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Tim Levinson aka Urthboy.jpg
Background information
Birth nameTim Levinson
Also known asUrthboy
OriginSydney, Australia
GenresHip hop
Years active1998–present
LabelsElefant Traks
Associated actsThe Herd
WebsiteOfficial webpage

Tim Levinson, better known by the stage name Urthboy, is an Australian hip-hop MC and producer from New South Wales. He is widely known for his solo music under the moniker Urthboy, as a founding member of the hip-hop group The Herd, and for co-founding and managing the Elefant Traks record label. Levinson has released five solo albums: Distant Sense of Random Menace (2004), The Signal (2007), Spitshine (2009), Smokey's Haunt (2012) and The Past Beats Inside Me Like a Second Heartbeat (2016); as well as five studio albums with The Herd.

Early life

With origins in Wentworth Falls, a town in the Blue Mountains area of New South Wales, Levinson's interest in music began at an early age, when he was exposed to a broad range of musical styles, many of which were introduced to him by his older brother, Matthew. The Run DMC album Tougher Than Leather was the first influential hip-hop record for Levinson[1]

Music career


In 1998, Levinson co-formed Explanetary in Wentworth Falls with local friends Realistix, Elgusto and Luke Dubs, who played keys and drums respectively, while Levinson delivered the vocals. The band also included Realistix on vocals and production, No Mumbles (a.k.a. Nugs) on vocals, Aja Stuart on bass and DJ Alf.[2] Explanetary released the In on the Deal EP through Elefant Traks in July 2001.[2] The EP was one of the label's first releases, but was the band's only recording before the act disbanded.[1] Despite the end of Explanetary, many subsequent collaborations have occurred, including "Fallen Giants", from 2005's Tales of the Drift.

By the time he completed high school, Levinson relocated to New South Wales' capital city, Sydney. While in his new environment, Levinson proceeded to form the Australian hip-hop band The Herd, alongside eight other artists, while Elgusto and Luke Dubs formed Hermitude and later joined the Elefant Traks label. Levinson also developed his solo hip-hop production and MC work, created under his moniker in the Herd, "Urthboy".[1]

The Herd

Alongside Kenny Sabir, Levinson is one of the key co-founding members of The Herd, an Australian hip hop outfit. Levinson is one of the group's two MCs—the other is Shannon Kennedy, who uses the moniker "Ozi Batla". Unusual for a hip-hop group, the Herd consists of a full live band as well as MCs: in addition to Levinson and Kennedy, Unkle Ho (beats), Sabir/Traksewt (accordion, clarinet and beats), Sulo (beats and guitar), Byron/Toe-Fu (guitar), Dale/Rok Poshtya (bass), and singer Jane Tyrrell complete the line-up. Their songs often feature politically oriented lyrics.[3]

2004-2006: Solo career & Distant Sense of Random Menace

In 2004, Levinson released his first Urthboy solo album, Distant Sense of Random Menace. The album was a success and featured songs such as "Come Around" and "No Rider". Urthboy toured the album nationally with Elgusto as DJ and Ozi Batla as co-MC. The music video for "No Rider", directed by Broken Yellow, won the Sunscreen Music Video Award at the Festival of the Sun Music Festival (FOTSUN) in 2005.[4][5]

2007-2008: The Signal

After the success of his debut album, Urthboy headed into the studio in 2007 to record his sophomore release, The Signal, with Pip Norman/Count Bounce (TZU) and Elgusto (Hermitude). The album was released in July 2007 to much critical praise and cemented Urthboy's place in the growing Australian hip-hop scene.

The first single, "We Get Around", was hailed as "a classic" by Rolling Stone and reached No. 25 on Triple J's Hottest 100 for 2007. The album received two nominations at the AIR Awards of 2007,[6] a nomination at the J Awards of 2007 and was shortlisted in the prestigious Australian Music Prize (Best Album 2007).[7] The album was licensed to Motivo Records, and was released internationally in late 2007. Urthboy toured Malaysia and Japan in 2008 before resuming work with The Herd in Australia.

In 2008, as a part of The GetUp Mob, organised by the advocacy group GetUp!, Levinson released an Urthboy version of "From Little Things Big Things Grow",[8][9] a song originally released by Kev Carmody and Kelly in 1993. Levinson's version featured elements of the apology to the Stolen Generations, made by Kevin Rudd, Australia's Prime Minister at the time, on 13 February 2008, as well as excerpts of the Redfern Speech, made by former Prime Minister Paul Keating on 10 December 1992.[10]

The song featured Levinson, Carmody and Kelly, Tyrrell and Kennedy, Missy Higgins, Mia Dyson, Radical Son, Dan Sultan, and Joel Wenitong. It peaked at number 4 on the ARIA singles chart,[11] number 2 on both the Australian Chart and the Digital Track Chart,[12] and raised almost A$100,000 for Indigenous health and education programs.[citation needed]

2009-2011: Spitshine

In August 2009, Urthboy's released his third solo album, Spitshine. The first single from the album, "Hellsong", was the most downloaded track on Australian radio station Triple J that year.[citation needed] The music video for "Hellsong" was directed by Broken Yellow and consisted of an animation composed of more than 7000 hand-drawn images that were animated in Sydney, Christchurch, London, Hungary and Oslo.[citation needed]

