Die Antwoord $O$ album cover revealed

Die Antwoord - $O$

Many Boing Boing readers are familiar with the South African rap rave revolution known as Die Antwoord. A series of posts here earlier this year helped catapult them from relative obscurity to center stage, bright blinding lights and all. Xeni blogged about them after her friend, photographer Clayton Cubitt, was hipped to them by a pal of his who assisted on a Capetown video shoot which resulted in this.

A month later, on their first trip to the US, Xeni and I had breakfast with Ninja— we talked about their crazy-fast rise to internet stardom, and he tipped us off that they were in the process of signing to Interscope. A few months after that, while I was at a friends birthday BBQ in Brooklyn, Ninja phoned me with a proposition. Xeni had told him about my previous life as a designer in the music industry, and they wanted someone who "got it" to help them design their upcoming album, $O$.

SOS-final.pngI accepted in a second, and we started brainstorming right then, on the phone. With some amazing photos Clayton shot as the base, we quickly arrived at a very clear vision of what the album would look like, including some costuming elements by another artist and friend, Gary Baseman, whom I'd introduced to the band after randomly bumping into him at Coachella and learning he was a fan as well. (full photoshoot credits here)

I spent the next month working on this while in Paris, and have been dying to show off the design ever since. Today, the band debuted it on their website with a countdown to October 12, 2010 as the US release date. Since the cat is out of the bag, I thought folks here would like to see it right away.

In addition to this just being a really cool story of fans and artists coming together, it's been super fun to work with such a collection of creative and inspiring people. Looking back on the photos from that first morning when I met them, it almost seems like destiny.

Global release dates coming soon, as well as a whole new host of tour dates. In the meantime I can tell you, I've heard the album—and it's amazing.

Ninja and Xeni


  1. Already have tix to the upcoming show at the Congress in Chicago. Saw their show at Double Door in July, and they f*cking blew the roof off the place!

    1. Saw their show at Double Door in July, and they f*cking blew the roof off the place!

      Yes, I’m sure they did, but were they any good?

  2. @danwarning The “milking machine”was actually one of the first flyers I quickly made for them and was at no point intended as an album cover.

    People are going to be blown away by this album. A great deal of hard work went into it.


    1. I love this and them, but as an artist myself, one tiny tiny critique is that her foxes should have also been blue (dyed blue, the fur, heads and all)in order to tie her into the entire frame. the earth tones in her foxes and jewelry don’t blend with the overall blue tone in the rest of it. It’s my only critique. One other option would have been to also put a blue hood over her head while leaving the rest as-is.

  3. Why is it (almost) always women posed naked/in degrees of nudity? /RANT!

    I understand that women have fluid erotic tastes, but this is getting boring and feeling eploitative.


    (not necessarily from Die Antwoord, the cover just set me off.)

    Thank you, /rantoff.

      1. Thanks for being so quick on that link. I think Ninja brought something to the discussion that’s been needed for some time.

      2. is anyone else wishing they had this image of ninja’s “dick slanging” pink floyd shorts on a trading card size lenticular motion card?

    1. “Why is it (almost) always women posed naked… LET’S HAVE SOME GUY CANDY!”

      Maybe because women tend to be pretty, and men tend to be ugly?

        1. Ma’am, please calm down. Your Bieber porn will be arriving shortly.

          In the meantime, please accept these hor’dourves:

  4. I thought after the Annie Leibovitz shot of the Yoko and John we all collectively decided that no, we didn’t need to see dudes naked. Yuk.

    1. Contrary to your belief, ‘we’ are not all straight guys.

      Furry, skinny naked John Lennon? Not my thing. Maybe someone else’s.

      Nekkid Viggo Mortensen, however? d^___^b!

  5. Edvard Munch cat-ninja chibi-tweety Boer vampire and backwoods nudist Galadriel!!!

    Why not, I say? I shall download EP and play same at high volume in residential areas and irritate most, while intriguing some. heh.

  6. First, terrific stuff. Seems to have real power prima facie. Love what Ninja is wearing, endlessly fascinating and just spooky enough to seem mystical.

    Second, yeah, I too find myself questioning the choice of Yo-Landi’s look. Was this her choice? Is this her desired presentation of herself? Or is she being objectified? It’s not overtly sexist (it certainly is a spooky, mystical vibe for her), but I do find myself wondering if her nudity is intended as a way to sell records, or if it is purely art for art’s sake (which Die Antwoord bring to the table, bless them).

    I kinda feel bad about bringing this up. I don’t want to bag on Sean or Yo-Landi or the group. But I have a daughter and I keep hoping that the world will change and she won’t have to deal with sexual objectification.

