SUCK ON THIS: Die Antwoord Drops Pre-Candy Mixtape

“Kick back, pop some shamps or crack a brew, spark a fat blunt and SUCK ON THIS,” advises Die Antwoord on how to best enjoy their new mixtape, aptly titled SUCK ON THIS.

Today’s 13-track drop follows the release of “Dazed and Confused,” featuring GOD, and provides fans with some fresh material ahead of the South African duo’s forthcoming studio album, WE HAVE CANDY, which they’ve been working on for two years with THE BLACK GOAT and GOD in Los Angeles’ SOUL ASSASSINS studio.

“About 2 months ago we found out that rappers in the USA usually drop a free mixtape for their fans before they drop their album,” notes Ninja in a press release. “So we thought, ‘Hey we wanna do that’ […] We quickly popped out some fresh NEW tracks for our mixtape, and we also thought it would be really special to ask THE BLACK GOAT and GOD to remix some of our old shit.”

Download the follow-up to 2014’s Donker Mag or stream it, below:

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Listen: New Die Antwoord Track ‘Dazed & Confused ft. GOD’

Provocative South African rappers Die Antwoord have dropped a new track. In collaboration with GOD (the producer, not The Almighty), “Dazed & Confused” is an eerie, reggae-tinged stunner, and a teaser from the Suck On This mixtape, due May 19.

Fourth album We Have Candy is still planned for a spring release.

 

Video Exclusive: Die Antwoord Invades Milk Studios for Our September Issue

When Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er, two-thirds of the South African rave-rap group Die Antwoord, showed up to Milk Studios to pose for a story in our September Reinvention issue, we had some idea what to expect. Their “Enter the Ninja” video had already been viewed more than five million times on YouTube, and they were booking high-profile shows all over the place. Indeed, the unlikely pair did live up to their cartoonish hip-hop personae by mugging and thugging for the camera. What we didn’t expect, however, was that Ninja would insist on stopping the shoot midway through so he could skip over to the Ace Hotel and fetch his favorite pair of Dark Side of the Moon boxers. We’d say it was totally worth it. Check out the theatrics after the jump.

Video above.

Straight Outta Cape Town, Die Antwoord Invades America

Early last February, a curious music video began circulating the internet. In it, a skeletal, middle-aged man claiming to be a ninja raps fast and furiously in a muscular South African staccato over a soaring rave beat. The song’s chorus, sung at a ghostly pitch, is a plea for the gold-toothed ninja’s protection, brought to life by an anime Lolita with no discernible eyebrows and a bleach-blond box-cut. Quick cuts to a shriveled thug in baggy hip-hop clothes add to the theatrics of it all. (That “thug,” it turns out, is artist Leon Botha, a progeria survivor.) Across the web, the reaction was the same: Are these guys for real?

The answer is yes, sort of. Ever since the video for “Enter the Ninja” went viral (over five million hits on YouTube and climbing), the group behind it, South African hip-hop artists Die Antwoord (Afrikaans for “The Answer”), has become a cultural sensation. Most internet stars quickly ignite and expire in cyberspace, but Die Antwoord is using the surge of attention to make the unlikely leap from hip-hop sideshow to mainstream success.

In a suite at Manhattan’s Ace Hotel, Ninja, the group’s 45-year-old leader, and his bandmate Yo-Landi Vi$$er sit next to each other on a sofa. (DJ Hi-Tek, who rounds out Die Antwoord’s threesome, does not travel due to a crippling fear of flying.) Ninja greets me with an unexpectedly warm handshake and smile. He is soft-spoken and stutters often, struggling to find words that match his meaning. It’s a far cry from the menacing stage performer who spits crisp lyrics at lightning speed. It’s also jarring to see these two, so kinetic and adrenaline-pumped on screen and on stage, looking so relaxed.

