The music of Namibia includes 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.
The Namibian music industry remains under-developed, 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.
The country's biggest online music retailer, DONLU offers streaming services. They also boast being the only online music store in Africa that allows for purchases of music to be done and being paid for by various mobile money wallets across Africa in Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia. Payments can be done with MTN Money, Vodacom Money, Airtel and Tigo Pesa for the fans living in those African countries. Fans living in the rest of the world, can pay using PayPal, PayToday as well as credit/debit card.
Traditional Namibian dances occur at events such as weddings and at traditional festivals such as the Caprivi Arts Festival. Folk music accompanies storytelling or dancing. The Nama people use various strings, flutes and drums while the Bantu use xylophones, gourds and horn trumpets.
Many female singers are entering the Ma/gaisa world yearly.The genre was derived from Damara traditional music and is mainly sung in Khoekhoegowab.
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, he performed a mix of Namibia's traditional genres with afro-pop/gospel sounds. Sheehama performs 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 musicians includes a Setswana band called People's Choice, that was popular between 1996 and 1998 for their hit single "Don't Look Back (Siwelewele)", 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 back tracks. Namibian stars such as Stefan Ludik, The Dogg, Gazza, Gal Level, EES, Lady May, Sunny Boy and Big Ben have become continental celebrities as well as Placa Gang a group of hard working dream chasers.
The Namibian reggae platform has produced artist such as Ras Sheehama, Petu, Ngatu, who has been performing since 1994, Mighty Dreeds and EES. In the early eighties a band called We Culture was formed in Katutura 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 these 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 and Ten-Dreadz 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 a.k.a. Katjoko (not to be confused with Jamaica's Buju Banton), the late La Chox and Kamasutra are one of the youngest reggae artist. Prominent kwaito artist Gazza has also associated himself with the genre as well as Killa-B
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 in the show's first season. 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 1970s 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.
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 as well as Specco, Scorpion, Ocean Girls, Mr. Tjiuti, Raindrops, Sonic Witness, The Couples, Right Choice, Manelo, and People Choice band, 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 have influenced Namibian youth, especially the American acts Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Eminem.
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. Other acts include Nakuni Heitah, Gurd Grillthe Katutura native Jericho, OmPuff, Black Vulcanite and Mc Ray.
Namibian hip-hop can compete with kwaito for popularity.
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, Sally Boss Madam, Christi Nomath Warner (who uses her poetry as basis for her lyrics) & Lady May. Te Quila, Jewelz and Sally Boss Madam 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.
Namibian kwaito artists include The Dogg, Gazza, Sunny Boy, Qonja, Tre Van Die Kasie, and OmPuff. The Dogg's debut album, Shimaliw' Osatana , was the first kwaito album released in Namibia by a Namibian artist.
House music is played at raves in Africa, especially South Africa. African house is based on African traditional melodies. It is characterized by a fast moving beat with thin melodies and synthesizers. Sometimes it is accompanied by vocals.
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).
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.
Notable Namibian record labels include:
Hip hop music has been popular in Africa since the early 1980s due to widespread African American influence. In 1985 hip hop reached Senegal, a French-speaking country in West Africa. Some of the first Senegalese rappers were M.C. Lida, M.C. Solaar, and Positive Black Soul.
Kwaito is a music genre that emerged in Johannesburg, South Africa, during the 1990s. It is a variant of house music featuring the use of African sounds and samples. Typically at a slower tempo range than other styles of house music, Kwaito often contains catchy melodic and percussive loop samples, deep bass lines, and vocals. Despite its similarities to hip hop music, Kwaito has a distinctive manner in which the lyrics are sung, rapped and shouted.
The music of Ivory Coast includes music genres of many ethnic communities, often characterised by vocal polyphony especially among the Baoulé, talking drums especially among the Nzema people and by the characteristic polyrhythms found in rhythm in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Botswana is an African country made up of different ethnic groups, although the Batswana are the majority of the population. Music is a large part of Botswana culture, and includes popular and folk forms. Botswana church choirs are common nationwide.
Celtic fusion is any modern music which incorporates influences considered "Celtic", or Celtic music which incorporates modern music. It is a syncretic musical tradition which borrows freely from the perceived "Celtic" musical traditions of all the Celtic nations, as well as from all styles of popular music, it is thus sometimes associated with the Pan-Celtic movement. Celtic fusion may or may not include authentic traditional music from any one tradition under the Celtic umbrella, but its common characteristic is the inspiration by Celtic identity.
