It all started with Enter The Ninja, the bizarre music video that went viral and suggested that "Zef" – a new genre of rap music – had been born. In the space of a few months earlier this year, South African double act Die Antwoord were catapulted from being an act that played to a few dozen people in Cape Town bars, to a major international act, signed to Polydor and embarking on a lengthy world tour.
Die Antwoord, which means 'the answer' in Afrikaans, are a brilliant, quintessentially South African, novel rap act – or a joke that isn't very funny. Or both.
One half of the act is Ninja, a surreal hybrid of Eminem and Eugene Hutz. At their recent London show, he spent most of the gig topless, exposing his skinny, tattooed torso, and sporting his trademark pair of Pink Floyd shorts. Meanwhile, the diminutive Yolandi Visser, a small blonde with a truly ludicrous haircut, jumps around the stage like a deranged Boer chipmunk, shouting Afrikaans obscenities into the mike and occasionally rapping herself.
But for many, the initial excitement at the discovery of this self-styled "Zef rave-rap group", with its hard-edged, white trash style and ruthless originality, soon turned to disappointment. The band, it seemed, was nothing more than some art school types playing the white trashand Ninja was indeed an Afrikaans Sacha Baron Cohen (real name Watkin Tudor Jones). But according to Yolandi, the people who think Die Antwoord are a joke "just don't get it". And, after talking to them after their gig, I too began to wonder if they might be for real.