Die Antwoord And ‘Zef’ – South Africa’s Biggest Non-Existent Scene

The past week has seen blogland erupt in a flurry of giddy viralling, when it seemed it had stumbled upon the most mind-boggling scene discovery since donk.

Die Antwoord leapt out our wildest dreams and into our hearts, a just-too-good-to-be-true South African rap-rave posse claiming to be the primary exponent of ‘zef’ (along with other local artists like Jack Parow), an indigenous Cape Town sound that fused early Nineties chart dance energy with an in-credi-tastic white-trash ghetto-rap attitude. In the space of 24 hours they’d become one of the most talked-about acts in ‘existence’.

Quickly an avalanche of attention poured onto Youtube, discovering a whole library of videos all posted from what appeared to be different members of the group’s dedicated fanbase. From slick promos to lo-fi live shots. The knee-jerk reaction was, of course, ‘this has to be a joke.’ A DJ that mysteriously morphed video-to-video between having progeria syndrome to being a silent tubby lad that lives with his nan? A helium-voiced, square-fringed goblinette hype girl and a frontman wearing Pink Floyd bermuda shorts that, well, err, we’ll let ‘Ninja’ himself illustrate his ‘flow’:


As bizarre as it all seemed, there appeared to be plenty of evidence backing up the group’s genuine career. Numerous blogs and magazines appeared to feature them as a real band at face value, take our pals at Stereogum and Vice, as well as label sites, fan sites, and of course there’s that infallible portal of fact that is Wikipedia. Maybe it was just overwelming wishful thinking, but caught up in the hysteria, we went against our better judgement, ignored the lurking clues, and swiftly went out and got copy-cat tattoos to match Ninja’s.

But as the world feverishly snuffled the vaults of virtual truth like escaped piglets at a spilling bin for more information on the history of ‘zef’, Die Antwoord and its various members, the plot thickened like curdling cream. Cross-referencing stories, the truth behind the band began to emerge. Tragically, the facts in this case not only turned out to be not quite as ‘strange’ as the fiction, but nowhere near as amazing.


Here’s Ninja aka cult music/comedy svengali Watkin Tudor Jones with a familiar looking side-kick in their previous hip hop-themed incarnation, Max Normal TV, a video-comedy-sketch-troupe-cum-live-conceptual-rap-act helmed by WTJ that took SA’s hipster-sphere by (mild) storm about a year-or-so ago. An SA-rap luminary of some time, having released two albums on Sony with his Original Evergreen clique (a kinda stoner frat-rap shindig) in the mid-90s, then going on to record under various solo and group aliases he began moving on to distinctly artier, more satirical territories, ending up in all-out performance-piece-ville…

Evidently WTJ’s long-standing links with the Puma and Jagermeister brands have helped the realisation of this latest surreal shit-spitting brainchild in more explosive, extensive and generally high-budget fashion than ever before.

Whilst it’s kind’ve ruined my week that neither ‘zef’ or Die Antwoord exist in this grey February real world, or at least if they do ‘exist’ technically-speaking, that aren’t what they claim to be, it hasn’t stopped me watching ‘Enter The Ninja’ at least five times a day, every day since Monday. The District 9 Ali G it may be, but like when Sacha Baron Cohen got Sir Rhodes Bison to blither on about the virtues on ‘getting caned in schools’ you’ve got to take your plastic neon baseball cap off to a well-executed prank. WTJ is evidently, as they say, ‘the man’. From what we’ve heard the Die Antwoord ‘performance piece’ is something they take very seriously indeed, with WTJ and Yo-Landi both spotted living and breathing their satirical roles on the streets of Cape Town, day-in day-out. They play shows, are releasing an album, and evidently recieve a massive response from a committed fanbase who know and follow WTJ’s work. And most of all, at the end of the day, a big choon’s a big choon, shall we have it just one more time? Yeah, why not…