May 25, 2022

Touchline The New Biggest Thing

It’s been a while since something like this happened a relatively unknown hip hop artist creates an album with a few friends, pushes it hard on the internet, and within days of release it becomes the number one South African album on Apple Music.
So when South African rapper Touchline did this in early February, it raised eyebrows and forced us to pay attention.
It’s been just over a month since Touchline released his latest project, “S.O.O.N 2 (A Better Year)”.
Thanks to some smart marketing, striking visuals and a few major industry co-signs, S.O.O.N 2 has set Touchline’s career into motion in a big way.
“S.O.O.N” stands for “Something Out Of Nothing”, so it’s fitting that the main overarching theme of the project seems to be his journey from a kid in Tembisa to a popular rapper on the verge of stardom.
The concept for “S.O.O.N” came four years ago when he released the first instalment of the series.
At that time, Touchline’s eagerness to prove his skills as a rapper led to him rapping his socks off on other artists’ beats, desperate to show the world that he was just as good, if not better, than everyone else.
After the challenges of the past few years, he thought it prudent to create a new project that essentially allowed him to reset and bring him back to where he started.
In the midst of the hype around his album, industry co-signs have been pouring in. The most recent (and probably most important) one came from Summer Love hitmaker, Cassper Nyovest.
“Touchline I love your project,” he Tweeted a few weeks ago. “You’re such a good writer. Your word play is above par. Very witty. Bless up.”
For an artist who’s often found himself sidelined from the mainstream over the years, a co-sign as big as this was a huge moment for him and, in a way, signified his arrival. “It doesn’t get realer than this,” he responded. “Ngiyabonga njayam.”
“S.O.O.N 2” is packed with gems.
“Shukela (Sawubona)”, the project’s standout single, sees Touchline showcasing his sturdy lyricism as effortlessly as ever, while also flexing his growing ability as a storyteller.
The song even earned him “Song of the week” honours on Apple Music in the week of release.
On “Free Mode”, he retells the story of his first breakthrough as a newcomer trying to get his song playlisted on YFM.
“I inherited the fire pen, burned the disk and went to YFM. On the 99th attempt, 99.2 did the right thing. Forever grateful DJ Sabby, Zan D that was such a breakthrough.”
There are more stories like this, detailing his gradual and at times bumpy rise in the music industry.
“Abapheli”, a likeable, trappy summer anthem, sees Touchline ease up on the witty, cerebral rhymes as he enlists fellow newcomers Phantom Steeze and Loki for a rare moment of pure, meaningless fun.
If Touchline is going to truly become a mainstay on the mainstream, he’s going to need to make more of this sort of song.
The sort of the song that can get people in the club dancing and slurping lyrics, while also having the type of catchy hook that lends itself to frequent radio play.
Touchline has a hunger for success that comes out through his music, his interviews and how he carries himself.
Christmas Day of last year is the perfect example. While most of us were kicking back and enjoying time with family, Touchline was hard a work recording “A South African Christmas”, a song that paid tribute to the pain and suffering South Africans have experienced over the past few years, while at the same time sharing a message of gratitude and hope.
The song would go viral on social media that very same day, garnering hundreds of thousands of views. In a recent interview with SlikourOnLife, Touchline explained how it came about.
“I wrote ’A South African Christmas’ on the morning of the 24th,” he explained.
“I recorded the song and then on Christmas in the morning, I shot the video. And then during the day on Christmas, everyone’s still chilling and I’m busy editing lyrics.
“I haven’t slept in two days because I’ve been busy with the song. And then we uploaded sometime in the afternoon.” After they uploaded the video, Touchline finally went to sleep, waking up intermittently to check engagement and retweet fan posts. Before long, the video went viral.
It’s this level of work ethic that’s helped him beat the odds to make it this far.
Although he’s still got a long way to go if he’s to achieve his goal of reaching the very top of SA hip hop, he’s certainly on the right track.
Just this week, he celebrated reaching 1 million total plays on Apple Music. If he continues on like this, I can see him amassing millions more.

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