Lazarus Shiimi, known by his stage name Gazza, is one of the most commercially successful and best selling recording artists in Namibia. Gazza was born on 10 March 1977 in Oshakati (North of Namibia) in a family of seven. At that time, he had to live in a shack behind someone's house after his father died. Despite those modest beginnings, he has always pursued the goals he had set for his life. Gazza has always loved challenges. As a soccer lover, he nicknamed himself Gazza after famous English soccer player Paul Gascoigne.
Since the entrance into the Namibian music scene, Gazza has worked his way up to become the most commercially successful artist in Namibia. He has also become a firm favourite in Namibian households with the young and old alike and has embarked on tours that have expose him to the rest of Africa and the world. He has been well accepted and is a firm favourite with Channel O, a DStv channel, where his work and life is regularly showcased.
His music can be defined as a mix of several influences namely Kwaito, Dancehall, Reggae, Hip Hop and his lyrics are about the township life. His sharp lyrics reflect the intricacies of Namibian life and strike a familiar chord with Namibians from all walks of life, young and old.
To date, he has released 10 albums, all of which have contributed to making Gazza the best selling recording artist of all time in Namibia. Gazza recently released his 10th album titled Ondjila – Long Journey which was launched at The Hage Geingob stadium on 11 October 2014.
Besides being a lyricist and performer, Gazza takes his influence to another level, and amongst others, serves as the Goodwill Ambassador of Education sanctioned by the Ministry of Education as well as an Ambassador for Team Namibia as well as the Back To School Campaign (at the office of the Prime Minister). Gazza believes that education is the backbone that leads to success and makes everyone's dreams come true.
Karandu was born and raised in Othika a small town near Oshakati.From his childhood, Gazza was really interested in music. His passion led him to form a band at primary school. He was fascinated by Kwaito, because in his eyes it represented the Ghetto and talked about the suffering which he could identify with. He attended "Etosha High School" in Tsumeb, where his interest in music was amplified through his involvement in several choirs and his fascination with kwaito. After completing his high school he went to study marketing at Boston College in Cape Town, South Africa where he advanced his love for Kwaito music.
Music career background
In 2002,he came back to Namibia, armed with distinctions and a diploma. He started working in the bank as a clerk, then for an advertiseing agency. Then he jumped ship again and worked for Minolta, an international Company. At that time, thanks to his laptop, he began to download software and create his own beats; "My kitchen became a studio. At that time I didn't go out, I had no social life I only made music." – Gazza. He has then decided to go to London and see what he could achieve there. He recorded 4 Tracks while being there; " I worked one week so that I could pay the studio the following week.”
After months of hard work and recording, Gazza' s debut CD released at the beginning of 2004 with the hit song 'Tanauka' meaning 'turn' could be heard blasting everywhere in the country and instantly made him a household name in all corners of Namibia. He has defiantly made a 'turn' from the corporate world to his passion, music. This was the beginning of it all. In 2004 the Sanlam NBC music awards awarded another hit song from the album Tanauka 'SHIDOLODOLO' from the album for best collaboration of the year.
2004: Zula to Survive
At the end of 2004, after the establishment of his record label Gazza Music Productions (GMP records), Gazza released his second album which was a big success as it sold out in a few weeks of being launched and has been a chart-topping album. The album gave him the status of Namibia's leading artist and made him very commercially successful in the country. The title 'Zula to survive' is slang for 'hustling to survive' which described the challenges in his life growing up as well as the struggles of transitioning from a stable job into the Namibian music industry which was relatively young but in which he helped commercialise. In 2005 the Sanlam NBC music awards awarded 'KOKO' for best Kwaito.
