So, it's not really a big deal to "get" Die Antwoord at this point. The day after their music video for "Enter the Ninja" went memeviralworldwidebuzzweb? Sure, a person could be understandably confused (and delighted) by this unlikely South Afrikaner hiphop act and their almost too perfectly styled white trash "zef" aesthetic. But as more videos surfaced, and as more blogs and media outlets unpacked the band and their background (briefly: media savy art school couple with a penchant for performance art gags), well, it's weird to still see articles like this one boggling at how impenetrable it all is.*
It's not impenetrable. It's a joke. And a performance. And an art project. And its actors are insanely committed to pulling it off, to the point of staying in character in public at all times, to the point of frontman Watkin Tudor Jones (aka Ninja) flashing a full back tattoo of new Interscope album title $O$ (with the "O" as a yin-yang symbol for extra low-brow yuks). There are shades of Vanilla Ice here (white rapping, reverence for ninjas) or Eminem (white trash pride), but it's a Vanilla whose ridiculousness is intentional, an Eminem whose white trash trappings are put on. If anything, what Die Antwoord's rise most resembles is that of Andrew WK: an overnight sensation arriving as fully formed human cartoon characters with their own insular worlds ("zef," partying) and attendant anthems. (One wonders if Die Antwoord might someday attempt a performance art identity breakdown as weird and baffling as AWK's, possibly one involving yin-yang tattoo removal.)
I was ready to hate these guys (and so, it seemed, was a lot of Deadmau5's crowd, a teenage raver hell of testosterone-y muscle-T bros and flesh-baring girls, many suffering from the kind of superhuman pastiness that only the combination of adolescence and club drugs can provide). And then something funny happened.