The group in 2012
|Origin||Adelaide, South Australia, Australia|
|Genres||Australian Hip Hop|
|Labels||Obese, Golden Era|
|Associated acts||Certified Wise Crew, Funkoars, Briggs, Vents, Sia Furler, One Above, Horrorshow|
|Past members||DJ Next, MC Summit|
Hilltop Hoods are an Australian hip hop group, which formed in 1991 in Adelaide, South Australia. The group's founders are Suffa (Matt Lambert) and MC Pressure (Daniel Smith), who were joined by DJ Debris (Barry Francis) after fellow founder, DJ Next (Ben Hare), had left in 1999. The group released its first extended play, Back Once Again, in 1997 and have subsequently released six studio albums, three DVDs and a "restrung" version of the 2006 album, The Hard Road. Three of their albums have peaked at number one on the ARIA Albums Charts: The Hard Road, State of the Art (2009) and Drinking from the Sun (2012). Two tracks have reached the top 10 on the related ARIA Singles Chart, "Chase That Feeling" (2009) and "I Love It" featuring Sia (2011).
Hilltop Hoods have toured both in Australia and overseas, including playing at music festivals: T in the Park, Oxegen, the Big Day Out, Clipsal 500, Southbound, The Great Escape, Splendour in the Grass, Bassinthegrass, Groovin' The Moo, Falls Festival, Pyramid Rock Festival, Rollercoaster, Come Together Festival and Make Poverty History. At the ARIA Music Awards of 2006 they won 'Best Independent Release' and 'Best Urban Album' for The Hard Road. In 2007 they won 'Best Urban Album' for their remix album, The Hard Road: Restrung (2007). They won the same category in 2009 for State of the Art and in 2012 for Drinking from the Sun. In 2009 Debris also won 'Engineer of the Year' for his work on State of the Art.
- 1 History
- 2 Touring
- 3 Awards and recognition
- 4 Other projects
- 5 Personal lives
- 6 Members
- 7 Discography
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Formation and early years (1987–2001)
Two of Hilltop Hoods' founders first met in 1987 when MC Suffa (aka Matthew David Lambert) and MC Pressure (Daniel Howe Smith) attended Blackwood High School in Eden Hills – a suburb of Adelaide. In 1991 they joined up with DJ Next (Ben John Hare) through a mutual friend and formed an Australian hip hop group. Their name was supplied by fellow local MC Flak (from Cross Bred Mongrels) – the suburb of Blackwood is known by locals as the Hilltop. The band's influences include American hip hop artists: Notorious B.I.G., KRS-One, Gang Starr, Wu-Tang Clan and Public Enemy.
At live shows Next was the group's DJ, for recording he contributed audio engineering and all the scratches on their early works. He regularly competed in the local Disco Mix Club (DMC) tournaments, winning South Australian DMC champion multiple times. Hilltop Hoods recorded a demo, Highlanderz, which was released on cassette tape only. As well as Pressure and Suffa on vocals, the group included MC Summit aka DJ Sum-1, but he did not appear on later Hilltop Hoods work.
The group's first official release, in 1997, was a vinyl-only, seven-track extended play, Back Once Again. Production was handled by DJ Debris (Barry John M Francis), scratches by Next, vocals by Pressure and Suffa. The third track, "Shades of Grey", features Debris with a verse, and was co-written by Francis, Hare, Lambert and Smith. Fifth track, "Mankind Must Suffa" also features a guest verse from Quromystix (aka Quro, Andrew Michael Bradley) – a member of Finger Lickin' Good and later the Fuglemen. "Mankind Must Suffa" is credited to Lambert, Smith, Francis and Bradley. Back Once Again is out of print and unavailable for retail purchase.
