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Die Antwoord – the most pop savvy trolls on the interwebz

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19 October 2012

yolandi blackfaceAs link-bait goes Die Antwoord’s Fatty Boom-Boom is probably the slickest ever produced. As trolling and attention seeking it is arguably the most elaborate and most effective ever.

If you missed it – In the video, Lady Gaga – wearing her meat dress – gets hi-jacked in Johannesburg, gives birth to a District 9 like prawn, and then gets eaten by a lion. To top it off, Yolandi wears blackface, in what must be a pre-meditated up yours to blog posts that wondered whether they were indeed blackface, and by extension, racist.

We have documented Die Antwoord’s early marketing genius, which revolved around a fantastic music and pop sensibility, catchy tunes and tapping into some of South Africa’s under-explored but fascinating identities. To be sure Die Antwoord’s music, even if you don’t like rap, rave or breakbeat, is masterfully composed and some of the best examples of those genres mixed together in colourful riot.

Since those romantic early days the group has continued to get noticed but the tactics have changed somewhat. Now their work is delivered with ever increasing bombastic attention seeking but superbly executed videos. The song and video Fok Julle Naaiers, for example, includes the homophobic and sexist outbursts of Mike Tyson, but of course set to a phat beat.

Die Antwoord could have chosen a more conventional route. Die Antwoord signed with Lady Gaga’s Interscope label. But Interscope wanted them to tone down their lyrics. Die Antwoord said no.

Lady Gaga asked them to open for her. Visually there’s a natural fit between Die Antwoord and Gaga. But her music is awful even by pop music’s current low standards. Die Antwoord said no.

That took some balls and self belief. To consistently produce stellar content is very difficult. There is nothing as old as yesterday’s viral hit. Die Antwoord could have stranded as a mid sized internet phenomena, famous on Boing Boing and 4Chan.

But we of little faith did not properly take into account Die Antwoord’s not-so-secret weapon – high energy trolling coupled with creativity, attention to detail and big TV production delivery.

Last night, Lady Gaga took the bait.

And many of her 30 million followers heard of Die Antwoord for the first time. Die Antwoord 1 – Lady Gaga 0.

But this question remains to be answered: Is it good to be known but not loved?

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