Die Antwoord: Fatty Boom Boom

Warning: Contains explicit/gross content, not for kids.

A new music video from South African rap-rave zef stars Die Antwoord (web, Amazon). "Fatty Boom Boom," from the most recent album, TEN$ION.

Watch for the not-Lady-Gaga cameo. Much about this will be controversial.

Music video + story concept by Ninja and Yo-landi Vi$$er. Directed by Ninja, Terence Neale and Saki Fokken Berg. DP: Alexis Zabe. Full cast/credits here, including details on the background artwork.


  1. This is by far my favourite track off the album.

    Also, I really liked all of Die Antwoord’s videos in the past. I’m not quite sure what to say about this one other than it makes me uncomfortable. So they probably succeeded.

  2. Leftist troll material?

    Afrikaans singers in blackface ripping off aborigine style and african styles while assuming a aesthetic of illiterate/impoverished suburbanite/urbanites? Yolandi’s costumes make a few references I might not be getting (is the blackface costume in a yellow dress a reference to something or is about “idealized” women??). I probably missed a few things there.

    Their max normal work gives them some art cred so maybe I can write this off in the art sense (an attempt to shock you). But when Afrikaans go black face there’s some seriously heavy context.  Maybe they are satirizing people who don’t find a lot of these references offensive. Who knows.

    What I worry a little more about is “zef” stars (or any analogous) who are serious about the superficial message.

    1. Trying to analyze what Die Antwoord is doing is an exercise in futility. They pack so much into each scene, and every little piece of their music videos is so insanely crafted, that to try and distill a single message from any of their works is insane.

      They roll right over any comfort, or sense of decorum, you might hold dear. And it gets a lot of people uncomfortable.


      They force you to look at what makes you so uncomfortable about it, and maybe see some of your prejudices a little more closely. Dunno about you, but I grew up in a poor neighborhood for part of my life, and there is very little difference between their experience in South Africa and mine in the Southern US. I *get* what they’re referring to. And since so few people are making serious art with a poor-as-shit aesthetic shot right through it, they get a lot of attention.

      Heard the exact same accusations about Eminem when he first started performing.

    2. I remember reading when they first cropped up (if I’m remembering correctly) that Die Antwoord effectively started out as a parody of white Afrikaans kids who coopt poor black culture for a South African TV station. Its one of several projects these guys have done over the years, including multiple musical acts.

      Given that, and the fact that the video is framed by an American pop star literally taking a safari through the ghetto, I’m reasonable sure this is meant to parody western expectations about South Africa. The black face and exaggerated grass skirts/body painting are likely intended to make an American audience in specific squirm, but also represent pretty fraught images in South Africa. 

      Other than that your blackface/yellow dress question is actually an interesting one. The visual motif (jet black skin, bright red lips,  bright yellow or sometimes white/red patterned dress) is typical of whats often called “colonial” African folk art. Basically folk art based in traditional African styles and methods but influenced by the cultures, expectations and art of whatever colonial power was in control. Much of it was intended for sale in the tourist trade or to those white colonial cultures, although there was some influence on “real” folk beliefs and artifacts. So that black face/yellow dress image is essentially the South African version of North America’s Mammy/Lawn Jockey. 

      1. I need to go back and try to pause it, but when she’s in black face and wearing the yellow dress I swear that her pupils were dollar signs. The scene cut to quickly that I couldn’t be sure. BIG +1 if they were.

  3. It took me awhile – but a few months ago I came around and embraced Die Antwoord. The whole album is actually pretty good.

    Speaking of bands featured on BB, what ever happened to the Bloody Beetroots?

  4. meaning no disrespect, will somebody please explain to me why boingboing, a dare i say- “progressive” leaning blog, still loves die antwoord, who seem to stir up racist, sexist, and homophobic dust whenever they are in the news?

