Max Normal (or, Die Antwoord v.1.0)


Of all the weird bands we’ve blogged about here on TWBITW, the one that’s gotten by far the biggest response so far is Die Antwoord, the South African “zef rap-rave crew” fronted by a scrawny, prison-tatted MC named Ninja and an even scrawnier singer/rapper/fly-girl named Yo-landi Vi$$er. Like a lot of baffled yet undeniably delighted observers, we suspected the whole thing might be a put-on, but there was something so awesome about the group’s outlandish attitude that we decided they were probably for real.

Well, it turns out we were had—sort of. Die Antwoord is actually the latest incarnation of another group called Max Normal, an earlier hip-hop crew which also featured the inimitable Ms. Visser (minus the dollar signs) and a fellow by the name of Waddy Jones, an actor/musician/artist/troublemaker who, before he created the Ninja character, fronted his Max Normal crew in a three-piece suit and (according to a band site that’s been taken down but is still viewable in archive form) performed “motivational speaking style raps” to deliver “high energy hip-hop power point presentation[s].” Quite a far cry from Die Antwoord’s ghetto fabulous approach, although judging from the above publicity photo, both groups do share the same Keith Haring-esque design aesthetic.

Waddy and co. have clearly attempted to cover their tracks: the old website has been taken down and replaced with a deliberately primitive-looking WordPress “advertising blog” [Update: It’s now been taken down altogether] ; similarly features a very plain-envelope article directory link farm, which we’re guessing (although we can’t find an archived version) has not always been the case. [Update: It now redirects, randomly, to this guy‘s visual artist website.] Even the Max Normal Wikipedia page was just taken down yesterday—ostensibly for copyright infringement. [Update: It’s since been restored and gives a very good and seemingly accurate history of the band.]

Not that we’re complaining about any of this. As the rest of the blogosphere has already widely proclaimed, what Jones and his crew are doing is so clever that an added layer of Borat-like chicanery is all just part of the fun. So enjoy this Max Normal video—which, as near as we can tell, is about two years old—and appreciate a.) how fucking versatile these guys are, and b.) how much better they’ve gotten in just a few years. If Waddy Jones doesn’t have his own HBO special by this time next year, we’ll guzzle the juice in this fish paste jar.

[Update: The video we originally posted has since been taken down due to a copyright claim. This one is even older, apparently dating back to 2001.]

[Bonus factoid: the dude in Die Antwoord with progeria has been widely identified as an artist/DJ named Leon Bartha Botha. Another zef rap-rave mystery solved! (And thanks to reader David for correcting our fucked-up spelling of his name.)]

[Sad update dept.: Botha died on June 5, 2011, of complications from progeria, which among things apparently speeds up the aging process. He was 26 and the oldest known survivor of progeria at the time of his death. We belatedly pour one out for you, Leon.]

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27 thoughts on “Max Normal (or, Die Antwoord v.1.0)

  1. I was curious if you ever thought of changing the layout of
    your blog? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.

    But maybe you could a little more in the way of
    content so people could connect with it
    better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or two pictures.
    Maybe you could space it out better?

  2. Derek

    Forgot to mention that Neon Don was a member of MaxNormal.TV. He played the gangster role that Watkin would later adopt as Ninja. I love that, as Max Normal, Watkin portrayed himself as the positive alternative to (and even sometimes the victim of) a life of crime and drugs and now, as Ninja, he’s “become the enemy”, corrupting Yolandi’s innocent school girl character himself and completely adopting the thug life he spoke out against for 10 years.

  3. Pingback: PLANET://DAMAGE » Blog Archive » DIE ANTWOORD: before Die Antwoord there was Max Normal and Max Normal.TV

  4. Pingback: Die Antwoord – $O$ | DorkSide

  5. Dana

    I’m all for weirdness and original material but this is too over the edge. I can’t believe these people have kids. What role models we have for our future.

  6. Kurt

    My first intro to the world of Mr Jones was at a live gig where he decided to crowd surf without letting the crowd no first.Classis moment,the glasses nd tennis shorts lol.Then to progress to MAX NORMAL then to Die Antwoord best nd most classic move. ZEF for life

  7. Yup, my perceptions of the group have evolved since being initiated into Die Antwoord, very interesting. Pitty so many people out there mouth off so much about them. I add my bit to Youtube comments to defend our CT/Pretoria brethren!! And I’ll buy the CD, which I NEVER EVER would do normally for ANY group except Bob Marley.

    1. weirdestband

      Bob Marley and Die Antwoord…now there’s a combination! What else have you guys got going on down there in S.A.? Any other weird Cape Town bands we should know about?

  8. weirdestband

    Thanks for the tip! We’ll check out Constructus Corporation, too…maybe Waddy Jones and co. can have our first-ever Weird Band trifecta.

  9. Chloe

    I love’s music and die antwoord and they were also involved in another weird (but yet awesome) band called Constructus Corporation

    I have all their albums

    I fucking love these guys

    thanks for the post

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