Music of Namibia
The music of Namibia has a number of folk styles, as well as pop, rock, reggae, jazz, house and hip hop. The Sanlam-NBC Music Awards and the Namibian Music Awards are two separate institutions that give out annual awards at shows on December 2 and May 6 respectively . The Namibia Society of Composers and Authors of Music (NASCAM) has helped promote Namibian music within and outside the country, but despite this, the Namibian music industry remains undeveloped, with no major record labels or distribution infrastructure. A lack of focus to produce economically viable Namibian music products and the absence of effective marketing and distribution structures are two of the factors inherently hampering the development of the local music industry.
Traditional Namibian dance occurs at events such as weddings and at Traditional Festivals, such as the Caprivi Arts Festival. Folk music accompanies storytelling or dancing. The Namaqu use various strings, flutes and drums while the Bantu use xylophones, gourds and horn trumpets.
- The Herero people's oviritje is popularly known as konsert. Otjiherero is the primary language of Oviritje music. Oviritje was made popular by Kareke Henguva as a pioneer of Modern Oviritje Music,when he together with the likes of Kakazona Kavari,Meisie Henguva and Oomzulu Pietersen introduced the keyboard element as prior to the introduction of the keyboard Oviritje Music was just performed with vocals only.Prior to Kareke coming into the picture people like Matuarari Kaakunga and BELLA KAZONGOMINJA must be remembered for their contribution to the Oviritje genre.Today in recognition of his contribution to the Oviritje Music KAREKE HENGUVA has been accorded the title of DR.of Modern oviritje music.Other groups that took over from DR.Kareke Henguva and made this music popular are (The Wild Dogs) from the Okakarara area with their hit song "Kaondeka" (A praise song about the Waterberg Mountains): other artists include Okazera from the Omaheke Region, the first group to include a San-speaking member, Bullet ya Kaoko, based in Opuwo in the Kunene Region, Tuponda, Katja, Millenium, Kareke and the United Kingdom-based oviritje queen Kakazona ua Kavari.
- Ma/gaisa, the popular dance music genre commonly known as Damara Punch, has produced household names like Stanley, Phura and Raphel & Pele (Marurus di /Gereseb), all with Welwitchia Music Production, Swakopmund, Axue and Om Backos. The genre was derived from Damara traditional music and is mainly sung in Khoekhoegowab or Nama/Damara. Castro, an Oshiwambo native speaker, is one of the few non-Damara singers to experiment with it.
- Shambo, the traditional dance music of the Oshiwambo-speaking people, derives its name from "Shambo Shakambode" - "music". In the late nineties Yoba Valombola blended existing Oshiwambo music widely popularised by folk guitarist Kwela, Kangwe Keenyala, Boetie Simon, Lexington and Meme Nanghili na Shima. Later Setson and the Mighty Dread Band combined these and other Namibian styles and this was the birth of Shambo shakambode music. Yoba based Shambo on a dominant guitar, a rhythm guitar, percussion and a heavy "talking" bassline. Themes range from love to war and history. Young Namibian musicians contributed sampled tracks backed by a blend of house music and Kwaito. Prominent shambo musicians include Tunakie, Tate Kwela and D-Naff, also a gospel musician. Kwiku mixes shambo with Kwassa kwassa. The genre was made popular by Tate Buti and his sister Janice with Faizel MC on the song "Kwiku". It is listened to by most Namibians including Basters and Coloureds. In 2005 it was recognized by the Namibia Society of Composers and Authors of Music (NASCAM) as one of Namibia's folk music genres. The annual Sanlam-NBC Music Awards also included it as one of their awarding genres in 2005. Other kwiku artists include trio PDK, Olavi, Killa B, Castro, Faizel MC, Tunakie, and the late YT de Wet.