    1. 1) “Boing Boing” doesn’t “love” them, and the group didn’t blog this, I did. There are no collective editorial processes behind our posts. We individually post things we find interesting. It’s not my art, my creation, or my property. It’s theirs, and I’m pointing to it.

      2) It’s controversial and disturbing art, but I feel pretty comfortable, having interacted with them for some time, saying they’re not racists or homophobes. That said, criticism and discussion are welcome here.

      1. That said, criticism and discussion are welcome here.

        Might I perhaps in my limited capacity as a largely anonymous commenter very humbly propose an open poll to determine whether a significant portion of the readership would prefer never to hear of Die Antwoord again?

          1. The other wonderful thing is we can all skip the posts we don’t like, and not even open them up and post negative comments.  Everybody wins!

          2.  Coward?  Really? 
            That seems rather harsh for such a, while misguided, mild-mannered, polite request. 
            I must be missing something. 

          3. Well it’s not polite to request democratic votes on a blog that has build its reputation on the contributions of its editors.
            It’s missing the point and purpose of the blog entirely —> thus pretty rude.

        1. That is silly. I enjoy Die Antwoord posts, their rap sucks (apart from the “I fink you freeky” track) but their visual art is amazingly disturbing. But there is other stuff posted on boingboing I couldn’t care less about. If we all get our “the stuff we never want to see again” removed from boingboing, this will be as empty as google+.

      2. understood.  i guess i have a problem with art that pushes what i would call boundaries of good taste–meaning probably my own sense of social justice–even in some kind of “it’s not bigoted because they don’t mean it” way.  i’m thinking specifically of the excuse i got from youth i work with about die antwoord’s lyrics not being homophobic because they are connected with someone who is gay, which i could never swallow.  i do appreciate controversy for controversy’s sake, but even perceived hate speech is beyond my comfort level.  then, “if it sounds good, it is good.”

    2. They’re South African – their social norms are different than here.

      And how are they homophobic? IIRC DJ High Tek (High Tech?) is gay.

        1. If that’s what the song is about then I missed it completely, but then I couldn’t understand a lot of the lyrics. If you wouldn’t mind, could you please explain?

        2. Yes their imaginary “DJ” who is played by a different person and/or wearing a mask in every video or appearance is gay so it’s OK.

          1. You are correct.

            The person who works with them as DJ Hi-Tek on most (all?) of their recordings so far, and on that particular song and the video for that particular song, and who tours with them some but not all of the time and works with them still, is gay.

            Seriously, don’t bother trying to out-trivia me on this band, who credits Boing Boing in part with their fame.

          2. Perhaps they are all required to become gay as a condition of employment.  Did you think about that?  Did you?

      1. again, this might say more about my personal sensitivity and my conditioning as a social worker than it does about the band’s values, but when i here disparaging words used it seldom matters to me what the intent of the word’s usage was, i automatically think about what the effect of the word might have on a listener.  and the argument that you can’t be homophobic if you have a gay friend/colleague doesn’t really stand up for me, just as the same if you replaced “homophobic” with “racist.”  but  i’m satisfied by xeni’s answer.

        1. FYI: We typically don’t even allow the f-word to be used in comments here, any more than we do the n-word. But that doesn’t mean that we won’t blog about controversial or disturbing art or historical artifacts that use those words. The word ban is for us about encouraging civility in a medium (comments) that easily turns yucky.

          And again, it’s entirely possible that some of my colleagues here will hate this video! I haven’t asked. We have different opinions about the things we individually post. It’s not a collective in that sense, we don’t review and vote before one of us posts something.

          1. To be clear, the f-word not allowed is the one used to refer to gay men and not the fun f-word, correct? Because fucking fuckity motherfucking fuckballs, the word fuck and its derivations are great words.

