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Die Antwoord: Live in Toronto [Photos/Review]

Toronto, ON – Last week, I had the honor of documenting one of the most controversial and visually stimulating hip-hop groups of our time – Die Antwoord.

Die Antwoord hail from South Africa and if you’ve ever watched any of their music videos, you will understand why so much controversy surrounds their act.

Because their aesthetics are always over the top, I expected their performance to be very high in energy and at a fast pace, but I had no preconceived notions regarding their fan base. As I parked my car to start my walk towards The Phoenix, it dawned on me that I truly had no idea what a typical Die Antwoord fan would look or sound like (even though I am one).

(Click the link below to continue reading and for exclusive photos)

Review & Photos: Die Antwoord Live at The Phoenix in Toronto –

What’s more, because of the group’s recent departure from a major recording deal with Interscope Records, I was unsure how many people would be at the venue.

As I got closer to The Phoenix, I was shocked to see a line-up outside of the venue that was almost a block long. It was the largest line-up that I had ever seen in front of The Phoenix and it was filled with the widest array of personalities and sub-cultures that I had witnessed at a concert.

There were all kinds of people of all ages, lined up to see Die Antwoord shut it down – people ranging from goths, countless individuals dressed like Yo-Landi Vi$$er and Ninja, typical hip-hop fans, hipsters, white-collared desk jockeys, drunken sorority girls, ravers and everything you can imagine in-between.

It was almost as if the cultural diversity and hybrid nature of Die Antwoord’s Zef-style hip-hop were able to bring together walks of life that would otherwise never convene.

When I eventually picked up my media pass and entered the venue, it was packed. In fact, I could barely move at any given point in time prior to entering the media pit and the amalgamation of different smells, the countless security officers and the wide variety of other people were practically overwhelming. I could literally feel the tension leading up to Die Antwoord’s set and at the same time, there was a positive and fun energy emanating throughout the space.

When Antwoord’s mysterious DJ Hi-Tek eventually walked onto the empty space, wearing a mask that was suited for a serial killer, The Phoenix went from being the most restless crowd in Toronto to being the loudest crowd in the city.

After a relatively short and awe-inspiring set that displayed Hi-Tek’s mastery as a turntablist, as well as the high quality of Die Antwoord’s production, the band’s cartoon-like vocalists attacked the stage with an onslaught of hit records from their “$O$” mixtape. The start of their set included records such as “Wat Kyk Jy”, “Wat Pomp”, “Rich Bitch”, “Enter The Ninja” and many other of their popular hits.

The group also performed a number of trance and dubstep-like records that I wasn’t familiar with and overall I was impressed with their execution of both old and new material.

Between the overall energy of the Zef stars, their super cool logo and set designs, the mystery surrounding DJ Hi-Tek, Ninja crowd surfing and Yo-Landi Vi$$er’s dramatic and animatronic-like poses, Die Antwoord seemed almost hyper-realistic and they were incredibly entertaining to witness.

Die Antwoord’s creativity and diversity as a group was more than apparent to me at their last Toronto show and in my mind, they also re-affirmed the fact that a unique and creative musical act no longer needs the intervention of a major record label to carry them to the peak that is success.

Written by Ajani Charles for HipHopCanada
Photography by Ajani Charles for HipHopCanada

Photography by Ajani Charles

Review & Photos: Die Antwoord Live at The Phoenix in Toronto –

Review & Photos: Die Antwoord Live at The Phoenix in Toronto –

Review & Photos: Die Antwoord Live at The Phoenix in Toronto –

Review & Photos: Die Antwoord Live at The Phoenix in Toronto –

Review & Photos: Die Antwoord Live at The Phoenix in Toronto –

Die Antwoord Videos

If you’re unfamiliar with Die Antwoord, check out the video below.

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Ajani Charles is a professional photojournalist, advertising photographer and cinematographer based in Toronto -- the Canadian city famed for its cultural diversity and the creative dynamism of its artistic community. A graduate of the nationally acclaimed Claude Watson Arts Program, Ajani also apprenticed at the Toronto School of Art, the Art Gallery of Ontario and at 235 Films. Though his images bear the distinctive stamp of his unique regard and sensibility, his work evidences an eclectic panoply of influences which includes Markus Klinko and Indrani, Jill Greenberg, Yousuf Karsh, Ansel Adams, Alexander Rodchenko, Richard Avedon, Nabil Elderkin, André Kertesz, David LaChapelle, Steven Spielberg, Hype Williams, Zack Snyder, Martin Scorsese, Helmut Newton, Annie Leibovitz and Jamel Shabazz. Ajani is also the founder and executive director of The Young Visionaries – a Toronto-based photography and cinematography program, providing education to youth from the city’s priority neighborhoods. In addition, Ajani has gained considerable notoriety in the Greater Toronto Area through his first photographic documentary, “Project T Dot” -- a visual chronicle of the city's Hip-Hop culture and community in its entirety through a wide-ranging collection of intimate and dramatic black and white photographs. In production since 2007, “Project T Dot” is currently scheduled for an early 2015 publication date.

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