- Hikwa or hip hop/kwaito is genre established by Sunny Boy. According to Sunny Boy, hikwa is a combination of hip hop and kwaito. The lyrical artist established the genre through his album Young, Black en Gifted to accommodate his rhythmical rapping with slow tempo kwaito beats. Most kwaito songs are characterized by singing, chant, rhythmic-screaming, repetitive verses and chorus, and occasional rapping. Sunny Boy's songs structures are identified by a chorus and separate verses, similar to hip hop. Beats have a slower tempo than kwaito but faster than hip hop. Other artists who use a similar style include Tre VDK and OmPuff, from Sunny Boy's former label, Mshasho, Chipolopoolo, Qonja, Mappz, and Exit & Mushe. Hikwa also has award category both at the Namibian Music Awards and Sanlam Music Awards.
Afrikaans music is also popular in Namibia. Afrikaans music primarily influenced by European folk music. In Namibia it is more popular among the white communities. Stefan Ludik is the most successful Afrikaans musician.
Popular styles of music in Namibia include hip hop, R&B, Soul, reggae, afro-pop, house and kwaito. Upon Namibia's independence Jackson Kaujeua and Ras Sheehama had been the most outstanding Namibian performers. Kaujeua had been performing since the 1970s in exile, he perform a mixed of Namibia's traditional genres mixed with afro-pop/gospel sounds. Sheehama perform reggae, in footsteps of reggae late legends Bob Marley and Lucky Dube. Sheehama has performed in Jamaica, Cuba, UK, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. Other early Namibian musician includes a Damara group called People Choice, who was popular between 1996 and 1998, a kwaito trio called Matongo Family, Boli Mootseng, X-Plode with members (Jaicee James, Lizell Swarts & Christi Nomath Warner ), oshiwambo indigenous rapper Shikololo and R&B turn-producer Big Ben. Big Ben has eventually become the most respected artist through his Afro_pop and Fusion with his live shows. In fact he is one of the very few that performs all his shows with a live band while many still performs with backing tracks. Namibian stars such as Stefan Ludik, The Dogg, Gazza, Gal Level, EES, Fyzel MC, Lady May, Sunny Boy and Big Ben have become continental celebrities.
The Namibian reggae platform has produced artist such as Ras Sheehama, Petu, Ngatu, who has been performing since 1994, Mighty Dreeds and EES, a Namibian German based multi genre performer. In the early eighties a band called We Culture was formed in Katututra and this turned to be Namibia's first reggae band. Another band followed called Roots rebels also based in the Katutura location. The Namibian independence came and most of the Namibian population that was in exile came back to Namibian and bands like Young Dreads later renamed as Mighty Dreads, Ras Sheehama, Los Amadeus, Omidi d Afrique, Shem Yetu, Organised Crime and 40Thieves. Most of this bands faded or became one and a group of young Namibian reggae musicians came up later. Most of the Mighty Dread band members left and formed Formular band or engage into solo careers. DancehalL, Ragga and Dub was gaining popularity and singers like Ngatu(from the Mighty Dread), Doren, Iron Roots, Ras Kasera came up with a new blend of Ragga Dancehall. EES is also respected in the R&B, hip hop and kwaito genres of Namibia. Buju Bantuan aka Katjoko (not to be confused with Jamaica's Buju Banton), the late La Chox and Kamasutra are one of the youngest reggae artist, Faizel Mc the king of the jungle, being a part of the kwiku style, most of his love is based on this category Afrobeat. Prominent kwaito artist Gazza has also associated himself with the genre, he has made quite a good reggae songs as well as Killa-B. It's also believed that he is multi genre talented, like EES, he also experiments with hip hop, dancehall and R&B.
Rock n Roll
Rock n roll is widely celebrated by the white communities of Namibia. Die Vögel is one of Namibia's most outstanding rock n roll bands. The band had success with the German-speaking Namibians during the 1970s. Stefan Ludik was Namibia's first Big Brother Africa participant. He participated in Big Brother Africa 1. Today he is a successful rock n roll and pop musician and actor. His music is more popular among the Namibian and South African white communities. G3 a duo of two young Namibians gained success with their hit single "Olupandu" in 2005. One of the country's most durable rock bands is Bedrock (The Band In The Sand). Formed in 1994 in Oranjemund, the band has released four albums of original material over the years: Recovery (2001), So, Where's The Party? (2003), Simplicity (2008) and Desert Rock (2010). They describe their sound as Desert Rock, an eclectic mix of styles from 70's rock, blues, pop and folk. A feature of their compositions is the subtle thread of humour which underpins most of their work. The opening song of their debut album, Rock 'n' Roll, was voted by the South African Rock Digest as one of the Top 30 South African songs of 2003. It was also their first song to gain radio play. Despite numerous personnel changes over the years the band continues to thrive, playing regular gigs in and around Oranjemund. Another Rock/Pop musician is Menrose Harakuta who in the early 90's got a professional recording contract from California Recording Studios for his song"Chocolate Girl and went on to release "My Source 2003", "Obama Heaven Smile"2009 and went on to win the Best Alternative Rock Award.
