but you’re sexy, you’ve got style”and is visible in their music videos and lyrics. Their electro-pop presence matched with their lyrics create a mixture of gaudy outfits and fast paced songs. Songs like “Baby’s On Fire” and “I Fink U Freeky”are as complex as their titles with lyrics like “motherfuckers get buzzed off the spice I bring/ Guess who’s got the party jumpin?/ Glow in the dark rave, aura pumping”. When looking at the large scale picture of South African rap they are certainly one of a kind. However, underneath the surface the issues with this group are all too familiar. They have left the dark and deep depth of hip hop and have just scraped the glittery surface and shoved it in their pockets. Their songs are in English and Afrikaans, a language used mostly by white Afrikaners. They’ve explained that Zef represents South Africa because “racism is somewhat obsolete and a thing of the past for South Africans”. While its true they are a form of cultural expression and may be doing “all that they know” it does not translate to fully accepting and understanding the culture of hip hop. They have taken the face and style of hip hop and used it as a surface to leap bounds with their shocking lyrics but have seemed to have left everything else behind.

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