The release of Spitshine was followed by two popular tours in 2009 and 2010, involving crowds of over 20,000 people.[citation needed] Once again, Urthboy was shortlisted for the Australian Music Prize—at the time, he was one of the only artists to ever be nominated twice.[citation needed] In 2010, Urthboy embarked on his first European tour, which included the prominent hip-hop festivals Splash, in Germany, and the Open-Air Festival in Switzerland. The tour also included club shows in Germany with Brother Ali and his first sold-out headline show in London.[citation needed]

Spitshine won the award for Best Independent Hip Hop/Urban Album at the AIR Awards of 2010.[13]

2012-2013: Smokey's Haunt

Levinson's fourth album under the Urthboy moniker, released on the Elefant Traks label, was made available to the public on 12 October 2012. Produced by fellow Australian hip hop colleagues, Count Bounce (TZU) and Hermitude, the album was selected as a "Feature Album" on Triple J.[14] Musical artists Jimblah, Solo and Alex Burnett (Sparkadia) feature as guests on the album: Jimblah and Solo appear on a song entitled "On Your Shoulders" (Jimblah also appears on the song "Glimpses"), and Burnett features on the song "The Big Sleep".[15][16] Smokey's Haunt achieved a number 14 debut position on the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Album Chart.[17]

In late February 2013, a national Australian tour in support of the fourth Urthboy album was confirmed, and a live band, featuring drums and keyboard(s)/piano(s), was also announced.[17] Tyrell was also named as a member of the touring group, while the support acts were identified as Jimblah and One Sixth, the latter an artist from Melbourne, Australia.[18]

In 2013 Urthboy was announced as the national support for Paul Kelly's 'Spring & Fall' Tour—the announcement followed multiple previous collaborations, including Urthboy's 2008 cover of "From Little Things Big Things Grow", and a combined cover of the Hunters and Collectors song "Tears of Joy" in early 2013.[19] Then, in early December 2013, Levinson was announced as the support artist for the late December 2013 Australian tour by the Roots.[20]

2014-present: The Past Beats Inside of Me Like a Second Heartbeat

On 22 July 2014, Levinson posted a video clip in which he announces the "Make Me a Mixtape" concept. Based on the mixtape cassette tapes that were popular during the 1980s, Levinson created a live performance in collaboration with other artists based on the themes that would sometimes guide the creation of mixtapes; for example, a mixtape would be given to a friend who was travelling overseas. The first "Make Me a Mixtape" show is based on the theme of Levinson's first overseas trip to Southeast Asia and will consist rap, remix, song and spoken word.[21] Performances are scheduled for both the Brisbane[22] and Melbourne Festivals,[23] with Patience Hodgson (The Grates), Rival MC (Impossible Odds and Black Arm Band) and Bobby Flynn announced as collaborators for the Brisbane show.[24][25][26]

The Past Beats Inside Of Me Like a Second Heartbeat is Urthboy's 5th studio album, released on 4 March 2016.

Political activism

Australian refugee policy

In response to the 2013 Abbott Government's refugee policy, titled "Operation Sovereign Borders", whereby asylum seekers arriving by boat are turned back by naval officers and an offshore processing centre—built on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea in 2001—was reopened for offshore processing of asylum seekers, Levinson released a protest song in early March 2014.[27] In the week following the completion of the song, a 23-year-old Iranian national, Reza Berati, was killed at the processing centre. Levinson explained to the media:

I’d been writing a song about the extreme mismatch of our navy facing off against asylum seekers in ramshackle boats. The official silence and militaristic language. The paranoid obsession Australia has with asylum seekers. The billions we spend so we can turn our back. Then Manus Island happened and it clarified the purpose of the song, giving us a tragic consequence to a hopeless situation. Somewhere along the way we mangled our perception of success to be measured by how many boats have landed. This is hysteria. So many miles from the myth of the ‘fair go’.[28]

Called "Don't Let It Go", the song was released with an accompanying online music video, directed by Australian filmmaker Dan Ilic, on 6 March 2014. The video uses news footage edited with footage of Levinson rapping with a set of headphones on his head, taking music from the song "Let It Go" by fellow Elefant Traks artist Sietta. Following the release of the material, Levinson stated: "We are talking about quite a popular policy, so a lot of these artists are worried about the bottom line and what their audience are going to think about them. A lot of the time there is this fear of standing up, and I wanted this song to be part of a call to get out there and speak more … We need artists to come out there and break ranks and stop the double speak."[27]


Levinson posted a photograph of himself and daughter Jetta Joanie marching in a Sydney protest against the Gaza bombings of mid-2014 on 3 August 2014. Levinson wrote: "Jetta representing for Palestine in Sydney today".[29]