Township Disco / Bubblegum
Is better known as Bubblegum Mapantshula Afro pop that's the rhythm who brings the legends like late Brenda Fassie and the Big Dudes,Chicco Twala,Dan Nkosi,Ebony, Richard Makhubale of Volcano,Dan Tsahnda of Splash,Yvonne Chaka Chaka,Alec OmKhali of Umoja. Gabkoz also is better known for such type of music in Namibia but there are like's of Specco,Scorpion,Ocean Girls,Mr. Tjiuti, Raindrops, Sonic Witness,The Couples,Right Choice,Manelo, and People Choice band.Don't forget Erick Mahua, Rirua Murangi and Chicco of Chiccolela Production who have contributed much in these genre to produce many up and coming artists like Skilpad who got much interest in syth sound of the original tune of township keyboards instrument.
Hip hop music and culture has a big influence on the Namibian youth, with influence from American slain rappers Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G., and others like Nas, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Eminem. Most of the urban Namibian youth has adopted a hip hop lifestyle; this includes their dressing code. Early Namibian hip hop acts includes a group called Dungeon Family, which was composed of the newly recreated group The Kalaharians and the popular girl duo Gal Level. Shikololo, Fidel O'del, Pablo, Dore, Kanibal, Catty Catt, Lalu, OmPuff, Zero Degrees, the now defunct Walvis Bay based Desert Eagles who spawned artist's such as LYRIC aka The NomadPoet, Mark aka WestCoast Finest, Swakop City MC's the Naughty Crew and Krazie-D of Otjiwarongo were also among the first hip hop performers. Popular and most successful hip hop artists include Katutura native Jericho, Kanibal, Snazzy,BK (Brooklyn & Kimorah) (Rapper and Singer), Rizzy, A-51, a group of native Angolans, and D-Jay, who has lived most of his life between Walvis Bay and Chicago, United States. Other rappers in the spotlight include Tesh, Saint, G-Ride, Krespo, Lil' D, KK, Dante, and Black Vulcanite. Some artists rap in their indigenous languages including, Oshiwambo, Damara-Nama, and Afrikaans. The Namibian hip hop industry has been in competition with the kwaito industry. Though hip hop is popular among the youth, most of them are more interested in international hip hop, especially that from the USA. For this reason the kwaito industry has more support and is growing faster.
R&B, pop, afro-pop
R&B has been popular in Namibia since the 1990s. Namibian R&B singers have influenced the genre with afro-pop. Most of them perform a mixture of pop/afro-pop and R&B. Afro-pop is the African style of wester-pop. The Namibian R&B/pop genre has produced continental celebrated duo Gal Level and solo singers African Boy, Christi Nomath Warner (who uses her poetry as basis for her lyrics) & Lady May. Te Quila, Jewelz and are one of the most promising R&B/pop singers of Namibia. Male artist such as Rodger and Nasti are also popular they all show influence from Ne-Yo, Mario, and Chris Brown. Jossy Joss and Big Ben are one of the earliest singers of Namibia. Big Ben has been the most consistent with this genre since his first release in 2001.
