Wednesday, March 17, 2010
DIE ANTWOORD: ALL UP IN THE INTERWEB
Did you hear the one about Dr. Dre and Eminem flying Die Antwoord first class to America to discuss working with Interscope Records? How about the one where Ninja kissed Interscope chairman Jimmy "Crack Corn" Iovine on both cheeks, mafia style, then signed on the dotted line? Didn't their website take four million hits and crash like James Dean - in a smoking blaze of glory? Shit, I heard even Fred Durst and Neill Blomkamp are fans?
"This one's dedicated to all the haters out there. Jealous of us because we're better than you" - Die Antwoord.
It all started about a month and a half ago, when Die Antwoord launched Die Antwoord.com and stuck the music video for "Enter the Ninja" up on YouTube. A link to "Enter the Ninja" found its way to BoingBoing writer Xeni Jardin's inbox. She blogged the story, shared the link and Die Antwoord hit the mother-load, exploding "worldwide," from BoingBoing and The New York Times, to NME, Vice, Videogum, Pitchfork...
Enter the Ninja
Directed by Rob Malpage & Ninja
Shit, I remember picking up a copy of The Sunday Times and seeing Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er on the front page. "What the fuck's going on here?" "Die Antwoord became a living meme of unprecedented velocity, propelled into global megawebstardom faster than any act I've ever seen," wrote Jardin. All of a sudden, people from all over the world were posting Die Antwoord links on their Facebook pages, blogs, Twitter accounts and websites, and Die Antwoord had the kind of viral phenomenon on their hands that record labels spend millions trying to conjure up. And they did it all on their own. Based solely on the strength of their song ("Enter the Ninja") and the striking power of their image.
Naturally, half the people logging in to comment screamed FAKE as caps-locked and indignantly as their keyboards would allow. But you know what, there's nothing fake about Die Antwoord. Especially main man Ninja, aka Watkin Tudor Jones. He's been in the game long enough for most people to have given up and limped away, their tail between their legs, defeated. But Jones just kept plugging away. Kept trying new things. Kept believing. Kept ignoring the "haters." And the first time I heard "Enter the Ninja," I knew he had something special: visually, musically and existentially.
Die Antwoord are more than just a "rap-rave," "next level hip-hop" crew. They're conceptual, satirical, visually mesmerising and most of all, fucking interesting. I suspect that, by now, Ninja is quite insane. Interviewing him (first as Max Normal, then as Max Normal.TV, then as Ninja), I've never, for one second, doubted the dude's credibility. His unfaltering belief in what he's doing, when he's doing it and who he's doing it as. From The Constructus Corporation and The Original Evergreen, right through to Die Antwoord. There's just something special about the guy. He was put on this planet for a reason. And right now, that reason is Die Antwoord. But, based on his previous track record, how long 'til he transforms again?
Another Die Antwoord mystery is the true identity of DJ Hi-Tek. No, he's not that slow, Lord of the Flies-looking kid from the "Zef Side" video. He's not the short ninja with Progeria disease from the "Enter the Ninja" video either. No one knows who DJ Hi-Tek is, really. Although I suspect it's Cape Town beat-master Justin de Nobrega, who worked with Ninja on MaxNormal.TV and also provides synths for Cape Town electronic outfit Unit.R.
"I'm not skinny like this by choice," Ninja told Jardin when she interviewed him in Hollywood, talking about Die Antwoord signing to Interscope Records, Neill Blomkamp's expressed interest in working with the band and the prospect of meeting David Lynch. "We had no money forever. Now we're flying business class to America. And look at me, I'm eating berries and granola in Hollywood."
Currently, "Enter the Ninja" has been viewed 2,371,462 times on Youtube. And Waddy Jones, aka Ninja, aka Max Normal, aka MC Totally Rad, is a bonafide enigma of the South African (and now international) music scene. One thing I want to know is, who the hell is Stewart Ridgway?
"Fuck all of you who said I wouldn't make it" - Ninja.
Directed by Sean Metelerkamp
Total Fuck Up
Directed by MaxNormal.TV
Wat Kyk Jy?