The group's debut studio album, A Matter of Time, was released in 1999 on CD only. As with Back Once Again, it is now unavailable for retail purchase. All scratches are performed by Next, a track, "Let Me Show You", has no vocals – solely showcasing his turntable skills. American MC Bukue One (Tion Torrence) appears for a guest verse on "Deaf Can Hear". The track is credited to Lambert, Smith, Francis, Hare and Torrence. The album was released independently but with financial assistance from Arts SA – the band were inspired, in 2005, to set up their own Hilltop Hoods Initiative, to help local artists. After the album appeared, Next left the group and moved to Melbourne. By 2005 Next had established a mixtape website, as of December 2012 he has been a freelance web developer for 13 years and was based in Adelaide. In 1999 Debris, who was also a member of the Cross Bred Mongrels, replaced Next and became the Hilltop Hoods' full-time DJ.
Hilltop Hoods founded the Certified Wise Crew – a hip hop collaborative – with local groups Terra Firma, Cross Bred Mongrels and After Hours. Certified Wise Crew has since expanded to include MCs Trauma, Blockade, Kolaps, Flea, with Vents and Funkoars joining in later years. Hilltop Hoods received two nominations for the Hip Hop Act of the Year Award at the Australian Dance Music Awards and again at the 3D World Music Awards in 2001 and 2002. In 2001 the group's second album, Left Foot, Right Foot, was released with Lambert, Francis and M. Veraquth producing.
The Calling to The Hard Road (2003–07)
On 22 September 2003 Hilltop Hoods released their commercial breakthrough, The Calling. Their third album entered the ARIA Albums Chart in March 2004 and reached No. 53 before exiting the top 100 in September that year. By December 2006 it was certified platinum for shipment of 75,000 units, becoming the first Australian hip hop album to achieve platinum status. In March 2012, it re-entered the chart and peaked at No. 50 – eight-and-a-half years after its first release. It featured two singles, "The Nosebleed Section" and "Dumb Enough", which were listed in the Triple J Hottest 100, 2003. "The Nosebleed Section" was ranked No. 17 in the Triple J Hottest 100 of All Time in 2009. Hilltop Hoods' chart and commercial success was a turning point in the Australian Hip Hop scene because it demonstrated widespread support for the genre that reached beyond an underground fan base.
On 1 April 2006 the group followed with their fourth album, The Hard Road, which peaked at number one. It was the first Australian hip hop album to do so. It was certified gold within a week of being released. Its lead single, "Clown Prince", reached the top 30 on the related ARIA Singles Chart. It featured guest verses from New York rapper, Omni, and British MCs, Mystro and Braintax. The Hilltop Hoods received the inaugural Australian Independent Record (AIR) Award for Independent Artist of the Year and Best Performing Independent Album for The Hard Road in 2006. The track, "The Blue Blooded", is a collaboration with Australian MCs: Funkoars, Hau from Koolism, Mortar, Vents, Drapht, Muph & Plutonic, Pegz and Robby Balboa. On 27 April of the same year, Hilltop Hoods performed at the Bass in the Grass music festival in Darwin alongside fellow hip hop group, The Herd. That same day they issued a second single, the title track from the album. Its music video includes fellow members from the Certified Wise Crew – Cross Bred Mongrels, Terrafirma and Funkoars.
Following the success of The Hard Road Tour in early 2006, the Hilltop Hoods began their second national tour for the year, The Stopping All Stations Tour, which visited more regional areas of Australia as well as the capital cities. They were supported by Koolism and Mystro. Late that year, Hilltop Hoods released their third single from the album, "What a Great Night". The video shows the group at a club with camera shots panning up and down to reveal a new location. It used special effects and is one of the most expensive video clips for an Australian hip hop group, mirroring the group's rise in success and popularity. Also late in the year the band won the J Award for best album of the year from Triple J. They performed the Homebake Festival and Falls Festival before the end of the year. The Hard Road received the AIR Award for Best Independent Hip Hop/Urban Release in 2007.
The Hard Road Restrung to State of the Art (2007–09)
On 12 May 2007, Hilltop Hoods released their next album The Hard Road: Restrung which is a remix of their previous studio album, The Hard Road, featuring the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and Okwerdz. It peaked at No. 8 on the ARIA Albums Chart. Like its predecessor The Hard Road, it took out "Best Urban Release" at the ARIA Awards of 2007, with the group going back-to-back in the category. The lead single from the album "Recapturing the Vibe Restrung", its video clip was on high rotation on rage & jtv. That year the group performed at the Southbound Festival (WA), The Great Escape at Newington Armory over Easter, and embarked on a UK tour with a Sydney-based string quartet. They finished the year by headlining the Pyramid Rock Festival on Victoria's Phillip Island over New Year's Eve 2007. In 2008 they performed at the Big Day Out festivals, at Glastonbury Festival and Islington Academy in London. In December their DVD, The City of Light, was released and was nominated as 'Best Music DVD' at the 2008 ARIA Awards.
