Khuli Chana fans would say it has barely been a “minute” since the hip hop star last made some bangers.
But the star of his new single Buyile (“I Am Back” in Zulu) is a perfect reintroduction. Featuring Tyler ICU, Lady DU and Stino Le Thwenny, Chana admits he never heard of Stino Le Thwenny when they contacted him about new music.
He says KO’s manager reached out to him for a new song and they wanted to include him in it.
“It took me a while to vibe with the song, eventually I reheard it and I thought oh my God I would be so jealous if I wasn’t on the song. It was my kind of joint.” Khuli says he gave him a good verse: “The guys reminded me of my self, their chemistry, their humour, they are resilient, they are patient. Everything about them took me back to my love of making music.”
Khuli then took a drive to the Free State and recorded the song with Stino Le Thwenny. Focalitsic, the Ke Star hitmaker, suggested that Tyler ICC would make a great addition to the track.
“It is exciting, especially when you are in a place where you have done it all, but you humble yourself to the younger artists.”
In a career that has spanned several years, Khuli has not been scared to experiment, with some of his fans not jamming with it. “It used to touch me when people said, I miss the old Khuli.”
He says when he was younger and he made music such as No More Hanger in his 20s, his experiences were different.
“But now I get it, I have to be honest, at the moment when we were recording the song, I felt like the old Khuli. I wasn’t overthinking it, I wasn’t even thinking about the business, it was just pure fun.”
He admits that when working on the song, people were blunt in saying they wanted the “old Khuli” back.
“I did detach from my old music, I listened to my first album for the first time in years. Listening to it blew my mind.”
The four-time Sama winner says he could feel the disconnect from past projects to now. His latest single, Buyile, is high energy, the inspiration from amapiano (the “yanos”).
“What was challenging for me is that I needed it not to sound like I was jumping on the wave. I needed something wholesome, but also to take my fans down memory lane.”
This move has been helped with him signing with Universal Music, Khuli’s first record deal in 10 years. The partnership has been blissful, he says, enabling him to “amplify the vision”.
“I’ve earned my stripes, there is so much in my catalogue. I guess that is why they trust me with so much creative freedom.”
Buyile is climbing up the charts and the music video was released earlier this month. Khuli teased there is more hit music on the way.