Die Antwoord Brings Shock Rap to Atlanta
South African shock rap duo Die Antwoord (Ninja & Yo-Landi) has been on the world’s radar since they burst onto the scene with the video for “Enter The Ninja." With the support of DJ Hi-Tek, they created a heavy driving sound that mashed together the energy of a techno rave with the aggression and bounce of gangster rap. They embody “Zef” life, a South African slang term for a sort of glamorous poverty that is both self-aware and unashamed of its tacky, gaudy brashness.
Their live performance perfectly mirrored the image they have cultivated through their music and videos. Jumping between sensations of horror, humor, and perhaps even mental illness; their on stage personas came to life in full force with stunts like Ninja flashing his bare ass at the crowd, and the burly DJ Hi-Tek wearing a twisted face mask through the entire performance. At one point, when the crowd pointed out that there was a twelve-year-old kid in the audience, it elicited a wave and a quick hello from Ninja before the insane vulgarities continued. The total disregard for the rules was actually somewhat charming, as it was clear that their intention wasn’t to hurt anyone, but merely to provoke and test the limits of censorship.
Sadly, as usual, the Tabernacle felt so packed full of people that dancing wasn’t an option as we were forced to keep pathways clear and cram in shoulder to shoulder next to strangers. So, it was impossible to move up to the middle of the dance floor, which disappointingly was the only part of the crowd moving at all. Everyone just seemed like they were there to spectate and gawk at the mania on stage without contributing any of their own energy. I had been looking forward to this show for ages, and tried to enjoy myself, but it was hard when the 30-something crowd around me was just staring at the stage rather than dancing, and it would have forced me to push and elbow my way through the swarm to get any closer than I was. One guy apparently didn’t care and just barreled his way through the crowds, nearly knocking several people over in the process. I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again: The Tabernacle sells too many tickets to their events.
If I’m able to look past the cramped conditions (and the $23 double Crown & Coke), it was actually a great show. Ninja and Yo-Landi had tons of energy on stage, and in between their songs, DJ Hi-Tek played a great selection of EDM, particularly big trap hits from the last couple years. They were accompanied on stage by a pair of dancers who wore everything from jump suits to morph suits to skimpy tube tops. It was a very immersive show, with Ninja frequently jumping into the crowd, but I just wish I could have been more a part of it without having to elbow my way past the spectators.