Hilltop Hoods left their longtime home of Obese Records to start their own label, Golden Era Records, to release their future material. In November 2008 Pressure announced on Triple J's breakfast program that the next studio album, State of the Art, would be recorded with session musicians: "We realised with this one after doing Restrung and having an orchestra that we were a bit less limited. So we're going to have some session musos come in on this one and stuff like that". The album was released on 12 June, with the lead single, "Chase That Feeling", issued as a digital download on 8 May, and featured a return guest appearance by a quartet from the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. The album debuted at number one on the albums chart while "Chase That Feeling" peaked at No. 8 on the related singles chart. By 2010 State of the Art was certified 2× platinum for shipment of 140,000 units.
In early 2009 the Hilltop Hoods performed at the Groovin the Moo festival in Townsville, Maitland and Bendigo. They also performed at Triple J's One Night Stand in Sale, Victoria on 30 May, and at Fat as Butter festival in Newcastle on 25 October where they played several of the tracks from the album. To promote its release the band started a national tour starting on 18 July and performed at most major cities including state capitals. The second national tour that year followed on 11 November with support provided by Vents.
Drinking from the Sun to Walking Under Stars (2010–present)
On 28 July 2010, Hilltop Hoods completed work on a "zombie flick", Parade of the Dead, which they wrote, filmed and starred in. Titled for a track from State of the Art, it was released 22 October, along with the eponymous single. Filmed mostly in Adelaide, the former Adelaide Gaol was used as a "key location".
In late November 2011 the band premiered the single, "I Love It", on the Triple J breakfast show.; it features Sia, and peaked at No. 6 on the ARIA chart. It is the lead single from their sixth album, Drinking from the Sun, which followed on 9 March 2012. During December 2011 they supported Eminem and Lil Wayne during Eminem's Australian leg of his tour. In January 2012 the group "leaked" a song from the album, after generating interest via their Facebook page: "Let's have some fun. If we get 5000 likes on this post we're going to leak a track off Drinking from the Sun". They received 7,500 plus likes in only 10 minutes, they were surprised "Wow. Give me a minute." and six minutes later posted a link to a new track, "Rattling the Keys to the Kingdom", on YouTube. Drinking from the Sun became their third number-one album in Australia and also charted on the New Zealand Albums Chart top 40. In mid-April 2012 they issued a music video, "Speaking in Tongues", for the second single.
On 10 May 2012, Hilltop Hoods issued a new EP, The Good Life in the Sun, to celebrate the launch of the Speaking in Tongues Tour, which includes tracks from Drinking From the Sun remixed by Suffa. The post contained a link to their website where the EP can be downloaded for free. In the following July, they released a video for the third single, "Shredding the Balloon". In late September, they issued a music video for "Rattling the Keys to the Kingdom". It featured Australian hip-hop artists and DJs, Drapht and Urthboy. In August 2012, Triple J uploaded video footage of the group's tribute to the Beastie Boys' member, Adam "MCA" Yauch, who had died in May. The group selected "So What'cha Want", from Beastie Boys' album, Check Your Head.
In November 2012, Hilltop Hoods performed a live show on UStream and announced that the title of the group's next album will be Walking Under Stars; this was then confirmed on the official Hilltop Hoods Twitter and Facebook pages, following their "Best Urban Album" win at the 2012 ARIA Awards ceremony. The band's Facebook post read:
So it’s now one year to the day since we dropped ‘I Love It’ and started the ‘Drinking from the Sun’ journey. Thanks to everyone that’s supported us over the last 12 months, it’s been amazing. We hope you join us late next year for ‘Walking Under Stars’.
Thankyou,Suffa, Pressure & Debris
The announcement corresponds with a sample on Drinking From The Sun that refers to a band writing with the clear intention of formulating enough material for two albums: "They were recording enough for two albums; that was premeditated." The sample appears on the track, "The Thirst Pt. 3 (Interlude)".
In April 2013, the Hilltop Hoods stated that the development of Walking Under Stars was “well underway”, with the trio calling the album Drinking from the Sun "part two"—the latter received a double platinum sales certification in the same month. Additionally, American clothing company Zoo York announced a partnership with the Hilltop Hoods in April 2013, in preparation for the brand's 20th anniversary celebrations in 2014. Lambert explained: “We’ve always been fans of Zoo York, they understand hip hop culture, and that’s why we can’t wait to work with them.”
By September 2013, a release date for Walking Under Stars was not announced and a minor indication of the album's status was included in an Australian media article on the sale of band member Daniel Smith (Pressure)'s Adelaide home in the Flagstaff Hill area. The September article simply stated that Smith was "currently writing" for the album and, as of April 2014, further news has not been published.
Hilltop Hoods have toured both in Australia and overseas, including playing at music festivals: T in the Park, Oxegen, the Big Day Out, Adelaide 500, Southbound, The Great Escape, Splendour in the Grass, Bassinthegrass, Groovin' The Moo, Falls Festival, Pyramid Rock Festival, Rollercoaster, Come Together Festival and Make Poverty History.
On 8 December 2012, the Hilltop Hoods were one of two headlines acts (the other was American band, Blondie) for the 2012 "Global Edition" of the popular Australian music, film, comedy and arts festival, Homebake.
A North American "Drinking From The Sun" tour was announced in late February 2013 and the band revealed that it would perform in American cities such as Seattle (the tour's debut location), New York and San Francisco, and the Canadian cities, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary and Toronto; the tour was scheduled to end in Los Angeles on 9 May 2013. However, on 23 February 2013, the hip hop group announced the indefinite postponement of the entire tour due to a "serious family matter". The Hilltop Hoods are also one of the bands on the "Concerts" roster for the V8 Clipsal 500 Adelaide car racing event, held between 28 February 2013 and 3 March 2013—other Australian hip hop artists, such as Drapht and Vents, are also performing at the event.
Awards and recognition
Hilltop Hoods received nominations for the 'Best Hip Hop Act' in 2001 and 2002 at the 3D World Dance Music Awards, they won the Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA) Award for 'Best Up-coming Group' as well as receiving number-one positions in independent charts all around Australia. The 2003 release The Calling achieved platinum certification from ARIA. Two tracks, "The Nosebleed Section" and "Dumb Enough", were listed in the Triple J Hottest 100, 2003, at ninth and 44th, respectively. Their lead single from The Hard Road, "Clown Prince" was released in February 2006, and became their first top 40 hit on the ARIA Singles Chart. In 2006 the group won the J Award.
On Australia Day, 2007, the Hoods claimed five spots in Triple J's Hottest 100 with "The Hard Road" reaching third place. "Clown Prince", "What a Great Night", "Stopping All Stations", and "Recapturing the Vibe" placed 23rd, 41st, 56th, and 77th respectively. The Hilltop Hoods received the most entries in the Hottest 100 that year, and were only one track off equalling the record, set by Wolfmother the previous year. In 2009 "The Nosebleed Section" was voted number 17 in the Triple J Hottest 100 of all time, the highest placed Australian song.
For the APRA Awards of 2010, the Hilltop Hoods won the 'Urban Work of the Year' award for "Still Standing", which was written by Francis, Lambert, Smith and Henry Lawes. The band received three nominations in the 2013 APRA Awards: 'Most Played Australian Work' for "I Love It", and two nominations in the 'Urban Work of the Year' category for "I Love It" and "Speaking In Tongues".
