Khulane Morule, a Motswako (a South African Hip-Hop style which fuses Setswana and English) lyricist. He's well known for his hit songs, showstopping verses and fluid flows but what stands out is his role as a stylistic pioneer. He's part of a handful of legendary South African MCs that have furthered South African Hip-Hop as a whole (alongside Skwatta Camp, Tuks, HHP, AKA and a few others).
Within a South African content, there's various sub-genres of Hip-Hop. The most prominent original styles being Pantsula and Motswako. Pantsula rose to the forefront of South African Hip-Hop through Hip Hop Pantsula's (HHP) rise to fame and popularity. HHP's influence is unforgettable. He was able to pander to every single demographic as his infectious energy, cool rhymes and fusion of cultures (SeSotho, isiZulu, English and Afrikaans) led to him being an icon as he portrayed a gangster yet streetwise nature. Pantsula eventually lead to South Africa's most notable style ever (outside of our jazz styles), Kwaito. Khuli Chana's rise to fame was South Africa's second coming of a new and original Hip-Hop stylistic genre.
Motswako originated within two landscapes: Botswana and South Africa. In the mid 90s, Mr T (now known as Nomadic) created a demo which received large acclaim from radio stations. It mixed traditional English rap with Setswana. This later expanded towards Zulu, French and Afrikaans. By the late 90s, HHP and the duo, Baphixile, started rapping in Tswana which resulted in growing popularity. However, by 2011, it grew to unfathomable levels as Khuli dropped his debut album, Motswakoriginator.
Although not exactly being the originator, similar to Drake's influence on singing, he popularized it and definitely deserves credit for the genre's progression. Khuli followed the basic principles of Motswako by learning to use creative writing skills to make music that is incredibly memorable while using local languages, musical characteristics and content. Nobody can make Motswako in the same manner as Khuli. In essence, Khuli makes "feel good" music but it's different. It's not overly mainstream and is still incredibly insightful and lyrically astounding.
His debut album changed South African music. Motswakoriginator is a compilation of songs focused on portraying how his struggles have led to a good life filled with optimism and enjoyment. This body of work starts off with a great run. "Futhumatsa" precedes the hit single, “Twakstikem”. The hit single was produced by IV League and has become a staple within Khuli's discography. On it, Khuli pays homage to the city that led to his rise, Pretoria, although he originates from Mafikeng. “No More Hunger, Pt 1” follows and features Jr, it focuses on motivating about the importance of hustling while providing socio-political commentary about the obstacles that local communities face to put food on the table. It's incredibly insightful and timeless. After a few spins, it's safe to see why it was a hit on South African radio stations and charts.
“Konka” is another single from the album. It features an gifted vocalist, Tarmarsha. Content focuses on Khuli explaining himself. He discloses who he is, his vices, struggles and upbringing. His introspective writing resonates so easily with listeners as his West Coast styled flow and fusion of Hip-Hop with South African music elements allows South Africans to reflect on their own circumstances. The song has notions of pessimism within the storytelling but yet Khuli's voice and instrumental continues to bring a sense of hope and a "feel good" vibe. “Freshe” is one of Khuli's biggest songs to date. In fact, most people were introduced to Khuli through this song. With one of the coolest music videos (you're welcome to fight @Puseletso__ on Twitter) within South African Hip-Hop history, the song was bound to be huge besides his remarkable ear for production. This is probably the pinnacle of a "feel good" song. With angelic vocal chords within the background, a cold flow, classic production and an adante delivery - its a song that inspires a fresh outlook on life and being confident.
Khuli's constant mention of Pretoria is what makes him different. Paying homage is always important and Khuli went as far as dedicating an entire song towards the world's greatest country (YES, COUNTRY!). “Pitoria” features L Skillz and Kay Gizm. It speaks about his appreciation for the city that supported his come up and music. Referencing Pretorian culture, places and our very own language. Khuli clearly loves Pretoria but to be fair, Pretoria loves him too for furthering our own sounds.
“Jivas Febulous” features Morafe. It's another hit single and it is mostly suitable for the club or party scenarios. It's upbeat while Morafe and Khuli's chemistry in uncanny as they made a song with endless replay ability and a sense of harmony.The corresponding song is “Standwa Sam” and that features Towdee Mac. It's a love song where he explains his strong affection about a special lady. With infused pop elements, Khuli manages to attach another sound direction as he shines on another style. “No More Hunger, P2” acts as a continuation of “No more hunger Pt, 1” but its different. The first part was softer and fuses jazz elements while this one is more gritty.
All in all, Khuli Chana's debut album in 2011 was exceptional. Whether providing socio-political commentary, producing timeless energy filled songs or lyrical showings - Khuli differentiated himself. Whether in English or Tswana, he differentiated himself. South African Rap should be forever grateful for Khuli Chana's ability. He is a certified legend whose influence, music and skill shows no bounds.