The Brilliant Weirdness of Die Antwoord

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By Eve Fairbanks, The New York Times Magazine

“We r taking 1 day / nite off 2 get really drunk wif some homies in a dodgy hood in Johannesburg called FIETAS on New Years Eve,” the e-mail read. “Dere are always fights in Fietas on New Years Eve which should be fun.” And so Ninja, the leader of the South African rap-rave crew Die Antwoord, invited me to ring in 2012 in the lair of zef, the scene the band brought to the world two years ago with a viral music video called “Zef Side.” Zef is the nasty, freaky, gleefully trashy underbelly of post-apartheid white South African culture. It is bling and bruises and weed-whacker mullets like the one sported by Yo-Landi Vi$$er, the tiny blonde who orbits Ninja like a foulmouthed muse. 

On the appointed night, though, things almost got too zef for Die Antwoord. The photographer who was commissioned to shoot the band showed up to the party house with two boxes of white doves for Ninja and Yo-Landi to play with. A makeshift studio was assembled on the second floor. When I went to check out the shoot, the photographer gestured toward the room next door. “Look what happened to the birds,” he said.

Inside, a cat crouched next to a ripped-open box of doves, surrounded by feathers.

Yo-Landi once posed with a live rat between her breasts. But a dead dove? She winced. Ninja looked appalled. “I’m sorry,” he said, petting one of the remaining doves paternally.  Read more ...