Afrikaans rappers go global

By admin
12 February 2010

They’re “zef” - that’s “common” - and it has gained them cult status in England, Europe and America.

Afrikaans band Die Antwoord (The Answer) hasn’t sold a single CD and most Afrikaans musos or music fans haven’t heard of them. Yet the three rappers have become an overnight sensation and their music is spreading through the internet like a virus.

Enter the Ninja, one of their music videos, has received more than 480 000 hits on YouTube. Zef Side has had more than 350 000.

The group consisting of NINJA, YO-LANDI VI$$ER and DJ Hi-Tek now has an international recording contract and foreign publications are raving about the way they’ve turned everything “zef” about Afrikaans into “cool”.

Their lyrics are explicit, the language is crude, the music videos are suggestive and there’s a violent, pornographic undercurrent in their attitudes.

Yet people are flocking to their website. “It received almost three million hits in four days,” lead singer Ninja says.

He’s tall and thin with tattoos and wears a brightly coloured shirt and sunglasses pushed up onto his head. Yo-landi has a blonde mullet and white eyebrows and is in blood-red dungarees, pink socks and white takkies. DJ Hi-Tek works behind the scenes as their producer.

On 3 February a video clip of them was shown on the American TV programme Attack of the Show. After that there was chaos on their website.

They started the whole thing with DJ Hi-Tek on the computer in his room at home in the modest Cape Town suburb of Ysterplaat.

“Now we hear our songs are pumping heavy in Holland and Europe and are most popular in America,” Ninja says.

But not everyone is impressed. Musician Koos Kombuis, a wild talent in his day, is sceptical. “It irritates me a bit. You have to be careful about swearing without a context - people quickly get sick of it.”

Singer Chris Chameleon, who along with his band Boo! has worn dresses on stage, disagrees. “Their music is deliberately tongue in cheek,” he says

Those in the know say the group is busy with an intellectual experiment. “It’s not just noisy, foul-mouthed music; it’s satire. It sends up Afrikaans culture and doesn’t take itself too seriously,” says music journalist Annie Klopper.

“Our message is the youth must do what excites them. We’re not monsters, just lively - that’s all,” Ninja says.

Yo-landi adds: “We’re bigger than Kurt Darren. We’re living our dream.”

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