In 2006 Hilltop Hoods were nominated for five ARIA Awards – the first ever for an Australian hip hop group – winning in two categories: 'Best Urban Release' and 'Best Independent Release'. The following year they won 'Best Urban Release' at the ARIA Awards for The Hard Road: Restrung. The album was also nominated for 'Best Independent Release' and 'Best Cover Art' by John Engelhardt. The DVD City of Light was nominated as 'Best Music DVD' at the 2008 ARIA awards. At the 2009 ARIA Awards they won 'Best Urban Album' for a third time – for State of the Art and DJ Debris won an award for 'Engineer of the Year' for his work on that album. At the ARIA Music Awards of 2012, Hilltop Hoods won its fourth award in the 'Best Urban Album' category for Drinking from the Sun; as of November 2012, the group has won six awards from twenty nominations.
At the 2012 ARIA Awards, established Aboriginal Australian band, Yothu Yindu, was inducted into the Hall of Fame. A photograph of Suffa holding the award in the presence of the band was posted on the Hilltop Hoods' Instagram profile, accompanied by the following comment: "A memory I'll take to the grave. Meeting Yothu Yindi and having them let me hold their Hall of Fame ARIA. What a beautiful induction."
|The Hard Road||Best Independent Release||Won|
|Best Urban Album||Won|
|Breakthrough Artist – Album||Nominated|
|"Clown Prince"||Breakthrough Artist – Single||Nominated|
|The Calling Live||Best Music DVD||Nominated|
|The Hard Road: Restrung||Best Independent Release||Nominated|
|Best Urban Album||Won|
|The Hard Road: Restrung – John Engelhardt||Best Cover Art||Nominated|
|The City of Light||Best Music DVD||Nominated|
|State of the Art||Highest Selling Album||Nominated|
|Best Urban Album||Won|
|"Chase That Feeling"||Single of the Year||Nominated|
|State of the Art – Suffa||Producer of the Year||Nominated|
|State of the Art – DJ Debris||Engineer of the Year||Won|
|Drinking from the Sun||Best Group||Nominated|
|Best Urban Album||Won|
|"I Love It" (featuring Sia)||Song of the Year||Nominated|
|"I Love It" (featuring Sia) – Animal Logic||Best Video||Nominated|
|Hilltop Hoods||Best Australian Live Act||Nominated|
Following its departure from the Obese record label, the group launched its own label in 2009, entitled Golden Era Records. The label's title is described by the band on the label website:
To some people the golden era of Hip Hop was ’94. Ask someone a little older and they’ll tell you Hip Hop’s renaissance was back in ’88. Ask one of our revered pioneers and they’ll tell you that the golden era came and went three decades ago, before most of today’s Hip Hop heads were born. Whatever the case these so-called golden eras weren’t only defined by the music or the fashion - they were characterised by something less tangible - an atmosphere, a movement.
This label wasn’t established to release throw-back records; instead we hope to make music that throws you back to the way you felt during the golden era of Hip Hop.Whatever year that was for you.
The label is based in Stirling, South Australia and, as of December 2012, its roster consists of the Hilltop Hoods, Briggs, Funkoars, Vents, Adfu, and, most recently, K21.
In January 2012, Fontana, an independent marketing, sales and distribution company under the Universal Music Group umbrella, signed an exclusive agreement with Golden Era Records for the American release of Drinking From The Sun, as well as back catalogue titles.
Hilltop Hoods Remix Shoe
The Hilltop Hoods and DC Shoes made a limited-edition shoe together called 'The Hilltop Hoods Remix Shoe'. It was released in stores on 1 February 2008. They are the first Australian music group to have their own shoe.
Hilltop Hoods Initiative
In 2005 the annual 'Hilltop Hoods Initiative' was established in association with Arts SA, made possible by a donation from the Hilltop Hoods. Valued at $10,000 (originally $3000), the Hilltop Hoods initiative helped young and emerging South Australian hip hop artists to manufacture and distribute a CD. The initiative also included two mentorship sessions with Hilltop Hoods' former manager, PJ Murton. It acknowledges the important role South Australian government assistance played in the development of the careers of the Hilltop Hoods. In 2009, the initiative became a national grant available to entry for any emerging Australian hip hop artist who have not issued a professional album.
