Novelty South African rave-rap group Die Antwoord is positively ancient by Internet-sensation standards, having scored a viral hit with the mystifyingly stupid yet imminently quotable video for “Enter The Ninja” (“Look at me now, all up in the Interweb!”) way back in early 2010, a distant time when Americans didn’t even have a federal health-care plan. Somehow, Die Antwoord is still here several months later, and $O$ (a retooled version of the group’s debut, which was originally available as a free download) makes a surprisingly convincing case for its continued existence.
Drawing on Licensed To Ill, Giorgio Moroder, Gilbert and Sullivan, The Lonely Island, and Donkey Kong, as well as many other far less reputable sources, $O$ is ephemeral, artless, spiritually vacant, and frequently difficult to decipher if you don’t happen to speak Die Antwoord’s native Afrikaans. It’s also loaded with irresistible earworms that grow more coherent and less irritating the more you hear them. Cartoonish sidekick Yo-Landi Vi$$er takes command of the bouncy “Wat Pomp” with the sex appeal of Lil’ Kim with an anime makeover, but MC Ninja (a.k.a. rapper-comedian Watkin Tudor Jones) never leaves the spotlight for long, lazily releasing lines about “droppin’ paper” over the rudimentary 808-driven funk of “I Don’t Need You.” Then there’s the thoroughly fucked “pah-ty, pah-ty, pah-ty” ode “Doos Drunk,” where a lusty heavy-metal stomp booty-calls the world’s soppiest pint-hoisting drinking ballad and proceeds to make a sweaty racket for four violently chaotic minutes. $O$ probably won’t be around tomorrow, but for now, it’s a riot.