2005: Stof-Lap Chikapute
The album Stof lap Chikapute showed the growth in Gazzas music with several collaborations with other African artists which is the meaning of the album title. The album title meant that although he was a successful artist in his country, on the international platform he was still a minor on the international music scene. In collaboration with the Franco Namibian Cultural Centre, Gazza toured seven African countries (8 performances) with this album, making him the first Namibian artist to receive exposure of that kind. He toured Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda in a period of a month. He also went on a township tour in collaboration with Tafel Lager covering Windhoek, Ongwediva, Oranjemund, Keetmanshoop, Okahandja, Walvis Bay, Tsumeb, Grootfontein, Katima Mulilo, Rundu and Gobabis. The album also saw him receive a total of 10 musical awards in one year. Six / 6 Sanlam NBC Music Awards and 3 Namibia music awards and a best performance award by the city of Windhoek in 2006, making it the most awards received by a Namibian artist in one year
2007: 467/GMP Till I Die
In 2007 Gazza released 467/GMP Till I Die as Namibia's first double album. The album features the hit song "International" and the award winning song "Mokasie". This album seems to have been an answer to his cry for recognition outside of Namibia. The album saw him win a Channel O African Music Award for Best Kwaito for his hit song "Mokasie" in 2008. The album was launched three times due to demand, in Oshakati, Walvis Bay and Windhoek. The album was the first double CD made in the country and was constantly sold out.
2008:Still The King
The CD release show of Gazza's fifth studio album Still The King was held in Gazzas home town, Oshakati, on August 2008; where more than 3000 fans witnessed the beginning of a successful CD. The album featured South African artist such as Zola, DJ Cleo and Brown Dash who also attended the cd launch. "Still the King" saw Gazza receive another award Channel O African video music award for his song "Passop" featuring DJ Cleo for best Kwaito in 2009. The album proved that indeed he was still the king of Kwaito. . He got his biggest endorsement to date as the Ambassador of Tafel Lager, which saw him receive a million Namibian Dollars for a contractual sponsorship endorsement.
2009: Cosa Nostra: Lafamilia
Gazza's sixth Album Cosa Nostra: Lafamilia was released in December 2009 on New Year's Eve. The event was well attended as fans came from all corners of the country to witness the highly anticipated album. International guest performers included South African kwaito legend Mandoza who also features on one of the hit song "Penduka" and Dama do Bling a popular artist from Mozambique. The sale of the album was a record within the borders of Namibia while hitting continental and international markets.This album went on to win three awards at the Namibian Annual Music Awards (NAMAs) with "Shukusha" a hit song from the album winning 'Best Music Video of the year 2011'.
in 2011 Gazza released a hit single titled "Seelima". the six tract disc sold out immediately after release and the song together with the video received overwhelming airplay and topped the local charts. Seelima was released as a single album. The single was a crossover between the youth and older generation. The single fell in the genre of shebeen music and saw an increase in fans from the older age groups as his biggest fan base was the youth. The album was a huge jukebox success as every shebeen had a copy.
Later in 2011 Gazza released a hit Album titled "Boss" which sold more than a 1000 CD’s in less than 30 minutes of arrival from manufactures as anticipation for the album was quite extreme among the Gazza fans.This album features top hits songs like 'Gazzat' in which he features South African sensation Elvovo, 'Sabotage', 'Natu Nukeni', 'Olyeushi' as well as the mesmerising 'Seelima', which has generated heat waves as a single before the album launch. Boss album was awarded three times at the NAMAS in 2013, best house, best music video and best collaboration. This album saw him get a car endorsement by KIA MOTORS, he was thereafter the face of KIA MOTORS for two years.
2013: Blood,Sweat and Tears
In February 2013 Gazza released yet another competitive Album entitled, Blood Sweat and Tears' which sold more than 4000 copies at the CD release on 10 February 2013, where more than 2000 fans had come to see the performance. It was a double album that only featured Namibian artists and was one of the best albums released yet regarding sales and publicity.In this album he is taking his fans back in time, but at the same time the 20 track double album keeps up with the times. 'The album has a different vibe, it has an old school sound to it but also embraces the new high tempo House/Kwaito trend happening in music today.' The album also features traditional Kwaito, Hip Hop and, as with his previous seven albums. Featuring hit songs such as 'Kwateni Om'nona', 'Tufike Apa' and 'No Money', this the Blood Sweat and Tears album would later see him win two awards for 'Best Music Video' and 'Artist Of the Year' in the NAMAs 2014.
