Thousands of fans woke up to an email from Ticketmaster early in September informing them that South African hip-hop collective Die Antwoord’s Sept. 24 show at Toyota Music Factory was “still on, but has been rescheduled.” The show will now take place in May 2020, but ticket holders needn’t distress — their tickets are “still good,” according to the email.
Die Antwoord, whose main members are Watkin Tudor “Ninja” Jones and Anri “Yolandi Visser” du Toit, uploaded a video to their website shortly after this announcement. In the video, titled “A MESSAGE FOR U,” Ninja states: “We’re busy with so much fucking shit at the moment.” He goes on to list all their current projects, including a new album and a “feature film,” that are dropping in 2020 before continuing, “Our people booked this tour for us in America before then, and we’re like … fuck.” Basically, that they’re too busy to come all the way over to America right now and would rather us be the first to hear them perform material from the new album scheduled for next spring.
But let’s be real here. We all know what’s been going on with them lately and the more likely motivation behind this tour “postponement.” In case you haven’t been following along, here’s the gist:
The group’s former cameraman recently came forward with a video he shot during a festival in Australia back in 2012. The 11-minute video shows bits and pieces of an altercation between members of Die Antwoord and gay musician Andy Butler. One of the most disturbing and controversial things about the video is that Yolandi can be heard in the background cheering on the fight and shouting things like “Run, faggot, run!” Toward the end of the altercation, she can even be heard laughing hysterically after Ninja hit Butler — that is, until Ninja tells her to stop.
Ninja then seeks out festival officials and accuses Butler of assaulting Yolandi in the restroom earlier in the evening and claims that was the reason for the fight. As they are all escorted back inside, Ninja comments on Yolandi’s “Oscar-winning performance,” since she quickly went from laughing and being excited about the fight to crying when they told their story to the festival officials. The staffers took this accusation very seriously and escalated it up to the director himself, who suggested removing Butler from the lineup and even having him arrested. Ninja insists in the video that he merely wants an apology from Butler and doesn’t want to see him go to jail.
Long story short, the video went viral and resulted in Die Antwoord being dropped from two high-profile festival lineups. Now, all of a sudden, they’re bailing on their U.S. tour this fall as well.
Ninja took to social media to defend their actions, claiming that the videographer “cleverly edited” the clip to make it look like a hate crime and stating, “This was just a fight with someone who fucked with us …This fight had nothing to do with the fact that this guy was gay. We don’t care about people’s sexual preference. Our DJ and best friend DJ HITEK is gay, and a lot of people in our crew are gay.”
“This was just a fight with someone who fucked with us …This fight had nothing to do with the fact that this guy was gay." — Die Antwoord's Ninja
The group posted a video response for fans as well. (Which, by the way, if anything is “cleverly edited,” it’s this video.) During the course of the video, Ninja details their interactions with Andy Butler throughout that music festival leading up to the fight, beginning with verbal confrontations and finally culminating in the alleged attack on Yolandi in the women’s restroom.
All of this doesn’t amount to much of a defense, honestly. As things usually go, the truth of the matter most likely lies somewhere in the middle. Whatever the real story may be, their behavior, both in that video and during the aftermath, is pretty cringe-y, and this is not the first time they’ve dealt with controversy.
Earlier this year, Australian rapper Zheani came forward with disturbing allegations that Ninja “trafficked” her to South Africa after becoming obsessed with her because of her resemblance to his and Yolandi’s teenage daughter.
Die Antwoord has built their career around glorifying the “zef” culture, which is the South African equivalent of, well … "white trash." While that very well may be just a persona that they embody onstage, they’ve been at this for over a decade now, and it’s not a stretch to assume that some of those ideas have become part of their actual lives as well. Bottom line, there are real-life consequences for acting like terrible human beings in today’s society, and Die Antwoord seems to be finding that out the hard way.