Friday, September 10, 2010

Die Vraag

Do you remember Die Antwoord? Of course you do, it was only February when people started picking up on a frankly very odd looking YouTube clip of, well, whatever it was. It was South African, and that's about all we could take for granted. It quickly made it into seven figure views and lit up the world's message boards. Then it turned out to be the work not of Afrikaan-white trash nuts but performance art-school pranksters, and most of the world stood down while Pitchfork and Stereogum held firm. You know, just in case.

And then Interscope went and signed them for five albums.

Enter The Ninja is out in the UK next week, which means it's being serviced to radio and UK promo. So, let's go right to the top. The Sun, how do you, in cahoots with the label/PR, present this one divorced of YouTube/blog culture to a fresh, possibly easy to lead audience?

Introducing hilarious new South African rave-rap act Die Antwoord...

Ninja credits Hi-Tek - who "owns a PC computer" - with pioneering their unique 'Zef Rap-Rave' sound, while the MC himself is responsible for the cutting lyrics about life in the ghetto.

Words like "open your mind as quick as a fart" give you an idea of the gritty turmoil inside his tortured mind.

Ninja and Yo-Landi demonstrate an aptitude for dancing in their YouTube videos, with the MC unveiling a fondness for wiggling his package around during close-up scenes.

They have no fucking clue, basically. Note how the writer attempts to take the piss, then realises he doesn't know where he is. This mostly applies to their British reception, the American coverage seems to take them at face value as far as their cultural claims go.

It's the use of that word 'hilarious' that gives it away, essentially. Rave-rap with a self-knowing sheen is Scooter's stock in trade; the lyrics or Yo-Landi's very being won't really shock anyone unprepared who's heard N-Dubz; few of us know what South African youth culture actually is or represents so we're willing to accept 'zef' as much as we've all seen chav pisstakes. Basically, our nearest comparative resource is Goldie Lookin' Chain, but Ninja is no Maggot in terms of what style is brought to the table.

From all of which, two interesting questions emerge. Can you be sold as a quasi-comedy act if the comedy has to be explained to you before you can appreciate it? And moreover, can the gap still be bridged between online culture and what actually sells? We'll find out next week, we suppose, but entrusting a viral hit to the kids that make up single sales these days is a precarious business, especially when you have little idea of how to translate that first "WTF OMG LOL" hit to repeated play.

According to Ninja/Watkin Tudor Jones's Wiki, he has a sideline in taxidermy. If only he could introduce that to the act, then we'd be away.

No comments: