Urthboy is an award-winning hip hop artist from Sydney and three time nominee of the prestigious Australian Music Prize (AMP). He manages the Elefant Traks label and fronts The Herd.
Beginning in the late ‘90s, his first group Explanetary folded after one EP In On The Deal (2001). Urthboy’s first solo album Distant Sense of Random Menace was released in 2004, but it was 2007’s The Signal that kicked things up a notch. The first single ‘We Get Around’ cracked the top 25 in triple j’s Hottest 100 while ‘The Signal’ was hailed as “a classic” by Rolling Stone.
It received two AIR Award nominations; a j Award nomination (Triple J’s Album of the Year award); and it was shortlisted in the prestigious Australian Music Prize (Best Album 2007). Significantly, the album was licensed to Motivo Records (among a select few hip hop records from Australia ever licensed overseas) and released late 2007.
In addition to solo material, Urthboy is one of the main songwriters in The Herd, whose five albums The Herd (2001); An Elefant Never Forgets (2003); The Sun Never Sets (2005/06); Summerland (2008) and Future Shade (2011) have seen them build a huge fanbase in Australia. They’ve sold out national tours, including major metropolitan theatres through to regional venues whilst accepting invitations to every major festival in the country. During this time they’ve won two AIR Awards; a top ten ARIA chart album; ARIA award nominations (Best Urban 2008/2012) and a J Award.
Celebrating the government’s apology to the Stolen Generations in 2008, Urthboy worked with Getup to re-imagine the song ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’, at Paul Kelly’s personal request. The song helped raise over $100,000 for Indigenous run health and education programs.
In 2009 Urthboy released his third solo album, Spitshine, dropped to great acclaim and two hugely successful tours (2009 and 2010) playing to over 20,000 people. Urthboy was shortlisted for the Australian Music Prize, won Best Urban/Hip Hop album at the AIR Awards and received an ARIA nomination.
In 2010 Urthboy embarked on his first European tour, playing some of the biggest hip hop festivals in the world (Splash, Germany and Open-Air Festival, Switzerland) as well as clubs shows in Germany, Denmark and England. Adding to that were shows in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.
2011 saw Urthboy release the critically adored ‘Future Shade‘ album with The Herd, taking in 3 highly successful tours and several festival appearances. Later in the year he was invited to take part in triple j’s Nick Cave tribute: Straight To You. His powerful rendition of ‘Stagger Lee’ brought the house down at sold-out shows across the country, including Sydney’s Enmore Theatre and Melbourne’s Forum.
In 2012 Urthboy reunited with producers Hermitude and Count Bounce to begin work on Smokey’s Haunt, his fourth album. Whilst both Hermitude and Count Bounce have been exclusive producers of all his material to date, this is the first time they co-produced an entire record. The chemistry between all parties was electric, resulting in an invigorated sound and fresh spirit.
Urthboy signed a global publishing deal with the legendary Alberts Music, the first hip hop artist to join their ranks. ‘Naive Bravado‘ was the bold first single from his new record, it featured international soul sensation Daniel Merriweather. It received strong radio support across the country and was named iTunes single of the week racking in more than 30,000 downloads in under 7 days. The accompanying tour saw Urthboy play across the nation in August/September.
His playful second single ‘Knee Length Socks’ quickly soared to most played song on triple j and was quickly added to Nova’s national playlist. The highly anticipated ‘Smokey’s Haunt’ album was released on October 12 to rave reviews. It debuted at #14 on the ARIA Album Chart, #1 in the ARIA Urban Chart and #8 in the ARIA Digital Chart.
It was Triple J Album of the Week, FBi Sunsets Album of the Week and was feature review in Sydney Morning Herald, The West Australian & Drum Media. The Australian gave it 5 stars saying “Absolutely captivating, play on repeat”.
In November Urthboy performed at the Sydney Opera House as part of the Graphic Festival commissioned Dr Seuss Meets Elefant Traks.
Smokey’s Haunt was also nominated for a j award for Australian Album of The Year and Rolling Stone Awards for Best Independent Release and Album of the Year. In early 2013 it was nominated for the Australian Music Prize (AMP), Urthboy’s third consecutive nomination.
He was invited to appear on ABCTV’s top rating Q and A before embarking on the highly successful Smokey’s Tour. Urthboy joined Australia’s premier regional festival tour Groovin The Moo in 2013 and supported Paul Kelly on his extensive Spring & Fall Tour. He released Live At City Recital Hall from the same tour in late 2013.
In 2014 Urthboy developed a new concept show called ‘Make Me A Mixtape‘ integrating story-telling and live performance with special guests. The show premiered to rave reviews at Brisbane Festival in September and was subsequently picked up by Melbourne Festival before making it back to Sydney in early November. Guests included Patience Hodgson (The Grates), Thelma Plum, Sam Cromack (Ball Park Music), Ella Hooper and many more.
Urthboy will continue work on his new solo album in 2015.
What the media are saying about Smokey’s Haunt:
Triple J Feature Album, Drum Media Album of the Week & FBi Sunsets Album of the Week
★★★★★ “Absolutely captivating, play on repeat”
★★★★ “Humanity and toughness permeate Urthboy’s excellent new album” (Review of the week)
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
8/10 “…Meaningful rhymes and impressive beats, Smokey’s Haunt is a winner”
TRIPLE J MAGAZINE
★★★★ “A refreshing and independent voice in Australian hip-hop, Urthboy is certainly leading by example”
THE WEST AUSTRALIAN
★★★★ “Tim Levinson’s knack for storytelling is second-to-none as he weaves powerful tales inspired by real-life events and backed by incredible production courtesy Hermitude and Countbounce…this is Oz hip hop at its best”