Touchline has finally released his highly anticipated third album S.O.O.N 2. Presented as a love letter to his fans and the broader community he exists in, he writes on the album cover, “A story by Thabo Mahlwele. Written during trying times. Moments when the world continues to face some of the greatest battles, a time where heroes need saving too…” ending the message with, “This is for you. Welcome to it. May You Have a Better Year.”
Believing in the healing power of music, and more specifically hip-hop, Touchline has earnestly put together this album as a form of elixir to his fans, whom he’s aware of the trying times they are currently going through. The pandemic has plunged communities across the country into what has felt like unending darkness. As such, Touchline wrote and conceptualised the album against this background.
Granted, the bulk of the album consists of previously released material that should be familiar with the most ardent of his fans, it is still within reason to conclude that the familiarity of those songs adds to the overall goal of the album, which is to comfort his people.
It then makes sense why he opens the album with the sombre but assuring “A South African Christmas”. In the song, amongst other things, he laments the death of young artists Mpura and Killer Kau’s sudden deaths, as well as sharing advice and uplifting musings, rapping “Appreciate your parents ‘cause some people go through their mother’s and father’s pictures, that’s as close as they can get since COVID hit us…”.
One of Touchline’s most apparent characteristic is that he sees himself as a thoughtful and wise young emcee whose outlook and insight can be worthy and relatable to those who receive it as he intends. On the nostalgic flip of L.T.D.’s “Love Ballad” resulting in “Actions Over Captions”, he raps, “Don’t cry over losses, they are part of life… rule number one, always feed each other, you pass me the money, I pass it to him, it’s tiki-taka…”.
The punchlines and wordplay, which are a staple in Touchline’s music, are in abundance on S.O.O.N 2. Songs like “A South African Christmas”, “Actions Over Captions”, “I’ll Always Have Me”, “Free Mode” and “Peace Hunting” are laden with crafty lines and smart quips. Songs like “Amasi” featuring Shakespear, King Sweetkid and Zolile_3K, along with “Abapheli” featuring Phantom Steeze and Loki display Touchline’s ability to collaborate fruitfully with other acts, resulting in memorable hit songs. The same applies with “Abafana Aba Hot”, which features veteran emcee and hit maker K.O – where Touch keeps up with the seasoned emcee.
Surprisingly, “Shukela (Sawubona)”, the amapiano song on the album fits perfectly in the ensemble of songs. Featuring Mandy ZA, who does the heavy lifting, the track is a sweet love song that finds Touchline blending in seamlessly with the slow amapiano groove. “Six” featuring Celza also deviates from the usual hip-hop sensibilities but it works. Above all, while the project does not consist of entirely new songs, it is still an impressive and notable body of work. Touchline continues his upward trajectory as a formidable emcee and all round brilliant artist in the South African hip-hop scene.
Listen to S.O.O.N 2 below: