Culture

Die Antwoord, “Baby’s On Fire”

Die Antwoord, “Baby’s On Fire”

What is this? South African hip hop, and/or some kind of deranged club music — identified as “zef” by Die Antwoord.

Die Antwoord is the duo of Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er (take that, Ke$ha) who, despite their convincing portrayal in this video, are not brother and sister. They are so not brother and sister that they have made a baby together (named Sixteen Jones). “Zef” is a South African subculture that sounds a bit like the American idea of Ghetto Fabulous — sort of a lower-middle-class, white ghetto fabulous. Yo-Landi has described zef as “associated with people who soup their cars up and rock gold and shit. Zef is, you’re poor but you’re fancy. You’re poor but you’re sexy, you’ve got style.”

If you want more, well, you can just go to Wikipedia yourself, can’t you? This is some imported shit, a subculture in a land far, far away from here. It’s intensely identified with Die Antwoord, and we’re not exactly dealing with reliable narrators. In the video below, the group talks about what they do a bit — hard to say whether they’re representing zef honestly or satirizing it. Are they zef, or are they making fun of zef, or is it both? And we here in the northern hemisphere really aren’t qualified to make that call. Whatever it is, it’s entertaining.