Ever since she first announced that she had a new gospel single titled ‘Jehovah’ on the way, Kelly Khumalo’s fans have been eagerly anticipating the release which features an interesting twist in the form of a rap verse from media personality and rapper, Jesse ‘Flo Afta J’ Suntele.
In a sit-down interview with ZAlebs, Khumalo explained that ever since she first saw Jesse competing in a talent competition that she was judging back in 2013, she knew she wanted to work with him. The competition she was referring to was the SABC 1 reality competition U Can Do It where she was a judge alongside Arthur Mafokate.
“When I first heard Jesse… I was like ‘yoh!’, I’m not a hip-hop person but I have this thing about talent, I can spot talent anywhere and I have always wanted him to break into the music industry,” explained Khumalo.
She said that even when she conceptualized the song, she had always had him in mind. A fact that the song’s producer, David Mutanda, can attest to. “I actually gave you some names and you were like ‘no, I know who I’m going to call for this and you will be surprised’ and I said ‘oh, really? well let’s wait…,”said David, to Kelly.
David shared how he gave Kelly a long list of rappers who could possibly feature on the song and how she declined them all, stating that none of them felt like the right fit.
“I said to them [the music execs], I want a gospel song but with a touch of hip-hop in it and they freaked out…” began Kelly. “…Also because our hip-hop artists don’t do that so it’s difficult to imagine who could be the perfect fit” added Jesse.
Although the song has been months in the making, Khumalo believes whole-heartedly in timing and feels as though this is the perfect time to release the song as she is done with her album so it will not be a long wait in between songs for her fans.
“So it’s just going to be ‘every three months = new music from Kelly'”
With my upcoming project, it’s a very soulful album. This is the only gospel song I have. And in the entire album, I have a touch of soft rock, a touch of Afro Soul and a touch of Afro pop – because, you know, it all depends on who I’m working with…”
Khumalo revealed that in addition to Jesse, fans can expect to hear the likes of Brenda Mtambo, Vusi Nova and a number of other acts that she promises make the album ‘full of soul.’
Speaking about his reaction to being tapped for the song, Jesse recalls feeling genuine shock at the idea that Kelly specifically wanted his verse on her song.
“We’ve had the idea of working together before.. I think, just at the time, maybe it wasn’t the right time. I knew that if Kelly ever said ‘let’s work’ that I would always say yes, and it was evident that she also saw something in me.
Jesse recalls that at the time he got the call, he was listening to a lot of Chance The Rapper so he also feels as though that helped put him in the right mindset.
“This is music that I love listening to but I don’t know if this music that I could write to”
Both artists feel as though the fact that this project poured out of them in a matter of hours is testament to the fact that the collaboration was meant to happen