Nasty C is untouchable, and the Ivyson tour is just the latest in a long line of smart, crafty power moves since he joined Universal Music Group. Picture: MRSK

It only took the sight of Nasty C arriving at the foot of the stage to send those at the front of the crowd into pandemonium. Then, when the piano chords on Blisters, the intro to his sophomore album, Strings And Bling, started playing, the deafening screams of thousands of fans erupted from all corners of this arena at Melrose Arch.

There was no respite from this energy throughout the set. They sang, or rather screamed, each song word for word.

Over the years, Nasty C has built a deep connection with his fans. And that connection only seems to be getting deeper.

When the 21-year-old rapper said he was leaving Mabala Noise, the independent label under which he’d achieved so much to join Universal Music Group, it seemed like the perfect move.

After all, despite his age, his career was starting to feel stagnant following the dizzying heights he’d reached with his debut album, Bad Hair, in 2016.

On the eve of the release of Strings and Bling, Nasty explained the decision: “Reggie (owner of Mabala Noise) wasn’t really happy with how the people working at Mabala were handling my career. He felt like they were doing way less than what they were supposed to be doing.

“He thought it was better if he sent me off to a powerhouse that can do all of that stuff and is super dedicated.

“What I liked about Reggie is that he had the same goal and vision that I had: Like, this whole thing is bigger than me. This is about the ‘next’. I’m supposed to be the one from South Africa to really do it.”

Such has been his career trajectory since that move, that it’s difficult to believe he made that announcement eight months ago.

The roll-out and post-release marketing of Strings and Bling has been something to behold. Its formula has been centred around creating talkability.

One of the highlights was his absurd claim that he was pregnant with twins and posting pictures of pregnant bodies with his face photoshopped on them. Those twins, we’d learn, were Strings and Bling.

Then there was his botched haircut in New York, giving out his number on social media and, most recently, the uncanny string of Nasty C lookalikes that seem to pop up everywhere. His marketing has been relentless.

Aside from the gimmicks, Nasty C is penetrating the international market. His latest video, King, which features American rapper, A$ap Ferg, is broadening his horizon, clocking more views in the month since its release than any of his previous videos. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

ShingaiDarangwa

IOL