Costa Titch on becoming a rapper & not being a cultural appropriator

Costa Titch on becoming a rapper & not being a cultural appropriator

Costa Titch/Instagram

You’ve probably seen him before — that short white dude throwing down on stage at a club or music festival.

As a part of the New Age Steez dance crew, 22-year-old Costa Tich, Costa Tsobanoglou to the government, has worked with some of biggest names in the game from Cassper Nyovest and Nasty C to Locnville and DJ Cleo. And he’s worked his ass off,

Videos of his choreography have been viewed over 1 million times on YouTube and even Chris Brown gave him props for a routine he did on the 2014 hit Loyal. But now the Mpumalanga-born homie is replacing his dancing shoes with the mic and foraying into the world of rap music.

We spoke to the guy about his rise, his peak and his next level…

Yout process or ‘journey’ of becoming a professional dancer and choreographer, what was that like?
It all started when I was very young, dance was just a hobby and I happened to be very good at it. I started taking it seriously with my best friend Benny Chill when we were about 15 years old — we managed to take on big dance crews in Johannesburg and landed up dominating the scene within our [age division] before we went international and placed 14th in the world at Hip Hop International Dance Competition. After Matric I decided to move to Johannesburg and take dance as a career.  Since then I’ve managed to network and gain a lot of respect in the industry from all of my accolades and I ended up getting choreography jobs.

Having worked with some high profile artists, how do you pick which ones to work with?
New Age Steeze is by far the best entertainment crew in South Africa and therefore with all the accolades we have achieved as a crew and as individuals, we offer quality work that artists cannot find anywhere, therefore it all boils down to relationships and budgets, if the artist can afford our rates then we good to go as well as whether the artist will benefit our brand, plays a huge role in terms of us choosing which artists to work with.

Is there a choreography piece that you’ve done and when you look back at it, you think ‘Damn, I really killed this’?
There has been plenty of choreography pieces I’m really proud of however, my absolute favourite would be the time New Age Steeze and I worked on Cassper Nyovests Fill Up The Dome, he made history with that concert and we did too by being a part of it.

You getting into rap, was that a natural progression from dancing or is it something you’ve always done?
I’ve always been interested in music, I just happened to focus more on the dancing side of things. I’m all about the vision I see and what can get me to achieve that vision. Dancing didn’t meet what I’ve envisioned my whole life and therefore once I started realising I’m really good at making music, it all started to fall into place. Dancing got me into the right spaces in the industry and I started to learn from really big artists in terms of the moves they made and decisions they took, it all started to make sense once I took the leap of faith and started to shift my brand towards being an artist and not a back up dancer anymore.

A number of white people who have made strides in industries or disciplines that are classically ‘black’ have been accused of cultural appropriation. Is this something you worry about? What are your thoughts on cultural appropriation?
Not at all, if you are a culture vulture then that is something to be worried about, I have lived and breathed hip-hop since I was very small, it’s something that has been a part of my life and I know that my supporters can see that. I have nothing to be worried about and, in fact,  in the South African industry, it gives me an advantage because let’s face it, who else is white and can dance and rap at the same time, on the level I can?

Highlight of your career thus far?
Wow, I’ve had so many great experiences that it’s hard to pick one. Something that really stands out though, was doing the closing performance at the DSTV Mzansi Viewers Choice Awards alongside Phantom Steeze, DJ Cleo and the Eskhaleni team. This was my first time performing music at a big award show in South Africa and if I look back, just 1 year ago I was dancing on those stages, so it was truly a blessing and I’m incredibly grateful to have been a part of that.

Which dancers or dancer do you absolutely fear and which, do you think, would you destroy in a dance battle?
I do not fear any dancers, I’ve proved all there is to prove in terms of the dance industry, I have proved my self internationally in terms of battles by placing Top 8 worldwide at Hip Hop International, I have won SA Championships countless times in the crew categories. Therefore I do not fear anyone or have to prove that to anyone who feels like they ‘better’ than me. I won’t name and shame anyone; my brand does not represent that.

Are there any projects you’re working on now that people should look out for?
I’m finishing off my debut EP and thus far the singles I have released are making good moves in the industry. A lot of other projects are coming, however, I cannot mention them yet.

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