This is why Khuli Chana now goes by Khuli Yano – ‘Hip-hop wasn’t fun for me anymore’

Khuli Yano rides the amapiano wave with a new single, Buyile.
Universal Music Group/Nic Burger

His name is synonymous with Motswako rap. He's been called one of the best to ever do it and his flow had music fans swooning all over the country. 

Then he took some time and restrategized his career. Now he's back and has re-invented himself.

Khulani Morule was Khuli Chana to his fans for years. He now goes by Khuli Yano and he's made the switch from Motswako rap to amapiano with ease. 

We chat to the musician about what brought on the change.

“I think as a musician you need to be free and open minded and to be fun. What I found was that hip-hop was not fun for me anymore. The culture of politics, always competing, competition that is not healthy. Who has got more money than who to egos,” he says.

Something in hip-hop is not the same, the Hape le Hape hitmaker says.

Read more | ‘I am definitely a different person’ – Kwesta is dropping new music

“Khuli Yano is the rebirth,” he tells Drum.

Now, he is riding the amapiano wave and loving it. His new single on people’s lips is Buyile and it has done exactly what he thought it would.

“So, people should not shiver at thought of me doing amapiano, they talk about amapiano like it is a place,” he says with a laugh.

“I needed a street anthem. I wanted a comeback song,” he says.

He missed being on the charts and Buyile featuring Tyler ICU, Lady Du and Stino LeThwenny has hit the spot.

He has been quite booked and busy. Khuli has been seen performing with his wife, DJ Lamiez Holworthy. During her sets, she sneaks in her husband’s new song to the crowd’s delight.

“Every time I have done something that is authentically South African, I have always won. Always. That means that is what people love about me. That is what they love about the music like its home brewed, kea mo gae (it is home),” he says.

Read more | Lady Du on making Amapiano hits and her engagement to Andile Mxakaza

Whatever sound that becomes popular, Khuli says there is absolutely nothing wrong with an artists experimenting with it.

He admits though that there was a period in his music career when he became a bit of island.

“I have learnt to never make music in a bubble,” he explains.

"Collaboration is a major key. It is how we come stronger and how we grow."

“Collaboration is a major key. It is how we come stronger and how we grow. As someone who is considered an 'OG', I really do draw a lot of inspiration from the young ones. They are hungry, they also take me back to a time when I was that hungry.

“What keeps you in the game is learning to humble yourself and remember you are a student in the game,” he adds.

For those who keep asking about how he has been able to keep at it for this long, he says the journey of success is for those willing to walk it.

“It is the road less travelled. People only measure success by the hit song, the cars, the money. I think the successful people are those who have survived the drought in this game, if you can survive the drought and stand on your own two feet 10 or 20 years later, that is a real 'OG'. And when you have created a reputable brand and solid name for yourself,” he adds.