Release Date: Jun 3, 2014
Record label: Kobalt
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock
Primal scream therapy is fine, but there are days when dropping trousers, turning up the rave music to a deafening levels, and spraying cake batter about the kitchen while screaming vulgarities in the Afrikaans language is the only solution. For those days, Die Antwoord's debut album $o$ was the lone available soundtrack, since their sophomore effort Ten$ion had dead spots where one might awaken from this beautiful nightmare and catch their shameful selves in the mirror, but happy mania days are here again on Donker Mag, so crack open some glow sticks and get that loincloth out of the dryer. Coming on strong with that quirky, kewpie doll hook from singer Yo-Landi Vi$$er and those wonderfully dumb, wonderfully wicked lyrics from rapper Ninja, the opening "Ugly Boy" is the first sign that the drugs are all good on the South African duo's/electro-freakshow's third album.
In a recent contentious article, PopMatters’ Evan Sawdey questioned why the band OK Go had stopped making good songs, focusing instead on making catchy videos “at the cost of their credibility. ” OK Go’s Damien Kulash had a lot to say about this. In a follow-up interview, Sawdey and Kulash discussed the erosion of boundaries between “THIS type of creativity and THAT type of creativity” in a digital world, and Kulash deconstructed the idea that his band is sacrificing credibility in making videos, pointing out that music today is “a more ephemeral experience, and sometimes a more total and encompassing one.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. If you choose to believe Interscope, Lady Gaga, conservative South African academics and media, Die Antwoord (Afrikaans for "The Answer") are allegedly a homophobic, racist, plagiarising and hit-less 'elaborate act'. The Cape Town duo's aggressive and chaotic hybrid of Afrikaans, Xhosa and English slang and expletive-filled lyrics, early '90s rave, rap beats and provocative imagery has led to outrage aplenty in the last six years, as well as questions around the group's authenticity and representation of modern day South Africa, most notably as pioneers of the country's 'zef' culture.
Four years ago, South African rap duo Watkin Tudor Jones and Anri Du Toit (a.k.a. Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er) announced their plan to record five albums before transforming into a new act. Their third LP, though, finds them plying similar ground to their first two: It's a punishing set of disjointed beats, crass profanities ("raging zef boner") and overstuffed artificial components.
Die Antwoord is like no other band on the planet, having earned their kitschy, South African Zef-side superlative through a combination of badboy raunch, à la frontman Ninja (Watkin Jones), intriguing high-pitched asides from the spirited Yolandi Visser, and a gutterpunk club-kid vibe that pulses off producer DJ Hi-Tek. Past singles, such as the catchy “Enter the Ninja” as well as the Diplo-produced “Evil Boy”, worked their way onto a number of playlists and club rotations, helping the band secure a frenzied live show prestige as a must-see act at any music festival. Die Antwoord’s bombastic concerts and larger than life stage personas are not to be missed.
When Die Antwoord introduced themselves to the world with ‘Enter The Ninja’, an equal parts cloying and intriguing rap track that splattered across the internet in 2010, much of the early press coverage focused on the group’s history: tattooed vocalist-mastermind Ninja was no hungry kid fresh from the ghetto, but the latest incarnation of Watkin Tudor Jones, a white MC in his mid-30s who had toiled in various Cape Town groups since around 1995. This might have mattered more if Die Antwoord were invoking ‘Zef’ – an Afrikaans term meaning, loosely, ‘poor but sexy’ – solely to approximate some sort of working-class authenticity. Yet Die Antwoord appear very much a thing of careful and fastidious construction.
It seems that with each release from Die Antwoord, the same questions need to be asked: Does the band rely too much on shock tactics? Is it taking shots at or upholding an overly macho EDM/hip-hop stance? Part of the fun of listening to a Die Antwoord record, though, is attempting to answer these questions, because the band doesn’t provide any easy answers. On their latest, Donker Mag, the duo of Ninja and Yo-Landi continue to revel in depravity alongside pummeling, bass-heavy productions. Donker Mag, if nothing else, is a gold mine of song titles.