    Big fan of Sean and sixspace – much respect for his artistic integrity. I’m just too old to allow politeness to overcome a chance to have an honest discussion about feminism and culture. So I’m open to being schooled here, no lie.

    1. I didn’t take the photo, Clayton did. But I can assure you that Clayton, Ninja and YoLandi were the ones deciding everything about the shoot – and this wasn’t taken as an album cover so no decisions were based on “selling records” – it was taken to create an amazing photo, which was later decided would also make a great cover.

    2. Women take their clothes off and it’s sexist. Women wear the niqab and it’s sexist. Apparently, there is a precise range of clothing coverage that is non-sexist.

      Or women could just wear whatever they want.

      1. I’m not saying it’s sexist, I’m saying it could be sexist, depending on the point of view of the woman being photographed.

        Over the length of human history, women have been objectified by men. My question, upon viewing the photograph, becomes: Is this an example of objectification?

        Here’s the opening of the Wikipedia description of sexual objectification of women: “Feminist scholars say that the objectification of women involves the act of disregarding the personal and intellectual abilities and capabilities of a female; and reducing a woman’s worth or role in society to that of an instrument for the sexual pleasure that she can produce in the mind of another. Although opinions differ as to which situations are objectionable, some feminists see objectification of women taking place in the sexually oriented depictions of women in advertising and media, women being portrayed as weak or submissive through pornography, images in more mainstream media such as advertising and art…”

        Had Yo-Landi desired to be portrayed in this way, if it were her idea or whether the idea appealed to her, then I do not consider it sexual objectification. But the question does remain: What was she thinking when the photo session happened – what is she thinking, now that it’s done? . The concept of women being treated as sexual objects is real, even today.

        I’m not saying what’s what, ’cause I don’t know what is in Yo-landi’s mind. Which is why I asked the question. (And not for nothing, I felt the courage to ask because a previous commenter broached the subject) – It’s absolutely possible that Yo-landi masterminded the portrait, or that she wanted to be unclothed in the shot, that she wanted to portray her sexuality. But if she didn’t, if it was someone else’s idea, if she was not aware of the possibility of sexual objectification, then it seems worth it to raise this discussion.

        Antinous summarizes the issue succinctly: “Women could just wear whatever they want.” Indeed, if Yo-landi said, “Hey, I want to be photographed this way, I want to be represented in this fashion,” than it’s not objectification. It’s not sexist. But if it didn’t occur to her, if she was simply asked to do it and she said ok without a thought to the ramifications, then it’s a different story.

        My point is that BoingBoing is a place of intellectualism, a gathering of smart folks who want to use their brains. It seemed the right kind of place to initiate a discussion of feminist theory. If I’m mistaken in this instance, if I made a poor choice, if I hurt anyone’s feelings by bringing it up in this particular post, I genuinely express regret and remorse.

        1. It’s not sexist to do sexy things.

          It’s boring and trite and possibly sexist to go, “I know, let’s have the girl (!) pose nude…and have the guy completely covered up!”…YET AGAIN.

  7. I used to think I watched the X-Files for those many years because of a sexual attraction to Agent Scully. Now, looking at Yo-Landi, I’m beginning to think I was actually turned on by the little grey aliens.

  8. She looks stunning. Yikes.

    He just looks silly. The shaped fingernails are a nice touch, but…a hood with cat ears? And a patch on his chest with what looks like a hand-drawn cartoon character on it? And a sash that looks like it came from someone’s window shades? His home-made costume almost cancels out the vibe she creates.

    Why not have him stand behind the chair with no top or pants on (you know, with his midsection on down hidden, so you can’t see his skivvies) so that it looks like they’re both almost nekkid?

    (Yeah, yeah, everyone’s a critic.)

    1. yep. He looks like the Fearless Ferret from Kim Possible. Haven’t heard their music, but since they trigger the Adam West Batman theme, I’m too afraid to look for it.

  9. I love the cover! Ninja’s custom works perfectly with the Die Antwoord vibe IMHO, and as several other mentioned, Yo-landi looks amazing.

    So… how much different is this $O$ album from the one that was leaked like half a year ago?

  10. The cover is perfect. It’s evocative, it suggests some sort of menacing occult affiliations and the detailing and color choices are just beautiful.

    Well done!

    Sadly I like everything about this band except their music (which I find kinda trite and obvious (but it’s executed well, no doubt) Hip Hop/ Techno? Really? Zzzzzz. They should hire John Zorn and get busy.

    But I’m much, much more interested in their visual output, which has always been great fun (in the same way Eraserhead is great fun yes?).

