In support of its fourth studio album, Mount Ninji and Da Nice Time Kid, the funky fre$h South African rap-rave duo Die Antwoord are set to perform at Echostage this upcoming Sunday.
Hailing from the streets of Cape Town, Die Antwoord is a truly distinct act with an unprecedented musical approach and image. Consisting of rappers Ninja and Yolandi Visser, Die Antwoord aims to awaken its audience from the dull human experience through not only its next-level beats but also with abrasive, shocking and ultimately creative visual output.
A quick Google image search of Die Antwoord leads you to a plethora of images that demonstrate the group's effortless beautification of macabre and weirdness. Its videos are bold, displaying bizarre themes that engulf its audience easily through the frenetic appearance of the act.
It would be hard to describe Die Antwoord in one word, but the group and its loyal fan base self-identify as products of the "zef" style. The term, popularized by the band, encompasses much of the group's appeal and is best defined as a counter-cultural movement with a focus on unapologetic apathy to how others perceive you, placing individualism and total control above all.
It's not just the group's videos and music that scream "I don't give a fuck" — it's also the duo's memorable actions. When faced with creative pressure by Interscope Records, the band left the label to form Zef Recordz. When approached by Lady Gaga to open for her 2012 South African "Born This Way" tour, the duo didn't just decline but boldly spoofed the singer in its video for "Fatty Boom Boom." And after the film Suicide Squad hit theaters earlier this year, Visser publicly accused director David Ayer of stealing the group's style.
The group dares to enter deranged territory, and while the duo boasts an elaborate and intimidating presence, it does not distract from its delightfully chaotic sound. Die Antwoord's videos, sometimes blurring the line between shocking and harassing its audience, do not conform to the typical portrayal of pop artists today. Instead, the group's media projects are a result of intricate collaborations with other artists such as photographer Roger Ballen. The duo's vision and drive is unrestrained by the music industry, as Ninja directs several of the music videos and the duo star in several media projects outside of the band, such Neill Blomkamp's film Chappie and the short film Umshini Wam by Harmony Korine.
Students traveling from the College Park metro station can take the train to the NoMa-Gallaudet Station and Echostage will provide a shuttle to and from the venue. I got a chance to see the duo perform twice, once in September 2014 at Echostage and again in August 2015 during the Moonrise Festival. Both times, I was impressed with not only the rappers undying on-stage energy, but their value and emphasis on interacting with the enthusiastic audience. Die Antwoord's new record continues to push the boundaries of rap music. Missing a chance to see the act live wouldn't be just like foregoing any concert — it would be a lost opportunity to experience a truly idiosyncratic act.