South African hip hop trio Die Antwoord (Afrikaans for “The Answer”) first appeared on the scene in 2009 with their debut album $O$. They became a viral phenomenon after the release of the video for the album’s first single “Enter The Ninja”, teaming up with cinematographer Rob Malpage. With the first video the band introduced themselves, their music, and their Zef style to the masses… and got so many hits to the Die Antwoord website that the host couldn’t handle it and the site was shut down. The band became a sensational internet meme that boosted their sales and got them signed to Interscope records. It’s been about two years since they’ve released anything new and the world can’t help but wonder what they’ve been up to.
Ten$ion is the answer.
Recently the band has left Interscope records after refusing to succumb to a more generic sound and release anything “wack”. Die Antwoord’s sophomore effort is set for release February 7th on the band’s own Zef Imprint, which begs the question: what could they have been doing that even Lady Gaga‘s label (Interscope) couldn’t handle it? I have had the opportunity to preview the album, and am actually really happy that the band stayed true to their roots. Instead of transforming their sound into something more marketable to the American hip hop market, Ten$ion feels almost like a continuation of $O$ with only minor changes.
As the album starts it is immediately clear that the group has put enormous effort in maintaining the energy and momentum they found through $O$ while simultaneously maturing their sound. Each song moves flawlessly from track to track, skits included, and never falters in delivery. The band has elected to include nine actual songs on this record, which means that every song earned its placement in the track listing, and every one is as over the top as its predecessor. Songs like “I Fink U Freeky” and “U Make A Ninja Wanna Fuck” are prime candidates for singles and make this record shine like Ninja’s jewelry. Considering DJ Hi-Tek’s hard hitting beats, Yo-Landi Vi$$er’s creepy vocal melodies, and Ninja’s incredible flow, Ten$ion is unforgettable… and damn catchy.
Ten$ion is out 2/7 on ZEF Records.