Whenever she’s on leave from work, my cousin Amina will don a pair of Burberry sunglasses and jet set to the idyllic ocean city of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Her best friend is a DJ at a Billionaire’s club so she’s always guaranteed a great time. The minute her feet would land back on Kenyan soil, I’d soak up her tales of the luxurious indulgence of Dar es Salaam nightlife. She’d recount memories of champagne tastings, yacht parties under the moonlight, and exciting misadventures at the concerts of artists whose names appear frequently in both our Apple Music playlists. One of those names is Costa Titch. 

I remember the story she recounted of one particular night when Costa Titch flipped Dar-es-Salaam on its head. It was summer 2022 and ‘Big Flexa’, with its basketball team of features, had just dropped. Like the bombs over Baghdad, it decimated charts, airwaves, and streaming platforms alike. It was the hottest track of the summer, and Amina was among the lucky ones who got to see Costa Titch perform it live in Dar. Her face lost in memory as she recalled how on the elevated platform of the stage, Costa had the gait and attitude of a born giant. So naturally, she was quite startled when after the performance, Costa Titch and his crew swaggered past her and she noticed how the crown of his head was level with her chest. 

Constantinos Tsobanoglou, alias Costa Titch, is an artist whose music is bigger than his stature; bigger than life. Born in 1995 to a Greek father and a white South African mother, Costa’s soul was African through and through but phonetically, he was as white as they come. His lyricism was layered with a natural Zulu, his demeanor coated with a bold African flavor and pure unadulterated confidence, and his style imbued with themes of a black South African-ness. 

Born in the city of Nelspruit or Mbombela in Mpumalanga, South Africa – Costa moved to Johannesburg in 2014 to pursue a career as a professional dancer. He formed a dance troupe called the New Age Steez Dance Crew and made it all the way to the The Hip Hop International Dance Competition, where they came in 14th place. However, it was the music that called him to step into his birthright. 

In 2018, he released the song ‘Activate’ to commercial success. With its caliginous synths and deep rumbling bass, Costa lyricizes a kind of self-security that he implies that no one can come close to touching. The opening lyrics, ‘it’s my time/y’all gonna learn’ – a foreshadowing of the fame and celebration that awaited him in the not-too-distant future.

A future that is now the past, that place that all future and present moments must inevitably retire to. 

Then came ‘Nkalakatha Remix’ in 2019 featuring AKA and Ricky Rick, all of whom are now deceased. Ricky Rick from suicide in 2022. AKA from a viral murder in 2023. Ricky Rick’s first verse starts as he ominously raps, ‘we never die /we multiply’, before the high-energy of the mzansi-infused trap beat drops. 

However, it was ‘Big Flexa’ that missiled him into stardom, cementing him as an Amapiano household name. With the pulsating log drums ubiquitous of the sub-genre, Costa Titch tells the story of hip-hop opulence, painting a picture of Pateks, Dom Perignon, and BMWs. The song quickly became an earworm for many, even those of us on this side of the continent who don’t understand Zulu. The song is fun. Braggadocious. Aspirational. It was a motif on the night-club scene. Costa Titch spent most of 2022 touring the world and performing his hits. He was at Sol Fest alongside Sauti Sol and Harmonize, he performed at The Omeara in London, he was live in Melbourne, among various other venues in various other continents. 

I’m a top boy you can find me in London / just kidding you can find me in Zanzi / big Flexa big vibes major league / dropped one hit took the boy overseas…

Costa Titch, ‘Bula Boot’. 

True to its name – his 2022 album, ‘Mr. Big Flexa’ is a solid body of work embodying the very spirit of a big spender. The album translates to part cocky self-assertion, part the meditations of a humble boy from Nelspruit, still getting accustomed to the nuances of fame. Lyricism surfing a wave of Amapiano beats.

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