2015: Ondjila (Long journey)
This Album features International Stars Such as Uhuru,Kalawajazmee,Martinus howoseb,Bucks and many more.
Gazza African Tour
Thanks to the assistance of the Namibian Cultural Center, Gazza toured seven countries in 2006, making him one of the first Namibian artists to gain that kind of exposure. The tour itinerary included countries like; Swaziland, Mozambique, Malawi, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda.
Tafel Lager Township Tour
Following a very successful African tour, Gazza embarked upon another challenging task. He teamed up with the Tafel Lager brand, and set out on 11 town nationwide Tour, to all corners of the country in the months of September and October.
The year 2006 ended with a bang for Gazza. He became the first artist in Namibia to receive six coveted awards in one evening at the prestigious annual Sanlam NBC Music Awards 2006. Undoubtedly the award of the evening was Artist of the Year. He further scooped 3 awards at the Namibia Music awards NAMAS, which makes a total of 9 awards in 2006.
As Goodwill Ambassador of the Ministry of Education, Gazza visited 50 Schools in the Oshana, Otjizondjupa, Otjikoto, Erongo and Khomas Region to motivate and encourage the learners to take their education seriously. He was later named the national youth ambassador by the Namibian National Youth Services Commission.
Gazza was awarded in that year for the best Kwaito Music Video at the Channel O Spirit of Africa Music Awards held in Johannesburg. This category was regarded to many as the toughest because he was competing against South Africa's best and came out tops with the likes of Zola, Kabelo, Thebe and L’vovo Derrango. JCI Namibia also honoured him with the most outstanding young Namibian Award shortly after his return from South Africa.
Gazza performed at the HIFA music festival in Zimbabwe for the second time due to popular demand
Tafel Lager Road Show
Due to the success of the Tafel Lager Road Show (then called township tour) Gazza performed again in various towns in Namibia in the name of the Namibian beer brand.
Gazza performed in Germany Berlin by invitation for the second time.
Gazza received a JCC award as an outstanding young Namibian by the chamber of commerce.
Gazza toured the United States and Canada, performing in Canada and shooting his reality TV show aired on NBC called ‘Just whiling’ in New York and Los Angeles as well as a music video called ‘Wambo in New York’. Making the first Namibian artist to shoot a video and reality show in America.
Boss album sales
More than a 3000 CD’s were sold in 30minutes.
The album made him receive a car endorsement by KIA MOTORS, so I was the face of KIA MOTORS for two years.
Gazza's hit song 'Tufike Apa' music video was the first Namibian video to play on Trace, a music channel that airs on DSTV.
Gazza made a break through in 2013 by being the first Namibian artist to have a reality show on the Namibian Broadcasting Channel NBC, named "Just Whyling".
The Boss album was awarded three times at the NAMAs in 2013, best house, best music video and best collaboration with Cho Cho, L'vovo, Bah, Big Nuz and Shota
Gazza's 'Tufike Apa' music video was the first Namibian video to play on Trace, a music channel that airs on DSTV.
The album Blood Sweat and Tears praised Gazza with two awards at the Namibian Music Awards (NAMAS). One of the awards granted to Gazza was one of the most renowned awards which is "male artist of the year", where as the second award was for Best Video for the song " Kwateni Omnona".
Having launched his latest hit album entitled “Ondjila – Long Journey” at a major album launch concert in Namibia alongside Nigeria's award winning Davido,Gazza is currently working on promotion for this album, where he has made songs featuring Uhuru and DJ Buckz from South Africa.
Gazza is also known for his high business acumen. Gazza owns a well established record label, GMP and a clothing line. 2009 saw him launching a range of nine different flavoured sparkling mineral water branded "G-fresh".