The Untold Truth Of Die Antwoord

The South African hip-hop group Die Antwoord was recently dropped from the lineup of the upcoming ALT+LDN festival in the U.K. this summer. They were supposed to perform until several musicians heavily vocalized their objection. The duo's inclusion in the event came under fire from other artists, who asked for organizers to sever ties with them. 

In the past, Die Antwoord has received criticism for allegations of homophobic violence, racism, and even sexual assault, per Louder. And it's not their first ouster from a music event. As a result from previous allegations of the group being involved in a verbal and physical homophobic attack against a fellow artist, they were also removed from another festival in 2019. In fact there's been quite a few disturbing accusations made against them and their music for some time now, which undoubtedly makes them one of the most controversial music acts today. So what is their story, and who are they?

If you or a loved one has experienced a hate crime, contact the VictimConnect Hotline by phone at 1-855-4-VICTIM or by chat for more information or assistance in locating services to help. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

The origins of Die Antwoord

Hailing from South Africa, Die Antwoord is a rap-rave musical act that was formed in Cape Town in 2008, per Music in Africa. The name of the group translates to "The Answer," in the Dutch-based South African language of Afrikaans. Their music is described as heavily opinionated, suggestive, and highlighting "Zef" culture — a term used to represent working-class white South Africans. The act consists of the main duo: Anri du Toit, who is known as Yolandi Visser, and Watkin Tudor Jones, who goes by his stage name Ninja. Also, part of the group is DJ Hi-Tek. 

Die Antwoord made their international debut in 2009 with the release of their album "$O$." The first music video for their album single, "Enter the Ninja," was a popular and viral success, and it gained them a decent amount of global recognition. So much that not long after their introduction into the music world, the pair inked a deal with an American music label, Interscope Records. But it was a short-lived agreement, and they left to create their own label. Despite being an up-and-coming group at the time with a growing fan base, the duo quickly found themselves in hot water when a 2012 video sparked backlash and criticism for being racist.

Die Antwoord sparks racist controversy after racist controversy

The video for their song "Fatty Boom Boom" (posted on YouTube) from their sophomore album titled "Ten$ion," depicts Yolandi in blackface — a historically racist depiction that caricatures Black people with minstrel show stereotypes. The video was praised for effectively parodying Western culture, according to The Guardian, but the use of blackface reverted any other clever metaphors. That video, however, wouldn't be the last time Die Antwoord earned criticism for racism. 

In another video released in 2014, the group did blackface again. The visuals for the song "Ugly Boy," (also on YouTube) includes a man not only in blackface but sporting an Afro wig, too. The man is also wearing a hooded sweatshirt that reads, "Hello my name is God." The video had quite a few notable celebrity cameos (via Complex) but again, like the previous video, the blackface did not go ignored. So very early on the group had a reputation for being racist, notwithstanding the overall criticism for allegedly biting off colored, Black, and working-class white South African cultures — groups that neither member is apparently a part of, as explained in this OkayAfrica op-ed. But that would not be the end of more issues the troubling duo sparked. They routinely created controversy with their visual images and used a racial slur in a song, per HuffPost UK.

The sexual assault case against Ninja

Aside from their music and videos, Die Antwoord soon found themselves reportedly committing more offenses. In 2019, Australian artist Zheani Sparkes came forward about her relationship with group frontman Ninja after filing a police report against him, says the Sydney Morning Herald. The trio initially made contact when Yolandi first messaged her in 2013 — the same year Yolandi and Ninja called their romantic relationship quits and decided to remain together solely as music partners. The duo also have a teenage daughter together.

That year, Ninja allegedly began aggressively pursuing Sparkes, and when she flew to South Africa to meet him, she says she was drugged with a spiked drink. She said the rapper sexually violated and physically assaulted her to the point that she blacked out and lost consciousness. She released a song (posted on YouTube) about the assault, also accusing Ninja of having incestuous fantasies. Not long after Sparkes' story, another singer named Dionna Dal Monte, came out and accused Ninja of also assaulting her in Italy.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Die Antwoord's alleged homophobic attack

It would not just stop there. Sparkes also accused the pair of trafficking and grooming her in South Africa. Yolandi responded to the claims on Instagram a few months after and blasted Sparkes for being an attention seeker, reported All 4 Women.

Around that same time, a 2012 video of the duo engaged in a physical spat with music DJ Andy Butler spread online (via Mix Mag). Yolandi was heard using a homophobic slur and Ninja was seen assaulting him. The group had been set to appear in a few music festivals that year but was subsequently dropped from them when the video came out. A member of their entourage also involved in the assault later apologized to Butler for his role in the attack, and even blamed the duo for his actions, per Louder. Ninja would say the attack was warranted by Butler apparently groping Yolandi (via Grit Daily).

If you or a loved one has experienced a hate crime, contact the VictimConnect Hotline by phone at 1-855-4-VICTIM or by chat for more information or assistance in locating services to help. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

Die Antwoord's repeated offenses year after year

The constant controversies, and the most recent being a homophobic attack caught on tape, was just another major blow to a group that's already been embroiled in so many problematic issues just over a decade since their formation. Die Antwoord has seemingly and continuously left a bad taste in the mouths of many, and it shouldn't be any wonder why despite having a low profile for most of 2020, their past dealings have still followed them into this year. Last year the group released new music and was invited to perform at Lollapalooza Berlin, per Mxdwn.com

But of course them moving on from previous controversies doesn't erase them in the collective minds of others. That is exactly what happened a few days ago, when British artist Bobby of the punk rap duo Bobby Vylan, vehemently objected to Die Antwoord being listed in the lineup of the same festival they're set to perform in (via Louder). The ALT+LDN festival is just the most recent event to drop the rap duo, and by now, they're probably used to this.