DIE ANTWOORD at the Phoenix (410 Sherbourne), Sunday (October 24), doors 9 pm, all ages. $28.50. PDR, RT, SS, TW.
For everyone who's been asking if Die Antwoord are real or not - they're not. Obviously.
There's enough evidence online to shut down speculation about whether the South African "zef" rappers are sincere or playing white trash characters.
A number of sources say that the group's frontman, Ninja, is Watkin Tudor Jones, a sort of hip-hop Sasha Baron Cohen who's released music under a variety of personas, including the Constructus Corporation, Max Normal and MC Totally Rad.
With its aggressive Afrikaans and English rhymes and electronic, Southern rap production, Die Antwoord's debut, $O$ (Interscope), is a far cry from Jones's earlier music, much of which is abstract, experimental hip-hop that could have come out on Def Jux. (A couple songs even sound like Jack Johnson.)
But ask the group about their background or authenticity and the conversation hits bricks.
"I'm bored of talking about it," Ninja says from Johannesburg. "I think I explain it quite nicely in that thing. You can just quote that."
"That thing" is an eight-minute doc about Die Antwoord that writers have been told to watch before interviewing the group. In it he's equally oblique: "The only real things in life is the unexpected things. Everything else is just an illusion."
So no, they're not "real." But at a time when the biggest gangsta rapper is a former parole officer who claims that Manuel Noriega owes him a solid, who cares?
Way more interesting is Die Antwoord's presentation: a semiotic tapestry of Keith Haring-style drawings, rats, District 9 claws, striking haircuts and a vision of regional white trash culture that plays on the exotic "otherness" of South Africa.
And for a "fake" group, their integrity is impressively strong; frontwoman Yo-Landi Vi$$er turned down the lead role in David Fincher's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo adaptation to focus on the group's projects.
Despite sharing a record label with Eminem and Lady Gaga, they have no interest in collaborations.
"I work with Ninja, Ninja works with me," Vi$$er says.
But like their labelmates, the group does seem to enjoy pissing people off.
Last time they were in Toronto, Die Antwoord's sexual provocations sparked controversy after a fan was spotted at the show (which was incredible, btw) wearing a shirt with a lyric from their song $copie: "no means yes." Indirectly, the group was accused of trivializing rape.
"We wrote the song because we want women to get raped all over the world," Vi$$er deadpans, her sarcasm off the charts.
Ninja explains. "Have you seen Revenge Of The Nerds? Yo-Landi was watching it and one of the guys goes, ‘Remember, no means yes.' So it's not about rape, we got it from Revenge Of The Nerds. Or maybe Revenge Of The Nerds is about rape."
Despite seeming like a group that monitors everything written about them, Die Antwoord say they don't Google themselves.
"The interweb's got a weird vibe," Ninja says. "Sometimes it gives you a dull feeling in your balls, know what I mean?"