It is hard to maintain a lasting career as an artist when your principal quality is simply to ‘shock,’ yet somehow we have Die Antwoord. Ever since the South African rave-rap group burst onto the scene in 2009, they have managed to continually surprise us with just how subversive, depraved and, often, downright gross their aesthetic can be. The sky is truly the limit for the patron saints of Zef; who else could taunt Kanye West about his affinity for banana pudding and get away with it?
Last week, Die Antwoord let slip a serious bombshell: that all of their music videos thus far have been in service of a much bigger project; their own television series. Few other details are known about the upcoming South African Ninja, but rest assured it will be as exhilarating and nausea-inducing as the rest of their visual oeuvre.
So to celebrate news of Ninja, Yolandi and God (fka DJ Hi-Tek)’s impending takeover of the television world, we’ve decided to rank each one of their 15 official videos using the measurement system of ‘least to most disturbing.’ Peruse our list below and see if you can stomach your way to the end.
15. “Zef Side”
Less a music video and more a primer on the Die Antwoord world, this brief 2-minute clip infuses their song “Beat Boy” into what is essentially an excellently-timed bit of sketch comedy. The most unsettling part of this clip for the viewers at home would be the close-up of Ninja’s genitals swaying violently in his Pink Floyd boxer shorts, which for them, is essentially a G-rated family film.
14. “Rich Bitch”
Another surprisingly tame entry in their catalogue, “Rich Bitch” is 90% Yolandi rolling around shiny gold furnishings wearing shiny gold lewks. The other 10% is devoted to flashbacks of her days before she was a rich bitch, filmed in their now-characteristic eerie black and white crack house style, one that continues to appear in much of their work.
13. “Ugly Boy”
The Aphex Twin-sampling “Ugly Boy” is perhaps the most maximal visual Die Antwoord has ever produced. Which means that less of their budget went towards creating nightmares and more towards nabbing cameos from Cara Delevingne, Jack Black, Marilyn Manson and Dita Von Teese. But it’s not all celebrity fun time; there’s plenty of fake blood, freaky contacts and mean wearing clown suits to up the creep factor.
12. “Baby’s on Fire”
“Baby’s on Fire” is the first of several of their visual exploits that unsettle not with violence and creepy-crawlies but with sexual fantasies. Inexplicably cast as brother and sister, the video is a parade of men climbing into Yolandi’s childlike bedroom for a fun sexy time, only to be chased out by Ninja with either a gun or katana. It’s not disturbing per se, but it’s not exactly warm and fuzzy either.
11. “Wat Pomp”
Their first ever music video, “Wat Pomp” is an exercise in developing the aforementioned “eerie black and white crack house style” that has become such a hallmark of their aesthetic. But where their future endeavors would usually contain rats, bodily fluids and figures from a shadowy netherworld, this one is mostly just the group jumping up and down. Not a room you would want to hang for too long in though.
10. “Banana Brain”
There seem to be an infinite number of origin stories for the character of Yolandi in the Die Antwoord universe, but “Banana Brain” paints the most visceral picture. As a young party girl wanting to get lit, she poisons her parents’ tea (natch) then sneaks out to a house party where she gets laid and takes some dope acid. It looks fun, until at times it looks extremely not fun.
9. “Enter the Ninja”
“I represent South African culture” Ninja says as he alternately hops between a lush Keith Haring-like studio and the toilet of an abandoned building. Yolandi is in some other place, cooing about butterflies and samurai while dressed as a school girl. Ah, young love.
8. “Fat Faded Fuck Face”
You wouldn’t think imaginative body paint would be enough to make you feel afraid, but of course Die Antwoord manage it. In a parade of imagery that includes a Satanic goat-headed figure, contortionists and smoking blunts in the least-welcoming hot tub party ever, they turn body paint from ‘cute craft activity’ to ‘demonic accessory.’
7. “Evil Boy”
The message of “Evil Boy” is among the most inspired and intelligent in the band’s catalogue; a treatise on the rampant problem of adult circumcision based on traditional customs that is present in numerous African nations. But even such surprisingly incisive commentary is given the luxe nightmare treatment in their hands, thanks to spooky penis sculptures, alien appendages, a headpiece made of albino rats, Diplo DJ-ing and a furry penis monster that stalks around the edges of the frame.
6. “Cookie Thumper”
The peak of their ‘unsettling sexual fantasy’ subgenre of their videos, “Cookie Thumper” depicts a courtship as innocent as one would expect from a song that refers to intercourse as ‘cookie thumping.’ Perhaps it’s because Yolandi is portrayed as a child falling in love with a drug dealer, or perhaps it’s all those shots of her lover leering at us with a mouth full of no teeth, but we just feel… not good.
5. “Fok Julle Naaiers”
Four minutes of extremely intimidating shirtless men staring into your soul is fairly disturbing, but what really kicks this one so high up on the list is the final minute of a figure wearing a deformed dog/baby mask repeatedly saying “DJ Hi-Tek gonna fuck you in the ass.” Yeah, thanks for that image guys.
4. “Fatty Boom Boom”
“Fatty Boom Boom” is straight up genius; it takes balls for an artist to turn down the offer of touring with Lady Gaga, then subsequently make a mini-film exploring the idea of Lady Gaga finding prawns living inside her vagina, being accosted by muggers and getting eaten by a lion. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg in this visual-stunner, one that employs rapid-fire editing to create a collage of horrifying (and racially insensitive) looks for Ninja and Yolandi.
3. “Tommy Can’t Sleep”
Is this even a music video? Will any of us ever know? All that we do know is that “Tommy Can’t Sleep,” a ‘short film’ released earlier this summer, is pure terror. The image of Jack Black as a frightened rat child is second to none in the fear factor department, and an extra ick-factor comes in the form of Ninja and Yolandi’s real-life daughter playing the titular Tommy. Like parents, like chid.
2. “I Fink U Freeky”
As you have seen by this point, Die Antwoord make a lot of videos shot in black and white that take place in a grimy crack den. But it is “I Fink U Freeky,” already a contender for the best song of their career, that is the Citizen Kane of this aesthetic. It really has something from everybody, be it disfigured men leering at you, beds crawling with rats, cooking cockroaches, snakes emerging from crotches or lion carcasses. The number of disturbing tableaux they create here is almost painterly in its attention to detail. And it would be number one, were it not for…
1. “Pitbull Terrier”
SCARY DOG PEOPLE! SCARY DOG PEOPLE WITH SHARP TEETH RUNNING AFTER YOU AND RIPPING INTO YOUR NECK! SCARY DOG PEOPLE WEARING CHAINS WITH MOUTHS FILLED WITH BLOOD! PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!
For more listy goodness, take a look at our ranking of the best Lana Del Rey songs right here.