Costa Titch‘s debut album Made in Africa plays out like a collection of club bangers designed for robust live performances and the dancefloor. Not surprising for an artist who doubles as a dancer, and always makes sure to include that element of his artistry in his music videos and performances.
Costa Titch’s success started as a joke. His breakout single “Nkalakatha” was a modern embellishment of late kwaito star Mandoza‘s mega-hit single of the same name. Mandoza’s 2000 classic is a great song, and one that is the go-to for South Africa’s white population in gatherings like rugby matches and end-of-year functions.
A young white man couldn’t have chosen the most cliché song to modernise. At first, a reasonable number of people on social media dismissed him as a gimmick or an appropriator. Lucky for him, that was just one small portion of the internet.
The song’s remix, which features SA hip-hop superstars AKA and Riky Rick, recently crossed the one-million mark on YouTube. Great numbers by South African standards.
Both rappers appear on the 17-track project in the songs “Areyeng” and “Blessings”. Joining them are the likes of DJ Maphorisa, YoungstaCPT, Boskasie, Frank Casino and 25K among others.
The album’s guestlist alone is enough for one to take Costa Titch seriously. But the music, too, doesn’t disappoint. Most of the album is club-oriented bangers—catchy hooks and bass-heavy trap beats that owe their tang to a wide selection of pads and synths.
Costa Titch’s an anomaly. Most of his lyrics are in indigenous South African languages, mostly IsiZulu and SeSotho. Afrikaans makes an appearance in the song “Wag ‘N Bietjie” which features YoungstaCPT.
Costa Titch isn’t fluent in either IsiZulu or Sesotho. He revealed in a Slikour On Life interview that he picks up the languages’ phrases from his friends, mostly for the purpose of making songs. Make of that information whatever your politics dictate, but there’s no denying that Costa Titch’s formula works.
Slikour recently penned an Op-Ed in which he wagers the rapper could become the leader of the new wave—the newest generation of South African hip-hop that is making its way into the mainstream.
Made In Africa bolsters Slikour’s argument. In the album, the rapper gathers the crème de la crème of SA hip-hop and makes sure each guest spreads their unique flavour in the album. DJ Maphorisa and Riky Rick, two OGs who have embraced the new amapiano sound, appear on “Areyeng”, a song that borrows its hook from kwaito—their names are chanted by a choir of women over undulating synths and a thumping bassline. The hook wouldn’t feel out of place in a song by DJ Tira or any Durban kwaito artists of the late 2000s era.
Costa Titch – Thembi Ft. Boity (Official Music Video) (Explicit)
Costa Titch could be the answer to South African hip-hop reclaiming its spot on mainstream platforms and resonating beyond hip-hop circles. He employs a formula that has always worked—South African hip-hop artists taking whatever style is popular in the US and adding South African languages and slang, in the case of the 2014-2016 era, and now Costa. Alongside Focalistic, whose music meshes hip-hop and amapiano, Costa Titch is making music that meets South African fans halfway through catchphrases from classic kwaito songs and rapping in indigenous South African languages. It’s a formula that has worked for K.O., Kwesta, Riky Rick and many of the country’s major hip-hop artists.
Made in Africa doesn’t do much to introduce the listener to the person behind Costa Titch. It’s not that kind of album. As mentioned previously, it’s made up of bangers and has plenty of guests. Almost every song is designed to be a single. So, there aren’t any deep cuts in which the artist digs deep into his personal life to share heartfelt stories and vulnerability. The only instance is the song “Holy Rain” in which he reflects on his ongoing rise to the top of the SA hip-hop food chain—from being Cassper Nyovest’s dancer to being tasked with “saving the game”.
Made in Africa is as jiggy as they come and will keep fans entertained while watching Costa Titch’s trajectory unfold. The skits on the album act as reaffirmations for Costa Titch whose acceptance by the hip-hop community depends not only on his hits but his legitimacy as a white kid coming into hip-hop.
In the album-opener, Ms Cosmo sounds unconvinced and needs more work from Costa Titch, and mentions she hopes he proves her wrong. Eight songs later, a clip of Scoop confessing his admiration for Costa Titch’s music and story, plays in the amiable “Always” which features Boskasie. With Made In Africa, the rapper from Mpumalanga will sure win more fans over. It’s a fun album that wasn’t overthought during its creation, and as a result is an easy listen.