After collapsing on stage during a performance in Johannesburg on 11 March, South African dancer and rapper Costa Titch (born Costa Tsobanoglou) passed away at the age of 28.
Initially entering the entertainment industry as a dancer with Cassper Nyovest, another South African hip-hop star, he later shifted his focus towards rapping and experimenting with the country’s amapiano dance music genre. Titch gained popularity with his hit track “Big Flexa” and was poised for success in the South African music scene.
As a white man in a predominantly Black hip-hop culture, Titch challenged the widely-held belief that “white men can’t dance” through his elaborate urban dance routines and his use of African languages in his music. Some may view his presence in the South African music scene as polarizing, while others see it as unifying.
As a symbol of South Africa’s rainbow nation – as used by the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu to describe different ethnic groups living and working together and moving on from apartheid’s brutal past – aspirations, he embodied the ideals of the country’s multiculturalism and moving beyond apartheid’s violent past.
Titch’s recent signing to Akon’s label, Konvict Kulture, had many believing he was destined for great things. However, his untimely death marks another loss for the South African hip-hop scene, which has seen several high-profile deaths in recent years, including HHP, Prokid, Flabba, Riky Rick, DJ Dimplez, DJ Citi Lyts, and AKA.
The successes of these artists offered hope to young South Africans in poverty, violence, and uncertainty, showing that hip-hop could be a way out of difficult circumstances.
Titch’s embrace of South African diversity and multiculturalism in his music and personal life serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration.
In challenging racial and cultural boundaries, he embodied the ideals of a “rainbow nation,” joining the ranks of other artists who defy rigid racial divides to promote a multicultural society. The loss of Costa Titch is a tremendous blow to the South African music scene and the country’s spirit of multiculturalism.