The kwaito genre is the most popular and successful music genre in Namibia. It's believed to be the biggest industry in Namibia's music and the only that is heavily supported by the youth. This is so because of socio-economic issues, as many artists enter the music industry with hopes of strengthening self-employment and making a living out of it. Namibian kwaito has been strengthened and directly influenced by the South African kwaito style. However, over the years Namibia introduced a different type of kwaito, which makes it slightly different from the South African tradition. The difference lies in production; Namibian producers focus their production on party oriented music. Pioneers of the Namibian kwaito include Matongo Family of Katutura. The trio was the first to embark on the Namibian stage with kwaito, they've been famous since 1998, and were the only established kwaito musicians until 2002. Other early kwaito performers include Pablo and Guti Fruit. The Dogg, Legg-Ghetto, and Gazza are also considered as one of the earliest and pioneers of the Namibian kwaito genre. The Dogg and Gazza helped change and shape the genre to what it is today. Soon after their arrival in the Namibian music industry, the focus on international artists declined. For this reason the two are not only acknowledged for their contribution to the kwaito genre but to the Namibian music at large. Other remarkable figures include Sunny Boy, EES, Qonja, Bone Chuck, Uno Boy, and Dollar 6 who entered the industry following The Dogg and Gazza. The genre has grown big and it contains more artists than any other genre in Namibia. Other popular kwaito artist include Tre Van Die Kasie, OmPuff, Chipolopolo, Zanele, OmZoo, T-Kop7, PDK, and Max. The Dogg's debut album, Shimaliw' Osatana is considered the blueprint of Namibia's kwaito, due to the fact that it became the first kwaito album released in Namibia by an Namibian artist. Other albums that helped shape the Namibian kwaito genre include, Zula II Survive (Gazza), Take Out Yo Gun (Dogg), Koek n Jam (Qonja), and Y. B. G. (Sunny Boy). A large number of kwaito musicians remains underground due to lack of promotion and support.
House music is the African form of rave music, African house is based on African traditional melodies. The African house genre has been popularized in South African. It is characterized by a fast moving beat with thin melodies and synthesizers. Sometimes it is accompanied by vocals. DJ Kboz is one of Namibia first house DJ's. He mix and master songs by other artist. He has released an album titled Strickly Street House, Volume 1 in 2007. DJ Kboz is also a producer having worked with almost every established artist. DJ Khalu & DJ Ex are also one of the few house DJ's in Namibia. DJ Khalu released two albums Vision 2030, Vol. 1 in 2007 and Vision 2030, Vol. 2 in 2008. DJ Ex (also a producer), released his debut Gate Crush, Volume 1 in 2008. Pierre Pienaar also produces House music under the aliases "Melodia" and "Deep Sequence" which has been released on international labels like the UK based "Big In Ibiza" and Nukleuz, as well as appearing on compilation albums like "Booom 8 mixed by Paul Almeida" on Just Music and "Essential Hit Picks 3" by 5FM and Supersport DJ and presenter, Sasha Martinengo.
Since the late 1990s some artists perform heavy metal in Namibia, among those the Arcana XXII, subMission, Delusion Of Grandeur. In 2007 the first Namibian festival took place with bands like CfD (USA), subMission (Namibia), Wrust (Botswana), Neblina (Angola), Delusion Of Grandeur (Namibia), followed by two other editions in 2008 and 2009 including artists like Lady Axe (South Africa), Juggernaught (South Africa), Azrail (South Africa), etc.
In the late nineties an ex Mighty Dread singer (Yoba Valombola, known as Benga), bassist and guitarist came back from Germany with a big influence and eager in change and started an independent label called Big Rat Communication. This was fuelled by the idea of producing Namibia's first electronic music ranging from, Trip hop, Drum and bass, Dubstep and drumstep. Due to the unpopularity of electronic music in Namibia, Yoba released his music only in Europe and America under the name Benga. Most of the electronic music Benga release is based on his early experiments of Reggae, Shambo, blues and rock. Yoba went back to the west and returned again after six years to Namibia to influence other Namibians. Some existing experimental artists like Thomas Swarts, Dtubsen and Joas tried forming a group and due to time and obligations, nothing worked out. Yoba is still based in Germany as an electronic artist and performing with other Namibian artists in Europe: widely as Canada and South America.
Some Namibian record labels include:
- Nam Dubstep Productions
- M Record
- Jamaica Entertainment
- Omulilo Production
- Oupyu Production
- BACKDOORS production
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