Martin Morocky, known by his stage name as The Dogg or , is a Namibian musician. Considered a kwaito artist, his debut album, Shimaliw' Osatana, was released in 2004 to mixed reviews. The Dogg was part of the group Omalaeti O'Swapo, which released one album in 2004. His music is enjoyed internationally, in countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Dogg has performed in France, England and Canada. He has received awards and nominations from Channel O. He is one of the highest awarded artist in his country, as well as one of the highest selling.
Mshasho Productions, also referred to as Mshasho Music Productions and Mshasho Records, is a Namibian Independent record label founded by Namibian musician and producer, Martin "The Dogg" Morocky in 2003. The company is a subsidiary of The Dogg's company Mshasho closed cooperation. The name Mshasho is derived from its original name Omushasho which is the Oshiwambo name for a shotgun. The label has shaped careers for artists such as Sunny Boy, OmPuff, Tre Van Die Kasie, TeQuila, Karlos Lokos, Chipolopolo, Richie and Kamasutra. The label has so far released ten albums, making it one of the leading record labels in the country.
Sunday Shipushu, known as Sunny Boy is a Namibian rapper from Ongwediva. He performs a brand of music known as hikwa, which he engineered by fusing hip hop and Kwaito. He rose to fame after collaborating with Gazza on his song "Koko" in 2004. He increased his buzz with his hit single "Balance" in 2005 when he signed with Mshasho Productions.
Lazarus Shiimi, known by his stage name Gazza, is a Namibian musician.
You Can't Ignore is the fourth album by The Dogg that was released on 5 October 2007 by Mshasho and KOOL Productions. The album was to be titled Mshasho: You Can't Ignore and was later changed prior to its release date. The album features the first collaboration between The Dogg and his music mentor Elvo. It also features the first collaboration between The Dogg and Qonja. This album is more mature and very different from his previous albums. It features a dark tone similar to his first release, Shimaliw' Osatana. The entire album is self-produced with DJ Kboz co-producing two songs. As of 2008, the album is the highest and fastest selling kwaito album in Namibia.
Trompies are a South African music group who specialise in a type of pop music known as kwaito. The members of the group grew up together in a Soweto township and agreed to form a band after they had all completed their music studies in college. Beginning to make music in the mid 1990s, they have since sold over half a million records and have become very successful in producing and managing other artists as well through their record label Kalawa Jazmee.
Elai Lineendunge is the second album by Namibian rapper Sunny Boy, and the first to be released on his own label GreenHouse Entertainment. It was released in December 2006. The album features a much darker sound and much deeper subject matter than, Young, Black en Gifted. It moved away from the mainstreme original type of kwaito, used on Young, Black en Gifted and albums done by Gazza and The Dogg, to a hip hop type of kwaito that Sunny describe as hikwa. This style has become influential and has seen Gazza, Qonja, Chipolopolo, Exit & Mushe and many other new Namibian kwaito artist experimenting with it.
Channel O Africa Music Video Awards, once known as Spirit of Africa Music Video Awards, are Pan-African music awards organised by South Africa -based Channel O television channel. The awards were first held in 2003 under the name Reel Music Video Awards. Since 2005 the awards have been held annually. The winners are voted by Channel O's viewers across the continent.
Naftalie Shigwedha Amukwelele commonly known as D-Naff, is a Namibian multiple award-winning and top selling rapper /singer, actor and a former street gangster. D-Naff sings inspirational Gospel / religious music in the style of kwaito, hip hop, kizomba, dancehall and afro-pop. D-Naff is also a motivational and inspirational speaker and has visited more than 30 schools in Namibia including the University of Namibia, Windhoek College of Education, Ongwediva College of Education and the Polytechnic of Namibia now known as NUST.
Belmiro Hosi better known by his stage name as OmPuff is an Angolan–Namibian kwaito and hip hop musician who rose to widespread fame in 2005. He is one of the liveliest performers on the Namibian local scene. OmPuff signed to Mshasho Productions in 2006. He nicknamed himself Puffy after childhood hero Puff Daddy,. After doing more and more kwaito Puffy eventually became OmPuff, making it sound more African. OmPuff speaks fluent Oshiwambo, Afrikaans, Portuguese, and English.
Jericho Jerome Gawanab well known as Jericho and nicknamed J-Twizzle, is a Namibian rapper from Katutura, Windhoek. He is one of the most successful MC's in Namibia. First ever Male artist to win the Artist of the year at the first ever MTC/NBC Namibian Music Awards (2011).
The Namibian Annual Music Awards, (NAMAS), are an annual award ceremony run by MTC Namibia and the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation. The awards exist to recognize accomplishment in the Namibian recording industry by celebrating those groups and individuals who have excelled in the past year. The awards were introduced to replace the Sanlam-NBC Music Awards, which were run by Sanlam Namibia and the Namibian Broadcasting Corporations.