        2. Not trying to tell you your feelings are wrong, just wanted to join in on this specific conversation. I can definitely see why these things word turn you off, but maybe this will put at least some other peoples’ interest in a different light. To me whether or not they are actually homophobic and racist is irrelevant. I still find their sound interesting, and intriguing. Another artist I like is the infamous Burzum. Convicted murderer, arsonist known for his extremely racist and neo-nazi beliefs. I share none of those beliefs but I still think he makes interesting and great black metal. I also listen to a few Three 6 Mafia tunes once in a while, they are certainly homophobic and misogynistic. Rarely do I need to like the message in someones art to enjoy their art, because the intent of their message isn’t necessarily what I’m getting from it. YAY for the ambiguity of artistic intent. This song makes my booty shake.

          1. To me whether or not they are actually homophobic and racist is irrelevant.

            I would imagine that people that aren’t the direct targets of that kind of hate would have a much easier time divorcing hate speech and views from the otherwise pleasing and catchy tunes.

          2. That’s  a very good point. On one hand I am a target of the homophobia,but I wouldn’t call it direct because I was VERY lucky and grew up in a situation with little to no hatred towards marginalized groups. I just never really felt offended by some peoples’ poor choice in words because it was rarely leveled at me until I was an adult. And when it was I was surrounded by an amazing family, and great friends. So I honestly don’t know what its like to feel truly hated because of who I am, even though a lot of society most certainly does. It just honestly doesn’t get to me… I’m also not known to be very sensitive. I don’t say that to demean people that are, it’s just how I am.

          3. I guess I’m lucky, but I’ve never really had a situation where I really liked somebody’s music and then found out they were an actual neo-Nazi for something. I’m not sensitive, I like a lot of stuff that’s considered “offensive” or in poor taste, but it’s generally satirical/absurd etc.  See The Frogs and so on.

      2. Hanging with a gay person doesn’t mean somebody can’t be homophobic.

        To be clear, I’m not making any comment on the band either way, just the old “I have lots of black/gay/whatever friends” argument.

  5. I really like Die Antwoord’s aesthetic and music, so am I just being an old fuddy duddy when I say that their lyrics (not to mention the angry and violent expressions) make me uncomfortable? Is it art when it’s that confrontational? I honestly don’t get it. Should I put it in the same context as watching a gruesome movie for entertainment? Or do they loose some credibility as artists when they are so crass? I mean, does being that angry/violent/disgusting/whatever actually empower anyone or make anyone think about social barriers/morals/the music industry/whatever in a meaningful way or are they just out to make money? Are they provocative art or tasteless exploitation?

      1. Ok, just read a bunch of their lyrics. Kind of weird but not the weirdest. I guess the kids are all right. 

        1. I like to think of art as the process of doing something intentionally for an effect (usually not a purely functional purpose, but reasonable minds can differ on that point). Lots of things are the products of art. Naturally occurring or completely accidental phenomena aren’t. It would be pretty difficult for me to understand how a song and music video could NOT be art.

          The products of art obey Sturgeon’s law of course.

    1. Maybe they make you uncomfortable because you do “get it.”  Maybe if you just bop to the rhythm while doing the dishes, you’re missing the point.

  6. People love ’em, people hate ’em, people have a hard time ‘getting’ them…they’re doing it right

    1.  Exactery.  It not only pushes the buttons, but obliterates them.  I love Die Antwoord for this reason, and because they are funny as hell.  WTF is wrong with people?  Oh yeah, they have no sense of humor, that’s what.

  7. I don’t particularly mind anything going on here, but I’d be curious what the deal is with the blackface bit. If it’s simply to “shock” that’s pretty weak low hanging fruit, if it’s some kind of social/satirical commentary I’d like to know what it is. I’ve always thought these folks were pretty clever so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, but I’d be interested to know..

    1. Wikipedia Tar-Baby:  “The more that Br’er Rabbit fights the Tar-Baby, the more entangled he
      becomes. In modern usage, “tar baby” refers to any “sticky situation” that is only aggravated by additional contact.”

      Pretty much a perfect synopsis of how criticizing Die Antwoord goes.

