Die Antwoord – Mount Ninji and da Nice Time Kid
Zef Records (2016)
Die Antwoord’s fourth album, Mount Ninji and da Nice Time Kid, is surprisingly heavy on the generic rap frontman Ninja once pissed on. Most noticeably, Die Antwoord have lost the wild madness that made them such a sonic threat and revealed a weaker, more vulnerable side. They’re also flexing a much more cliched, rap-by-numbers muscle, where Ninja’s comfortable telling us all about his “big house on the hill” and Yolandi’s “chilling in the Lambo, sipping champagne.”
“We Have Candy” is a strange opener. “I love coffee but not a fuck will I drink Starbucks ‘cos Starbucks sucks,” raps Ninja. And you’re like, “Are you serious?” Everybody knows Starbucks sucks, dude. Then the chorus kicks in; “He likes his coffee black like his soul. He drinks it scorching hot like a fucking psycho.” And really, it all sounds a bit… lame.
Club-thumping 2 Unlimited freight train “Banana Brain” is the first good song. Finally the music’s interesting, the sound’s fresh, the hooks are razor-sharp and you assume normal service has been resumed. Think again…
Track four, “Shit Just Got Real,” is the rap equivalent of an Adam Sandler film. The song features Cypress Hill’s Sen Dog, and it’s basically a mish-mash of his band’s hits “(Rock) Superstar” and “How I Could Just Kill a Man.” The backing guitar sounds like something Kid Rock might rap over. One silver lining is Ninja’s verse – he sounds like his former self, Max Normal. That’s a surprise.
“Gucci Coochie” is another toothless club song. Ninja even brags about being in a jacuzzi with “these black girls in their underwear.” How wild. Then Die Antwoord take a darker, more theatrical, art-house detour, with two songs featuring mysterious, foul-mouthed six-year old ‘Lil Tommy Terror.
Apparently, the kid draws penises on everything. And hearing him swear and rap about wings on his dick on the first track is pretty damn weird. Let’s just say it’s not the kind of song you’d add to a public playlist – unless you wanted your house raided like Cliff Richard.
The second Tommy Terror snippet starts with Yolandi tempting the young rapper into “the rat hole,” listing all the cool twisted things inside; “…guns, aliens, freaks, homosexuals and rats…” Sure that one won’t get played at Pride 2017.
I could do without Jack Black but Ninja and Yolandi sound better on “Rats Rule.” Then Die Antwoord slip back into generic rap gear and floor it on “Stoopid Rich.” It’s the kind of “horrible fokken rap” Die Antwoord were always the antithesis of. Dull, lifeless and cliched. Satire, perhaps. The Andy Kaufman of rap? I wish.
More positively, “Peanutbutter + Jelly” is pretty interesting. It actually sounds like a Max Normal song, which is really weird – complete with comedy Max voice-overs. The music’s surprisingly subdued and understated, but it’s fresh, provocative and unusual. After that, Die Antwoord drop their pimp chalice swag completely.
Yolandi’s Cypress Hill-referencing windup doll sing-song “Alien” sounds more familiar. But then the bravado evaporates. Ninja’s singing on “Street Light” sounds unfamiliarly wounded and broken. “Darkling” is a sadder windup doll, music-box style Yolandi song. And suddenly, the album’s heading out on a whimper, until “I Don’t Care” kicks up a bit of a sad techno fuss on Die Antwoord’s way out.
According to the interwebs, the band dies in September 2017. If so, let’s hope they go out with a bit more of a bang(er) than this.