    And I hope Yo-landi keeps exploiting herself.

    Eyes. Glued. To. That. Hair. Those. Beavers.

    Sigh. Objects of desire rule!

  11. Hm…
    If they are Die Antwoord (answer), what is Die Vraag (question)?

    Personally, I doubt I would ever ask such a question.

  12. I checked ’em out on YT. They are totally hilarious. If these two are not intentionally skewering rap as a genre then they’re just silly, but if it is as satirical as it seems then they’re brilliant!

  13. My problem with Yo-Landi’s apperance here isn’t the fact she’s nude, it’s that she looks badly Photoshop’d. A shame because it’s a great cover otherwise.

  14. whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaattt so sick!!! well done. this is a band i heard of while in south africa a couple years ago… or maybe i first heard of ninjas other project before this… either way, before i could even blink an eye stateside, yall were on it, ofcourse. So happy to be a mutant, most of the times, especially, when news like this pops up that ties my life together- music, hacker, design, media, etc. blah blah blah u get it. stoked.

    Anyhow, Sean, killer. great work. grand. glory. Xeni, great interview, i often send it to Die Antwoord Virgins- along with enter the enter ninja video or zef side.


  15. Whether Yolandi is wearing clothes or not is perhaps one of the least interesting things about this picture. As she is a member of the zefest band on earth, we can relax and assume she can control a complex social message. But is it a complex social message. hmmm… not sure… convince me please… No doubt its visually pleasing in a Rasputin meets Totoro meets Wild Things meets Vulturi meets Tilda the Witch and throw in some binaries for good measure sort of way. Not convinced its not just an intriguing skate across some above the equator mainstream sub-icons. But lovely it is.. she is.. and she is… and I’ll be lined up with the rest to buy the album hoping to find the zef bombs in the music. Maybe the biggest thing to get over here is the loss of that posed unposedness that crackles soos ‘n wit pyp in die ander die antwoord visuals. i love that playful idful space. local is still lekker, you okes :) why are we playing with their toys.

  16. For the people concerned whether Yo-Landi felt obligated to pose as such for the cover or whether she just couldn’t care less. Watch this or fast-forward to 2:10 and make up your own mind.

  17. Everything even tangentially related to Die Antwoord is a delight and I like this cover, but I was sort of hoping they’d stick with the Roger Ballen style B&W photos they were using for the site and EP (LOVE the cover for that one).

  18. Some of us were hoping for an appearance by the menstrual blood crystal Ninja & Yo-Landi sing about in the original pre-Ninja version of Beat Boy.

  19. The tracklisting is up on Pitchfork and the new version of the album only seems to have 10 tracks on it, and only 7 from the original album. It doesn’t even have Wat Pomp! And I hope the post above isn’t implying Beat Boy has had its incredible lyrics censored? Can’t help worrying that they’re messing with stuff that was perfect as it was.

  20. I really, really love the weirdness that is Die Antwoord. It’s refreshing to see so many people jumping on board something this strange.

    I was doing client work at Coachella this year, so I didn’t really get to see too many bands. My brother texted me and said no matter what, I had to go see this South African rap group, Di Antwoord. I managed to rope a co-worker into covering me for a while, and went to check them out, and I am so glad I did. That was my first exposure to them, and I was immediately hooked on the whole package.

    As far as the whole objectification angle, I think some people aren’t quite in on the joke. Choosing to be photographed sans clothing isn’t the same as raw objectification methinks.

  21. Wow… all these comments, and not one complaint that she’s wearing fur? I guess concern over the use of our furry bretheren to decorate our bodies is last decade’s moral outrage. What are those dead things, anyway?

  22. This looks great. One looks like a naked amoebazoid and the other some sort of pagan priest with long nails. I can just imagine what their “music” could possibly sound like.

      1. Sean, John Lennon took the world by storm. Mr. Lennon changed the way we view music. John Lennon stood in solidarities for justice and against war. Mr. Lennon was a snog when it comes to what the “World’s view” considered him of. This, in essence, curtails your “opinion” of Mr. John Lennon and his famous “nude” pose. It’s just a human body– deal with it.

        1. I made no comment about Mr. Lennon’s (or John as I like to call him) impact on the world or the quality of his tunage. I simply stated my opinion, which I believe to be shared by 100% of rational society, that no one wants to see him naked.

          1. Love the artwork btw…and the photo rocks!

            But I know from mine and my friends diverse tastes and sexualities that really, although Mr Lennon wasn’t my bag, there probably was some people out there who did want to see him naked. Kind of like rule 23. And it was a bold statement for the times…less about his actual body, I’m guessing, more about the body politic(k).