      1.  Yes, I’m aware.  I’m curious what they’re trying to say here, because using deliberately offensive imagery to shock is nothing new, and they seem more inventive than that.

    2. I imagine that it has a somewhat different context in South Africa than in the US, although not necessarily in a positive way.

      1. South Africa’s relationship with blackface isn’t the same as America’s at all as far as I can tell.

        There is the Cape Minstrels/Coon Carnival which is a tradition of the Cape Coloured people which is a full-on white-gloved, tambourine-slapping blackface routine, and then there’s someone like Leon Schuster who frequently blacks/browns/yellows up to perform pranks (often on racists), and he’s very popular amongst black people as far as I know (and has a weirdly huge following in Japan).

        I don’t know of any particular South Africa tradition of whites blacking up in the Al Jolson sense.

        I’ve seen plenty of locally crafted blackface/tar baby/mammy doll/golliwoggery in African street markets, and although I assume the proprietors aren’t poli-sci graduates, I’m pretty sure they aren’t offended by their own merchandise.

        1. Those sorts of images are viewed pretty differently pretty much everywhere but the US. It not really considered as offensive or insidious. For example I’ve got a cousin in Ireland who collects “mammy” style objects from the pre-Civil Rights Act US and Apartheid era South Africa. And in Ireland thats an entirely valid (if odd) thing for him to collect. Only when Americans come around does he have to explain why he’s interested in these thing. Effectively he was incredibly inspired by the civil rights movement and the push to end Apartheid. He saw a lot of similarities to his own country’s history. He also thinks their an absurd and hilariously offensive thing for anyone to ever make in the first place, and also pretty cheap and easy to come by. Most of the people around him tend to think of these images in about the same way: incredibly odd, kind of funny, and interesting historically. Americans just seem to assume he’s racist.

          1. He saw a lot of similarities to his own country’s history.

            How bizarre. Yeah, I’ve heard the kind of “American’s are obsessed with race” thing from lots of white Eurocentric folks around the world. I’m not sure I buy it. If you aren’t engaged in some kind of clever satire then don’t mock or appropriate somebody else’s culture.

    3. Look at the whole of the video, there’s a safari, a Lady Gaga impersonator, a bizarre parasite, exaggerated grass skirts, and variations on African dance and body painting. I’m fairly certain we’re dealing with a parody of Western depictions/expectations of Africa. And given the different way black face (and similar images) are viewed in the rest of the world I’d say its targeted at America in particular.

      1. Weird, I never thought white hipster artists lived that way, even in South Africa….. Is it a satire of what Americans think rough neighborhoods in South Africa are like, or what the entire continent is like?

        1.  Well, I think there is huge confusion among, say, Americans about Africa as such – hence the Mali grass skirt, which is actually found thousands of miles away in another part of Africa. The presence of the Lion King is also a joke, because the film was actually  situated in Kenya – far away from Joburg. But Rockey Street  is actually pretty rough – although perhaps not THAT rough.

  8. First of all I don’t think reading this as “Afrikaaners” in “blackface” is accurate or useful. Many of the outfits are references from traditional african ‘witchcraft’/medicine, INCLUDING the use of blackface by ….*gasp*…. black africans. See the work of Phyllis Galembo for examples: http://tang.skidmore.edu/index.php/calendars/view/139/tag:1/year:all

    Mister44 is right, their social norms are different. As a South African the imagery makes way more sense because of everything that is referenced. Given the context of last month’s mine shootings – which again inundated the world media with apartheid-era images of cops firing into large protesting crowds – I find it difficult to be offended by any of the self-reflexive vulgarity Die Antwoord uses. I think they are trying to make music/images as white africans during a very interesting time, and the power of their images is also testament to their global success. The role of 3rd world vernacular is becoming increasingly common within the upper echelons of global hipsterdom: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uYs0gJD-LE / https://vimeo.com/47670351 / http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBGEAw3Juwk

    1. When I saw blackface in the video, I expected many commenters to be livid, but if they are, they control it well. 
       He says he’s “takin’ over America, blowin’ up everything”
      I took the full body blackface to be custom tailored for export, to appeal to the target market, who cringes. 
      “Suddenly you’re interested ’cause we’re blowing up overseas 
      Make you money money money 
      Yes yes yes”
      Their offensiveness makes them more interesting. 
      I think they’re interesting. And funny.  And as offensive as they can muster. 
      I totally would understand people who feel offended.
      And they can be that.

