What’s with Die Antwoord?
by Devan Norman
From sitting front row at Alexander Wang’s fashion show, to playing sold-out crowds near Emerson College’s campus, South African hip-hop group Die Antwoord seems to have made its presence in real life more tangible than ever before. People in the United States are starting to see more and more Die Antwoord (which is Afrikaans for “The Answer”), which exploded on the internet a few years ago. The group is the perfect example of humanity’s obsession with the grotesque and bizarre.
It is comprised of Yo-Landi Vi$$er (the woman), Ninja (the man), and DJ Hi-Tek (the other guy you barely see in public with the main duo). Its typical aesthetic makes a classic fashion appreciator cringe; it’s the kind of group that makes older generations mutter about “those kids.” But, I think this is the case in the best possible way.
Alexander Wang was quick to tap into its grungy appeal, choosing the two main group members to star in the video for his spring/summer T by Alexander Wang line. The video works perfectly, meshing the mainly casual look of the line with the rougher edges of the band mates. With Die Antwoord music playing and Yo-Landi and Ninja in front of the camera, the video is a success. Designers are catching on to the trend of fashion videos as a form of additional promotion, and Wang’s is no exception.
When they’re not decked out in Alexander Wang swag, the group members are most often spotted wearing a strangely cohesive set of outfits. They rock a haphazard mix of over-sized European raver and hip-hop gear decorated with abstract/graffiti patterns. Much like with their music, their fashion choices tap into subcultures that they don’t fully fit into. Yo-Landi’s razored, pseudo-mullet hard-girl haircut gives Rooney Mara’s Lisbeth Salander a run for her money, in terms of coifs. Ninja’s signature features are his gold teeth and low-quality tattoos. A strange contrast between Yo-Landi’s tiny size/childish voice and her ferocious lyrics creates something menacing and intriguing. Adding further to the strangeness, Ninja looks like some sort of a creep that you’d hate to run into at night by yourself.
Sometimes, you start to believe they live in a totally separate world where the strange things in their non-fashion videos actually happen. It’s hard to tell whether they even take themselves seriously.
This group is the odd shakeup the fashion industry needed. Sure, it’s a bit grotesque at times, but this shall pass. No one cares that T by Alexander Wang will have most likely have faded away in a few years, or that we won’t remember Die Antwoord beyond thinking they’re freaky. Right now is all that matters; for now, they’re keeping fashion weird and fresh.