In a Hilltop Hoods newsletter, released on 4 December 2012, the group communicated the following announcement:
In 2013 The Hilltop Hoods and APRA are teaming up again to give a career changing $10K to the most impressive emerging Hip Hop/Soul act in Australia. Aimed at helping fund the manufacturing and marketing of an album release, the grant is open to any act who hasn't yet released anything professionally. Applications will open in early 2013 along with details on how to enter.
Past recipients are: General Knowledge, a three-piece group (2006), Subsketch, a solo artist (2007), Jimblah, a solo artist (2008), K21, a solo artist (2009), 1/6 (from Melbourne), a solo artist (2010), Koolta, a solo artist (2011), Run for Your Life, a musical collective (2012). On 28 March 2013, Gold Coast, Queensland artist Chelsea Jane was announced as the 2013 Initiative recipient.
In September 2013, during the sale period for Smith's Flagstaff Hill house, a news article revealed that he lived at the property for seven years with his chiropractor partner, Dr Rebekah Talbot, their sons Liam, 9, and Solomon, 1, and their labrador Arabel. Talbot explained that they purchased the home to be near the area where Smith grew up: "Dan [Smith] grew up in Belair and bought in Flagstaff Hill because he wanted to stay in the hills because he loves them. It's such an integral part of our lives and for Dan to be inspired he needs to be around nature." At the time of the sale, Smith had already purchased his next home in the suburb of Belair.
- MC Suffa (Matthew David Lambert) – rapping, engineering, mixing, producing (1991–current)
- MC Pressure (Daniel Howe Smith) – rapping (1991–current)
- DJ Next (Ben John Hare) – engineering, turntablism, scratching (1991–1999)
- MC Summit aka DJ Sum-1 – rapping (ca. 1996)
- DJ Debris (Barry John M Francis) – producing, engineering, turntablism (1999–current)
|Year||Album details||Peak chart positions||Certifications
|1999||A Matter of Time
|2001||Left Foot, Right Foot
|2006||The Hard Road
|2009||State of the Art
|2012||Drinking from the Sun
|2014||Walking Under Stars
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
|Year||Album details||Peak chart positions||Certifications
|2007||The Hard Road: Restrung
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
- Back Once Again – Independent (1997)
- Chase That Feeling – Golden Era Records (2009)
- Still Standing – Golden Era Records (2009)
- The Light You Burned – Golden Era Records (2009)
- The Good Life in the Sun – Golden Era Records (2012)
|Year||Song||Peak chart positions||Certifications
|2003||"Testimonial Year"||—||—||The Calling|
|"The Nosebleed Section"||85||—||
|2006||"Clown Prince"||30||—||The Hard Road|
|"The Hard Road"||—||—|
|"What a Great Night"||—||—|
|2009||"Chase That Feeling"||8||—||
||State of the Art|
|"The Light You Burned" (featuring Trials)||62||—|
|2011||"I Love It" (featuring Sia)||6||13||
||Drinking from the Sun|
|2012||"Speaking in Tongues" (featuring Chali 2na)||88||—|
|"Shredding the Balloon"||—||—|
|"Rattling the Keys to the Kingdom"||64||—|
|"—" denotes releases that did not receive certification.|
Aside from their own releases, Hilltop Hoods have featured on compilation albums by Various Artists, including Obesecity and Culture of Kings Vol. 1 & 2. They have collaborated with fellow Australian hip hop musicians including Koolism, Mass MC, Crossbred Mongrels, Pegz, Muph, Funkoars, Headlock, MC Layla, Hyjak, Funkwig & deNorthwode, Drapht, and DJ Bonez. On the CunninLynguists' 2009 album, Strange Journey Volume One, the track, "Nothing But Strangeness", features Looptroop Rockers and Hilltop Hoods. In 2011 and 2012 their label, Golden Era Records, released two mixtapes Golden Era Mixtape 2011 and Golden Era Mixtape 2012, Hilltop Hoods appeared on both, other artists included Golden Era members Funkoars and Briggs.
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|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Hilltop Hoods|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hilltop Hoods.|
- Official website
- Parade of the Dead trailer archived from the original on 9 September 2010, retrieved 7 December 2012.
- Hilltop Hoods performing at Big Day Out, Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne, 28 January 2008 [picture] by Martin Philbey at National Library of Australia