It’s been four years since South African rap-rave group Die Antwoord’s bizarre video for “Enter The Ninja” took everyone by surprise and became a viral internet phenomenon—racking up millions of views and making overnight pop superstars out of Ninja, Yo-Landi Vi$$er and DJ Hi-Tek. Now, days away from a global rollout of their third full-length LP, Donker Mag (out on June 3), the controversial artists have proven early predictions of flash-in-the-pan success wrong.
Following “Enter The Ninja,” Die Antwoord rolled out a series of consistently strong videos that built on their exaggerated version of South African zef culture and amassed a dedicated worldwide fan base that continues today. Of course, along with all the attention came questions of authenticity.
Asked by a reporter if he's playing a fictional character, Ninja (the mastermind behind it all) explains, "Ninja is, how can I say, like Superman is to Clark Kent. The only difference is I don't take off this fuckin’ Superman suit." Born Watkin Tudor Jones, he was involved in several music projects as various personas before eventually embracing the Ninja role. Covering himself in zef-inspired tattoos and committing to the role on stage and in every public appearance he’s ever made, it seems Ninja may have overtaken Jones.
Like an emotionally unstable method actor who loses himself in a role, it’s possible Jones wasn’t lying when he said he never takes off his Ninja suit. The alter ego may have become his default personality—even away from the cameras. Or, more likely, it’s an impressive example of a ridiculous level of dedication to performance art. Either way, it’s wildly entertaining.
If you weren't quick enough to get tickets to the sold-out Portland show at the Roseland Theater on Sunday, May 25, you can still catch the circus for yourself as Die Antwoord will also hit Eugene's Cuthbert Amphitheater on Saturday, May 24 with MiM0SA and Seattle's Raz Simone in support of their upcoming Donker Mag album (the first video from which you can check out below), all of this after making a late-night appearance at Sasquatch on Friday, May 23 on the Bigfoot stage at the Gorge Amphitheatre.