            Sexuality != ‘rationality’, desire and attraction just *are*. And proclaiming men as ugly, or one man is and that everyone will agree if ‘rational’ total b.s. because even if YOU think so someone else would…Unless you think the likes of Michelangelo’s David is ugly and should be covered up?

            Or buy into the incredibly sad idea that beauty only comes in pre-ordained pre-sanitised packages from Dolce & Gabana or Abercrombie & Fitch…there are all sorts for all types, my friend…

            Sorry to give you a GenderFuck101 lesson, but really? In the words of Robyn & Snoop, U Should Know Better…

  23. I think the blue wallpaper design is fucking dope!

    Yo-landi looks like a sexy ice-mullet-goddess and Ninja– well, sorry, he just looks kinda silly to me, regardless of Gary Baseman sneaking in his personal insignia.

    I respect Gary Baseman’s art, however, I’ve just never been that fond of it. Sorry! Regarding the Downtown LA Pop Surrealist/Low-Brow art scene: IMHO, Liz McGrath and/or Camille Rose Garcia are far superior visual artists than Gary Baseman! Liz McGrath, especially, would have come up with some amazing pop surrealist costuming and props for the photo-shoot that are right up Die Antwoord’s alley.

    Oh well! I’m sure Gary Baseman is totally stoked to have scored this very choice gig, regardless of whether or not there are far more superior female artists from the Downtown LA pop surrealist art scene whose visions are totally compatible with the Die Antwoord trippy, surreal, and dark aesthetic. My two cents!


  24. I’d like to imagine what comment threads would be like for the “reveal” of album covers like Bowie’s Diamond Dogs or Rush’s Moving Pictures.

    Nah, scratch that. I’d like to enjoy life.

  25. So…this is ultra white folk making fun of ultra white folk(Vanilla Ice comes to mind) trying to make hip hop, rap, etc.? Anything for a buck.

  26. “They’re not going to release the album, because they’ve decided that the cover is sexist.”

    “What’s wrong with being sexy?”

    1. @robulus: FTW! Your Spinal Tap reference is fully meta, man.

      “They’re not going to release the album, because they’ve decided that the cover is sexist.”

      “What’s wrong with being sexy?”

  27. People, People (Sean Bonner), it’s not about Mr. Lennon being naked and if you like it (or not?) but about the message, eh?

    Mr. Lennon changed the way we view music. John Lennon stood in solidarities for justice and against war. Mr. Lennon was a snog when it comes to what the “World’s view” considered him of. This, in essence, curtails your “opinion” of Mr. John Lennon and his famous “nude” pose.

    John Lennon couldn’t give a rat’s arse whether or not you liked what you saw. As timbearcub said, if somebuddy did NOT like it someone else WOULD like it (Mr. Lennon naked). And, anywho, unless yer name is Mrs. Ono it should not really matter– YOU don’t have to sleep next to it.

  28. is this $O$ any different than the $O$ they used to let you download for free right from their website or will this have new material?

  29. The picture makes me think that I’m about to be sacrificed to Nyarlahotep by DIY cultists in a Victorian mansion. I was going to be Bob Ross’s zombie for Halloween, but I might make Ninja’s outfit, instead.

    And I like their music because it kind of freaks me out. I hadn’t felt like that since the first time I heard Komm Iki Maska by Nina Hagen.

  30. here’s one for the ladies who feel like ninja won’t represent himself as an object…


    and as for those who are saying that die antwoord is “anything for a buck,” you clearly have no perception of the level of conceptual art behind this simultaneously seriously street project. it is waaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy deeper. as ninja so eloquently states in one of their early interviews, “if you love us we, we love you too. if you hate us, it’s because you’re not on our level.”

  31. Yolandi looks so at ease with her sexuality that one can’t really categorise the portrait as pornographic or sexist. What is so amazing is that while she is clearly showing The Establishment the middle finger by this pose, it comes across as absolute unconcern. The level of subversiveness in Die Antwoord’s every action is a delight to experience. Great marketing nous as well.

  32. Do you think this image promotes the asthetic of fur wearing royalty or plays with it? I’ve seen them wearing white minks and lying on bear rugs. There seems to be a theme of using dead or alive animals as fashion accesories. Can the Director comment on the use of fur in this shoot? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_8Ko-9uKRs

  33. Sorry to necro this thread for a question that someone might be able to answer: Is DJ Hi-Tek gonna release the instrumentals that they had streaming on the site before? I used to visit that URL like I was putting a needle on a record…

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