Studio albums

List of studio albums, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions
Distant Sense of Random Menace -
The Signal
  • Released: 14 July 2007[33]
  • Label: Elefant Traks (ACE032)
  • Format: CD, DD, LP
  • Released: 28 August 2009[34]
  • Label: Elefant Traks (ACE051)
  • Format: CD, DD, LP
Smokey's Haunt
  • Released: 12 October 2012[35]
  • Label: Elefant Traks (ACE077)
  • Format: CD, DD, LP
The Past Beats Inside Me Like a Second Heartbeat
  • Released: 4 March 2016[36]
  • Label: Elefant Traks (ACE138)
  • Format: CD, DD, LP,streaming

Live albums

Title Details
iTunes Live from Sydney
  • Released: February 2010[37]
  • Label: Elefant Traks
  • Format: digital download
Live at the City Recital Hall Angel Place
  • Released: 15 November 2013[38]
  • Label: Elefant Traks (ACE096)
  • Format: CD, digital download

Remix albums

Title Details
Smokey's Homies Remix EP
  • Released: 20 April 2013[39]
  • Label: Elefant Traks
  • Format: digital download

Extended Plays

Title Details
Turning Circle
  • Released: 2 March 2018[40]
  • Label: Elefant Traks (ACE164V)
  • Format: LP, digital download


List of singles, with year released, selected chart positions, and album shown
Title Year Peak chart positions Album
"Come Around" 2004 Distant Sense of Random Menace
"No Rider"
"We Get Around" 2007 The Signal
"From Little Things, Big Things Grow"
(Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody cover, as part of The GetUp Mob)
2008 4 non-album single
"Ready to Go"
(with Nat Dunn)[43]
2009 Spitshine
(featuring Jane Tyrrell)
"Naïve Bravado"[44]
(featuring Daniel Merriweather)
2012 Smokey's Haunt
"Knee Length Socks"
"Someone Else's House"[45]
(featuring Josh Pyke)
2014 non-album single
"Long Loud Hours"
(featuring Bertie Blackman)
2015 95 The Past Beats Inside Me Like a Second Heartbeat
"Nambucca Boy"[46] non-album single
"Second Heartbeat"[47]
(featuring Sampa the Great & Okenyo)
2016 The Past Beats Inside Me Like a Second Heartbeat
"Daughter of the Light"[48]
(featuring Kira Puru)
"The Arrow"[49]
(featuring Timberwolf)
"Roll Up Your Sleeves"[50]
(Meg Mac cover – triple j Like a Version)
2018 Like a Version
"Fever Dream"[51] 2020 non-album single
"The Night Took You"[52] TBA
"Sunrise in My Head"
(featuring i.amsolo)

As featured artist

List of singles as featured artist, showing year released, and album name
Title Year Album
"Any Other Name"
(Horrorshow with Thelma Plum, Jimblah and Urthboy)[53]
2015 non-album single

Guest appearances

  • "Beastly" by Upshot on Upshot (2003)
  • "Alleys to Valleys" by Hermitude on Alleys to Valleys (2003)
  • "About to Break" by Upshot on Make It Happen (2004)
  • "Outlander" by Chasm on Chasm (2004)
  • "Shoot from the Hip" by Unkle Ho on Roads to Roma (2005)
  • "Fallen Giants" by Hermitude on Tales of the Drift (2005)
  • "The Wash" by Jase on Beat Hedz Volume 1 (2006)
  • "Goin on Tour" by Muph & Plutonic on Silence the Sirens (2006)
  • "Done the Sums" by Astronomy Class on Exit Strategy (2006)
  • "No Matter What Man" by Chasm on Beyond The Beat Tape (2008)
  • "Commercial Radio" by The Last Kinection on Nutches (2008)
  • "Your Call" by Hermitude on Threads (2008)
  • "Dead Em" by Mantra on Speaking Volumes (2011)
  • "Doctor's Orders" by Horrorshow on King Amongst Many (2013)

Awards and nominations

AIR Awards

The Australian Independent Record Awards (commonly known informally as AIR Awards) is an annual awards night to recognise, promote and celebrate the success of Australia's Independent Music sector.

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2007[54][55] Urthboy Most Oustsanding New Independent Artist Nominated
The Signal Best Independent Dance/Electronic Album Nominated
2010[55] Spitshine Best Independent Hip Hop/Urban Album Won
2013[56] Smokey's Haunt Best Independent Hip Hop/Urban Album Nominated

ARIA Music Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result Lost to
2010 Spitshine Best Urban Album Nominated M-Phazes - Good Gracious
2013 Smokey's Haunt Best Urban Album Nominated Illy - Bring It Back
2016 The Past Beats Inside Me Like A Second Heartbeat Best Urban Album Nominated Drapht - Seven Mirrors

Australian Music Prize

The Australian Music Prize (the AMP) is an annual award of $30,000 given to an Australian band or solo artist in recognition of the merit of an album released during the year of award. The commenced in 2005.

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2007 The Signal Australian Music Prize Nominated
2009 Spitshine Australian Music Prize Nominated
2012 Smokey's Haunt Australian Music Prize Nominated

J Award

The J Awards are an annual series of Australian music awards that were established by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's youth-focused radio station Triple J. They commenced in 2005.

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2007 The Signal Australian Album of the Year Nominated


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  12. ^ "Song of Reconciliation debuts at No. 4". 28 April 2008. Retrieved 20 August 2008.
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External links

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