An often mind-bogglingly stupid album.
Die Antwoord’s most interesting aspect has always been the personalities at the center of their music. On their otherwise wildly inconsistent fourth (and possibly final) album, Mount Ninji and da Nice Time Kid, the most inspired moments come when they remember this. As the international envoy for South African “zef” culture, Ninja plays a guy who always thinks he’s a little more gangsta than he actually is. On “Fat Faded Fuck Face,” he pathetically mumbles threats through a hungover haze as co-MC Yolandi Visser screams at him to get out of bed. On “Daddy,” he’s the idle, rich criminal, showing off his spoiled daughter (played by Yolandi, of course) as a status symbol. On “We Have Candy,” he decides he’ll take a cup of hot coffee instead—“black, like my soul.” He’s not doing much actual Ninja-ing these days, and his formerly sharp flow has dulled to a sort of Southern-rap mumble, but he’s still a hoot as long as he sticks to his strengths.
As for Yolandi, she’s one of the most intriguing hip-hop alter egos this decade. We know now that she’s Anri du Toit, Ninja’s 31-year-old lover and mother of his child, but early on, her inscrutability was the most dangerous and disturbing thing about the group. She seemed ageless, almost species-less, a horror-movie demon doing a terrible job of pretending to be a sweet little girl. She’s more terrifying than she’s been in years on Mount Ninji—shrieking like a bratty child on “We Have Candy” and “Daddy,” squealing orgasmically on “Gucci Coochie” as the canned voice of dancer Dita Von Teese breathlessly proclaims, “She gets everything she wants.”
DJ Hi-Tek, now going by the moniker God, mostly stays in the background. Given the homophobic tirade he spat on their second album Ten$ion, this is probably a good thing. As ludicrous as it would be to praise Die Antwoord for being PC, at least the skit where Yolandi calls out a lyric for sounding “gay” is funny at the expense of hyper-masculinity rather than actual gay people. However, it’s unfortunate that, given the rich personalities they have to work with, they mostly use the grungiest, most clichéd edgy-isms to communicate their brand of horror. The line “come to the dark side, we have candy,” ripped from a decade-old meme, wouldn’t be funny if Ninja wasn’t there to ask for coffee instead. Gothic carnival affectations abound, from the operatic toil-and-trouble choir that opens the album to the carnival organs that Jack Black (yes, Jack Black) duels with on “Rats Rule.” And after an interminable 16 tracks over 54 minutes, all the dick jokes and references to fucking your bitch get tiring and lose whatever bite they might have had.
There are a few clever moments. Ninja makes fun of a fan who’s “all up in the club in a onesie.” (I know a few Die Antwoord fans who are very proud of their onesies.)Then there’s the part where they entice anonymous child rapper Tommy Terror into a “hole” with the promise of “Niggas! Not fake niggas—real niggas!”
The presence of Lil Tommy Terror, who appears on two mid-album tracks and who the duo claims is only six years old, is the most legitimately disturbing part of the whole album. Who is he? Is he cool with saying all these awful things? Moreover, is it cool to make a child that young say such awful things? What’s the difference between a child rapping about drawing dicks on your face and those dough-faced kids in Stand by Me saying “fuck” every other word? It’s actually kind of thought-provoking—which is not an adjective one would normally associate with Die Antwoord, especially not on this occasionally great but often mind-bogglingly stupid album.