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If you choose to believe Interscope, Lady Gaga, conservative South African academics and media, Die Antwoord (Afrikaans for "The Answer") are allegedly a homophobic, racist, plagiarising and hit-less 'elaborate act'.

The Cape Town duo's aggressive and chaotic hybrid of Afrikaans, Xhosa and English slang and expletive-filled lyrics, early '90s rave, rap beats and provocative imagery has led to outrage aplenty in the last six years, as well as questions around the group's authenticity and representation of modern day South Africa, most notably as pioneers of the country's 'zef' culture.

Originally a derogatory term for the SA underclass, 'zef' is reportedly now used as a descriptor for an Afrikaans lifestyle infiltrated and bastardized by 20th and 21st century global influences, particularly mainstream rap's misogynistic, 'get rich or die trying' and 'blunts, 40s and bitches' vibes.


"The PC-version people try and promote this image of South Africa as a rainbow nation and make it all like pretty and stuff," rapper Ninja explained in a 2010 interview. "But it's actually like this fokked-up, kind of broken fruit salad. Cause all those things don't mix that well together in the real world. But for us it does mix."

Die Antwoord have created their fair share of headlines since forming in 2008; conflict with a major label over the release of second album 'Ten$Ion', a Twitter feud with a certain female pop megastar after the duo killed off a lookalike in video 'Fatty Boom Boom', accusations of copyright and the use of blackface in their film content are some of the controversies surrounding the group's Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er.

Comparisons with Insane Clown Posse and other satirical or novelty rap acts come easy for critics, whilst other cultural commentators have heralded the rags to riches story of the duo and their depiction of white trash ghetto rap in South Africa as a watershed moment in the nation's music history. Either way, fans looking to find out what Die Antwoord are really about may not find the answer on third studio album Donker Mag, but they'll have a fokken interesting time trying.

Ninja explains on interlude 'Zars', "Check...cool thing about South Africa is that, y'got eleven national languages to choose from," and the rapper's schizophrenic flitting between languages, voices and personalities is engaging to a point, even a little disarming. Other skits like the opening message to Tony (Die Antwoord, Marilyn Manson and bizarrely, First Aid Kit manager Tony Ciulla) on opener 'Don't Fuk Me', the 1 minute and 12 seconds of Yo-Landi laughing on 'Pompie', and the kids TV show theme closing bars of 'Girl I Want 2 Eat U' all point to the artists' use of humour and comedy in their act - objectionable and crass, or a social marker depending on who you're asking.

The deadly cuteness of a child's voice on closing track 'Moon Love' slices through the posturing on tracks like the hi-octane four-to-the-floor trance banger 'Happy Go Sucky Fucky' ("Fuck your rules / who are you to tell me / what I can and can't do fuck you bitch / you just want to be me") and the acid house number 'Pitbull Terrier' ("Black cats / white cats / all my Zef cats / look out / big dog in the place to be").

Ninja does clichéd rap lyrics beautifully, although some eloquence may well be lost in translation. References to Pinky and the Brain, Instagram and ODB, along with the use of phrases like "La Di Da Di", "resting bitch face", "techno heartbeat" and ridiculously, 'boobs in my inbox!" on the sing-song nursery rhyme hip-hop song 'Raging Zef Boner' reminiscent of Eminem's Slim Shady period, only serve to reaffirm the feeling that we're lost in the middle of a crazily successful pastiche of pop culture here.

Spanning commercial R&B ('Ugly Boy'), sleazy electro-thump ('Cookie Thumper'), soft-rock balladry ('Strunk') and DJ Muggs-led bass heavy aggro-rap ('Rat Trap 666'), Donker Mag is unashamedly synthetic in its make-up - a carefully constructed affectation of hooks, melodies and outlandish braggadocio.

A record made by serious spokespersons for a stylised movement, or clever cultural chameleons? Who knows. It's an entertaining listen.

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