We promised ourselves we won’t get drawn into this. This is the week in which Cape Town viral rappers Die Antwoord released the music video for their new single “Fok julle Naaiers.” The music video contains some Die Antwoord staples (spiders and scorpions come out of rapper Ninja’s mouth while he throws around the word Nigger, and tattooed coloured men are used to reference prison gang culture in Cape Town; the latter a big part of his persona). But there’s also these lines from their DJ, Hi-Tek: “You can’t touch me faggot …” and “I’ll fuck you till you love me faggot.” See for yourselves:
The group was roundly criticized for the homophobia and the (apparent) glorification of rape in the lyrics.It appeared their American label, Interscope, was also was uncomfortable with the video and song lyrics.
Die Antwoord then quickly announced that they were splitting with Interscope. They would now release their new album themselves.
But here is where it actually gets interesting (the rest is the same old boring vintage Die Antwoord, remixed). Ninja decided to film a video statement, where he presumably sets out to explain the use of homophobic/racist epithets in “Fok Julle Naaiers”:
His first defense: DJ Hi-Tek is gay. So it’s ok for the group to drop the ‘f’ bomb liberally. That argument, in itself, is a stupid defense: i.e. membership of an objectified minority group means you can be racist/sexist/homophobic.
Ninja then accused “some people from America” of being “heavy sensitive,” thusly implying that South Africans are okay with calling each other faggot as a term of endearment. Hardly true–especially not in a country where lesbians are subjected to “corrective rape,” gay men to hate crimes and Evangelical Christianity (with its clearly expressed homophobia) has a strong hold on the population.
Third, Ninja concludes his use of racist epithets with the claim that black South Africans are okay with white South Africans calling them Nigger. And vice versa. More news to me.
Finally–in a strange turn–Waddy said South Africa is a “rainbow nation” and that “we have the pay off line ‘Simunye’ we are one.” What he forgot to tell his audience is that both the descriptors–the first (rainbow nation) was dreamed up by politicians, and the second (Simunye) by advertising copy writers to promote a TV channel–are outdated (they last had currency in the mid-1990s) and widely discredited (think the politics of the movie Invictus) by anyone who lives in the ‘real’ – that is, the vast majority who continue to experience nothing but the failure of that rainbow promise.
Waddy Jones’ defenders will probably says he was in “character,” the whole thing satire (original video and ‘apology’ alike), and that he is being ironic and deliberate.
Perhaps the fact that I am writing about their charade now will also be read as evidence that they’re good.