Caught up in the rat trap: Die Antwoord’s “Donker Mag” tour casts a spell on KC

Tory Foulk

On Wed., Sept. 17, South African rap-rave group Die Antwoord performed in Crossroads KC at Grinders as part of a tour to promote its third studio album, “Donker Mag.”
Comprised of high-energy rappers Yo-Landi Vi$$er and Ninja, along with beatsmith DJ Hi Tek, the group pulls from a multitude of influences, ranging from Snoop Dogg to South African artist and photographer Roger Ballen to electronic virtuoso Aphex Twin. Die Antwoord’s genre is impossible to pin down – one can hear hints of everything from gangsta rap to dream pop – but the members identify themselves as zef, an Afrikaans slang word meaning “common.” Vi$$er elaborated on this in an interview with “The Observer.”
“Zef is, you’re poor but you’re fancy. You’re poor but you’re sexy, you’ve got style,” Vi$$er said.
After a suspenseful wait, the show began as a masked DJ Hi Tek approached his setup to the crowd’s ecstatic screams. The eerie preshow music ceased, and Hi Tek dove into his only solo track on any Die Antwoord album, “DJ Hi Tek Rulez.” The reaction was immediate. The audience jumped and shrieked gleefully along with every obscene word.
The fervor and enthusiasm only increased when Ninja and Yolandi took the stage in matching neon orange jumpsuits, hoods up. The impish Vi$$er trilled the hook to “Fok Julle Naaiers” in her signature high-pitched taunt, and Ninja delivered rhymes with his usual ferocity, stepping to the edge of the stage and furrowing his brow at the crowd, as if daring them to rival his authority. The dichotomous duo exuded playful defiance. They waved their middle fingers with pride and the audience responded in tandem.
As the show progressed, Vi$$er and Ninja shed their hoodies and pants until they performed in nothing but their undergarments, flanked my masked dancers wearing the same. Every aspect of the performance fought violently for attention: the neon orange symbols on the equipment reflecting the blue lights, the incendiary raps, the thick beats, the giant inflatables, the video backdrop and the moving bodies saturated the senses of the spectators .
The crowd remained frenetic throughout the set, spellbound by Die Antwoord’s mischievous dark power, especially when Ninja plunged in for a stage dive and Yo-Landi gyrated cheekily in her tiny short-shorts.
After a ceremonial kneel in which all performers on stage took part, Die Antwoord ended with an encore performance of the viral “Enter the Ninja” – the single that captured international attention back in 2010 – reminding the audience that they’ve had an incomparable sound since the beginning, and don’t plan on compromising it anytime soon.