The members of Die Antwoord identify themselves as a “zef ” hiphop group, South African slang for “white trash.” They look the way their music sounds, all hyper-cartoonish flourishes masking a much drearier low-income existence. Vi$$er, constantly twirling her gutter-punk hair, wears red boxers and a baggy T-shirt. Ninja is wearing slippers he might have stolen from a retirement home along with shorts and a matching gray sweatshirt. Both have scraggly tattoos that look homemade, and many of them are. On the top of his left hand, Ninja has five ink dots he says were inspired by his father. “When he worked at the harbor, people used to steal his tools. He marked them with these dots so he’d know which ones were his.” Okay, but why tattoo himself? “It’s cheaper,” he says with a grin.

They speak of “futuristic zef styles” and “flexing on some shit” in foreign lingo that sounds authentic enough to American audiences who haven’t kicked it on the streets of Cape Town. On the internet, however, where borders and oceans evaporate, that authenticity has been questioned. They’ve been described as rap satirists and performance artists, but Vi$$er insists, “We don’t even know what those words mean. People think too much about shit.” Ninja, born Watkin Tudor Jones, has even been compared to Sacha Baron Cohen of Brüno and Borat fame. When asked about the skeptics, Ninja glares, stone-faced. With fire in his eyes, he asks, “What do you think? I’m right in front of your face.” If Ninja is putting on an act, it’s impossible to tell.

The widespread skepticism has a lot to do with Ninja’s well-known history in the South African underground hip-hop scene. He has adopted several personae throughout his career: At the turn of the millennium, he went by Max Normal and fronted the rap collective MaxNormal.tv, of which Vi$$er was also a member. Before forming Die Antwoord, he also collaborated with local artists on an ambitious multimedia project called The Constructus Corporation, which included an 88-page graphic novel. YouTube videos of a pre-Ninja Jones show him as his old alter-egos, dressed in conventional suits and wool-knit cardigans.

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The nature of Vi$$er and Ninja’s relationship is similarly muddled. Some reports say they’re married with a daughter. They will neither confirm nor deny this rumor. Instead, they insist their origin story will be revealed in their upcoming feature film, The Answer. To be directed by Ninja (who also helmed “Enter the Ninja”), and set to star all three members, they insist it will be based on a true story, or at least their version of the truth. “The producers wanted to make an American adaptation,” says Ninja. He adds, joking, “Charlize Theron would play Yo-Landi and Bruce Willis would play Ninja.”

According to their website, Ninja taught Vi$$er how to rap, but he says the group’s zef elements are her contribution, and that she is his muse. “I kind of copied her, or was influenced by her,” he says. It’s a surprising admission from a man who seems to be the group’s driving creative force. “In South Africa, zef is like a diss,” Ninja says. “Then we started fucking with it a bit.” The results are elastic songs with lyrics that yoke together English and Afrikaans slang, the majority of which is considered vile in their home country. “Afrikaans is a conservative language,” Ninja says. “But then there is a coarser, often unspoken language. Yo-Landi started swearing jokingly in her lyrics. She began with ‘Wat kyk jy fok jou,’ which means, ‘Look here, fuck you.’ The wild kids up front at our shows started screaming, ‘Yo-Landi! Yo-Landi! Wat kyk jy fok jou!’ It was affectionate. But then everyone else was like, ‘Whoa! What the hell? You can’t say that!’” Vi$$er adds, “It’s not something you package and record. We’re a national embarrassment.”

This is a source of pride for the group. They list with glee the taboo words they’ve turned into “catchphrases,” as they call them. In South Africa, “Your mother’s puss in a fish paste jar” is an insult; for Die Antwoord, it’s a song title. But for all their filthy turns of phrase, Die Antwoord’s notion of zef transcends offensive lyrics and DIY tattoos. “It’s when you don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks,” Ninja says. “But it’s not like a mental person running around nude in the streets. It’s about bringing something new to the party.” If zef is a state of mind, are there any American artists who embody it? “No, zef is South African,” he says bluntly. “Hip-hop is from America, and for a long time we were influenced by the booming New York style of rap and its ‘Yo, yo, yo! Check us fuckin’ out!’ But Yo-Landi was also influenced by rave music. Whereas America is good at stylizing presentation, South Africa is awkward and broken and shy and insecure. We want to represent that.”

