Jeff Jarrett once said of professional wrestling, “For those who don’t understand, no explanation is sufficient; for those who do understand, no explanation is necessary.”
Alan Cross once said of The Ramones, something to the extent that for those who “got it”, it was wonderful; for those who didn’t, it was horrific.
And that’s what’s on my mind again as I continue my obsession with the “fake” rap-rave band, Die Antwoord. (Continued from my last post.)
On my five hour drive last night, I listened to their CD “$O$” on continuous loop. I didn’t expect to like its profane nonsense so much. Reminds me of my reaction, as a pimply-faced youth, to Bowie’s Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, The Smiths’ The Queen Is Dead and The Stone Roses’ first album.
Sure, the musicality is not up to those lofty marks…. but the sheer originality is! You have to understand: I’ve been starved for genuine creativity these many days, and I don’t think I’m the only one.
So what is it about this freaky band that so obsesses me? Well, imagine that Sacha Baron Cohen had created a South African Borat, but that he was so committed to his project that he lived the Borat persona 24/7 for months on end, and in the process created a fake history, a semi-fake musical movement, and also, remarkably, recorded some truly bad-ass, original music. That’s Die Antwoord.
And I like the attitude. This whole “if you get it, great; if you don’t, fuck off” is really appealing to me. Case in point is their video for “Evil Boy“:
The song is actually about the true plight of the guest rapper, Wanga, who’s a Xhosa youth who is being pressured into accepting ritual circumcision; failure to do so has caused him to be ostracized from his community. He doesn’t want to be ritually circumcised –a process in which the tribal elders take him into the bush, take hold of his penis, then slice off the adult foreskin without anaesthetic– since many youths are either maimed or killed by the sloppy process. His semi-humorous accusation is that these pervy old men are just eager to get their hands on his penis. “Evil Boy” is a sculpture of a smiling boy with an enormous erection, so Wanga’s chant is that he doesn’t need to become the “man” that the circumcision will make him; he’d rather remain an “Evil Boy” for life.
But if you didn’t know the back story, you’d assume the video was a standard US-style homophobic/homoerotic pointless rant about sex and hard-ons. And that’s intentional… it’s all about the “if you aren’t in the know, then fuck off” mentality. As an aside, as a result of listening to their music, I find myself swearing a lot more, and even gravitating toward that marvelous Afrikaans brand of profanity. Yes, I’m concerned.
(It’s also weirdly cool and fascinating that at 1:04 there’s an appearance of a hot Goth chick with no nipples. Now that‘s different.)
Not convinced that they’re an extensive art project, and not –as many people are still convinced– just a bunch of white trash Capetown kids? Check out this extended interview:
Note the cleverness by which “Ninja” evades the direct questions, while managing to paint himself as an increasingly deeper moron. What resonates with me is when he (seemingly stupidly) says that the only real things are the unexpected things, and that everything else is illusion.
That’s why this is all so “real” to me… it’s been a while since I’ve seen or heard anything truly “unexpected”.
But let’s not get too pointy-headed about all this. Let’s just enjoy the performances. (The weirdest bit occurs 2:24-2:40).
Yeah, they’re “fake”. But so what?