Tragedy struck the South African music industry on the night of March 11 as rapper and dancer Costa Titch collapsed on stage during his final song at the Ultra Music Festival at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg. Born Constantinos Tsobanoglou in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, in 1995, the 27-year-old rising star was known for his contributions to the Amapiano genre with hits such as “Big Flexa,” “Nkalakatha,” and “Activate.”
Videos of the incident circulated on social media showing the South African rapper falling to the ground during his performance but being helped back up by his bodyguard to continue singing. However, he slumped a second time and was then carried off stage. Costa was rushed to the hospital, but he passed away shortly after from unknown causes.
South African media personality Phil Mphela confirmed the news on Twitter, writing, “RIP: Costa Titch. Nelspruit-born artist and dancer, real name Costa Tsobanoglou, has passed away. He was 27.” Costa’s family also confirmed the news of his passing in a statement, thanking his fans for their support and asking for time and space to grieve.
As a backup dancer, Costa originally began his music career before becoming a rapper. He recently signed a deal with Akon’s record label, Konvict Kulture, and was on the rise in the music industry.
Costa’s death is yet another huge loss for the South African music industry following the shooting death of his colleague, Kiernan Forbes, also known as AKA, in February. The South African music community has been left in shock and mourning over the tragic loss of such talented artists, and their legacies will continue to live on through their music.
Tsobanoglou was rapidly gaining popularity in South Africa as a prominent figure in the amapiano genre, characterized by its deep house, log-drum basslines and soulful piano melodies. His unique rap style blends the nation’s culture, style and native languages with global sub-genres such as trap music, which originated in Atlanta’s flourishing hip hop scene.
Following the triumph of his song “Big Flexa” on TikTok, Tsobanoglou’s fame skyrocketed across Africa. He recently teamed up with a record label launched by Senegalese-American musician Akon, who featured in a remix of “Big Flexa”.