By Sean Fennessey
Never trust a viral video. The members of South African trio Die Antwoord (English translation: The Answer) are hilarious. Or they're brilliant. Or they're fake. Or they're racist. Or they're evil. Or their music is terrible. Either way, their Web ubiquity has made them difficult to judge in the traditional sense.
Comprised primarily of box haircut-sporting lead MC Ninja and chipmunk-throated female vocalist and rapper Yo-Landi Vi$$er, Die Antwoord has infiltrated culture in a way that would have been impossible 10 years ago. But after their trash culture-celebrating "Zef Side" video hit YouTube in January and quickly launched a swirl of bewildered acclaim the following month, they were hailed as boondocks weirdos, pranksters and evolutionary rap stars. The group was signed to Interscope Records in less than six weeks.
This reworked version of their initially self-released debut will forever be an example of micro-meme culture writ large, but it will mostly be an obnoxious album, too. Ninja and Vi$$er are fascinating vocalists and students of hip-hop, able to modulate their voices, rap in Afrikaans and English, weave in snatches of historical rap aphorisms, dazzle with structure and bleat like wounded goats. The group's production has been described as rave-rap, but that shortchanges the ominous sound of some of these songs. "Evil Boy," produced by Diplo, is a baffling treatise on phantasmagoric sex - their choice theme throughout. The eerie "She Makes Me a Killer" features a Jimmy Soul interpolation filtered through Jeffrey Dahmer's psyche. Die Antwoord has mastered a kind of cinnamon bun-style pop - tastes good to the last bite, but when you've finished, you're covered in slime.
Recommended tracks: "Enter the Ninja," "She Makes Me a Killer"