  9. The “blackface” looks to me more like emulating the black panther from the beginning of the video, with those yellow eyes.

      1. Isn’t that the point of the video? Oooh, we’re in the Africa. Do you think that we’ll see any hyenas at the mall?

        1. Heh. My uncle had an American pen friend and he would write to him about hearing the lions roaring at night. There was a zoo up the road, but he kept that part secret.

          To be fair, I lived in the southern suburbs of Cape Town and actually drove past a pasture of zebra on my way to work in the city every morning. It’s a quagga re-breeding experiment, though, they’re not wild. Further south on the peninsula, you actually get baboons that break into homes for food.

  10. That’s funny and strange, I was just thinking about ‘Fatty Boom Boom’ today. It was a song played all the time on SABC radio in the 70s (and I guess nowhere else?) that my dad liked to sing.
    Ah, here it is:


    But I’m not going to try to listen to Die Antwoord’s take on it because I think they’re terrible…ag, ok I did and it they are. They make better movies than music. But as Jack Parrow says. ‘I’m here to rap not to make fucking movies.’

  11. I didn’t see anything that I wouldn’t give it a PG-13 rating….

    But then again I listen to a lot of Aphex Twin and Lords of Acid, so strange videos and vulgar lyrics are pretty standard in my music collection.

    (And people complaining about South Africans doing blackface…  I assume you all were upset when 90’s gangsta rap talked about killing each other and calling themselves the N word.)

    1.  I assume you all were upset when 90’s gangsta rap talked about killing each other and calling themselves the N word.)

      And there you have it……”why can’t we do it if they do it?”

  12. Explicit content is for kids. Gross content is for kids. Controversy is for kids. As a kid, I saw far worse than this and I turned out just fine.

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever known a kid to get offended over any media. Sure they might get traumatized but kids get trauma over the smallest of things like vanity plates. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/NightmareFuel/VanityPlates

  13. Can’t music and video just be a bunch of wacky stuff without deeper meaning? 

    True story and unintentional brag – saw Aphex Twin here in Australia earlier this year, and Die Antwoord randomly came on in the middle of the set and started rapping over the music. Was kind of an uncomfortable moment as they where pretty energetic and reasonably interesting, but no one seemed to know who / what they were.

  14. To me, as a South African, the video is hilarious.  I think it depicts what somebody like Lady Gaga might expect to see in Africa. Overseas visitors always seem to expect seeing lions in the streets, but here it’s a huge joke – they have never been seen prowling the streets. And of course we don’t have black panthers in South Africa. Unless you refer to the political kind, found only in the USA!

    Lady Gaga is depicted as driving in a real People’s Taxi – the way most South Africans get around in our country. In this context, the presence of her body guards is a hoot.

    The Gynaecologist extracts a Parktown prawn, a particularly nasty cockroach found in  Johannesburg, from the Lady. These prawns also featured in the District 9 movie (the aliens were Parktown prawns, whose numbers just keep on growing).

    Yo-Landi in Mali dress, and as a golliwog, reflects the confusion of persons from other continents as to what Africa is all about. Mali is many thousands of miles away from Joburg! The golliwog also reflects the work of the satirical South African comic-book artist, Anton Kannemeyer, who mocks overseas perceptions of Africa.

    Rockey Street in Johannesburg, where the action was shot, is truly a pretty hairy part of town.

    But of course the video is outrageous. In comparison, Lady G is tame and boring.

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