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The Herd

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Biography

The Herd were a major part of the wave of hip-hop acts that emerged from the Australian underground in 2001 and gained national airplay and crossover success. They later solidified their position, and that of the genre, as more than just a novelty act by making cutting political statements in their music and nurturing a stable of quality acts on their label. The original lineup of the Herd consisted of three eclectically named MCs — Urthboy, Ozi Batla, and Berzerkatron — as well as a full band comprising Unkle Ho on beats; Sulo on beats and guitar; Traksewt on piano, accordion, clarinet, and beats; Toe Fu on guitar; and Rok Poshtya on bass. The members had initially founded their label, Elefant Traks, to record an original mix-tape for a friend's going-away present, but found it useful as an outlet for music that existing independent labels wouldn't release. They came together to demonstrate Traksewt's DASE software, which allowed musicians separated by the tyranny of distance to jam together in real-time over the Internet. Under the name Dase Team 5000, they showcased the program at the Australian Computer Music Conference in 2000.

After recording separately, the DASE experience exhibited their ability to successfully coordinate themselves as a group, and a planned compilation of songs they were working on as individuals turned into a proper album. The Herd, a name previously used for Traksewt and Unkle Ho's contribution to the Freaky Loops 2 compilation, became the new name for both the group and their album. Released in 2001, The Herd was recorded on weekend and holiday escapes from Sydney at a lakeside house on the Central Coast. Its first single, "Scallops," a simple ode to the joy of fish and chips, was unexpectedly successful with national youth broadcaster JJJ. The popularity of "Scallops" was both a blessing and a curse, as it pigeonholed the group as novelty party rappers. They released their second album, An Elefant Never Forgets, in 2003, shortly before Australian troops were deployed in Iraq. The unexpectedly political album fit the times perfectly, as the Australian government's controversial handling of incidents like the Tampa Affair (covered in the song "77%") had already created heated discussion. Songs like "Burn Down the Parliament" proved controversial and were discussed in newspapers and on radio, which helped to increase the band's profile. The Herd's mix of feel-good vibes and political rage led them to became one of the dominating voices of Australian hip-hop at the time.

In 2005, the Herd released their third album, The Sun Never Sets. Recorded in a studio in Sydney, the album featured guest vocals from British MC Braintax and Australian singer Jane Tyrrell, who would tour with them after its release. A cover of folk-rock band Redgum's Vietnam War protest song "I Was Only 19" was added to the album's re-release, and also to Trampled: The Elefant Traks Remix Album after achieving surprising popularity on radio. Berzerkatron left the band to move to Canberra in 2006 and Jane Tyrrell was added as a full-time bandmember, and the Herd resurfaced in June 2008 with Summerland.

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Formed:

2001

Genre
Years Active:

'00s

Contemporaries