So Die Antwoord recently did an interview with Xeni Jardine, and I can’t tell you how proud I am of them. For the last few months, I’ve been defending Die Antwoord to my Australian compatriots who view them as just… well, a joke. Here, watch this interview and make up your own mind…
As Ninja says, at one point… “We’re considered a national embarrassment”. And that’s what a lot of people are telling me, after watching their clips. The thing is, I’m beginning to wonder if you need to be South African to understand them.
You see, we “old school SA hip hop lovers” used to know “Ninja” by the name “Watkin Tudor Jones”… because Jones was, at one point, the leader of my favourite South African band of all time… Max Normal. Head over to my “Top South African Bands” post from a while ago, and you’ll see them listed there as band #27. You see, before Max Normal went through their “Max Normal TV” incarnation, they were just good old fashioned Max Normal. And they were awesome. And then we saw Jones disband the group at their height in 2002, and come back a few years later in the three piece suits and boardroom antics.
To be honest, at the time I was totally pissed with him for that, and it took me a long time to realise that we don’t “own” bands… they just let us chill with them for a while. But gradually, I began to understand…
It was clear that being “Normal” was the furthest thing from their minds.
Which is why, when “Die Antwoord” landed on the scene, I knew this was Watkin Tudor being… well, Watkin Tudor. To call the guy a chameleon is like saying water is pretty good at being wet.
So I’m going to ask you something. As a South African, I ask you to look deeper than the surface of their songs. Yo-Landi, in the interview above, calls their stuff “car crash music… you know you shouldn’t look, but you want to”. And that’s a damn insightful comment on what these guys are doing. It isn’t comfortable… it’s damn sure not pretty… but I want to make clear that it IS worthwhile music. Underneath that top layer, Waddy is still experimenting. On all of us.
And I want to see where this experiment goes. Not only for what it will tell South Africans about themselves… but also for what it will tell South Africans about how the rest of the world reacts.
- Die Antwoord’s “Enter The Ninja” music video…
- The guide’s profile on Watkin.
- The NME have their dreams shattered when they realise the Ninja didn’t just appear overnight.
I’m beginning to wonder about a few things, though… how many of these lives can Waddy live? How long before he becomes completely consumed by these characters? Is Ninja his most real personality? Does he even have one? Or… is he a reflection of all of us? I’m beginning to think that might be the case… because I know there’s a little bit of me in there.
Time will tell.