They’ll get the opportunity to do just that with the release of their debut album, $O$, out late next month. Following a bidding war between labels, the group signed with Interscope Records, ringmaster of controversial acts like Eminem and Lady Gaga. “All these people were trying to be our friends,” Ninja says. “We got offered more money from other labels, but they had nerdy teams. [Interscope chairman] Jimmy Iovine is not a nerd. It was like two forces merging.” Adds Vi$$er, “He was the only person who was willing to take the risk. No one is allowed to tame our flame.”

Ninja and Vi$$er expect that flame to burn for exactly five albums. The follow-up to $O$, Ten$ion, has already been recorded, and after that Die Antwoord will simultaneously release The Voice, Vi$$er’s solo album, and The Dominator, Ninja’s solo album. “It’s a battle to see who sells more,” Ninja says. Their fifth album is a secret. After that, they’ll stop. This early in the band’s career, there’s no telling what their legacy will be, but Ninja has big dreams: “In South Africa, it’s Nelson Mandela, District 9, and Die Antwoord.”

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Photography by Mark Squires.

Creators Project: The Event of the Summer?

It was hot on Saturday afternoon when people started lining up to claim their wristbands for Creators Project, an all-day celebration of art and technology hosted by Intel and Vice at New York’s Milk Studios. There was a sea of anxious party-goers, and for all of the obvious reasons, I was expecting to hate the event, much like every other detestable summer festival. But this one was different. Ten reasons why after the jump.

1. The lines of people waiting to get their names checked on a list were actually stationed on 18th Street, three blocks up from Milk’s 15th Street location, which meant that the entrance to the actual event was absent of the kind of name-droppers who flirt with bouncers to get in. It was actually sort of insane to walk right up to event and, well, walk right into the event.

2. The food was free. Sure, it was hamburger fare, but at least they were Pop Burger burgers!

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3. The doors opened at 2 in the afternoon, and were expected to close about 12 hours later, which, when you’re in a photo studio with tons of other sweaty revelers, can feel a bit like this. It can also get a touch boring. But the Creators had it covered, airing the USA’s final World Cup game out on the loading dock, where Gang Gang Dance, Interpol, and the Rapture would later play.

4. Often, when there are free drinks involved, they come in a variety of awful names and flavors. There was a bit of that at Milk—here’s looking at you, Cosmic Collins—but bars were also fully stocked with beer, wine, and liquor.

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5. If you go to the MoMA early in the afternoon, their bathrooms look like Toronto after the G-20. Astonishingly, Milk attendants were kept things tidy throughout the course of the day.

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6. The art installations were remarkable. From a cube of flashing, synchronized, colored lights into which guests were invited one by one, to a completely immersive virtual performance by the XX, to a digital scanning machine straight out of Philip K. Dick, the works of art on display were welcoming, interactive, and totally unlike anything I’d ever seen before.

7. The Pop Song panel. Want to watch Mark Ronson create a pop song in under an hour, using vocals from the audience? So did we. Also: holy shit.

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8. There were no filler bands—not even the Rapture, about whom I was least excited. The only slight caveat to this is that still-fantastic Sleigh Bells are, counter-intuitively, better in the studio than on stage, and M.I.A. wasn’t killing it. But, oh my god, Die Antwoord, Interpol, Salem, Gang Gang Dance, Mark Ronson, and MNDR: thank you.

9. James Powderly’s laser-pointer show during Interpol’s set was pretty wonderful. How often can one stand near the West Side Highway, listening to “Evil,” while watching someone draw a bunch of giant dicks on the side of an adjacent building with lasers? Answer: not all that often.

10. While all of that was happening, there was a gelato stand offering up free flavored ices!

Photography by Garrett Pruter

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