This evening’s ARIA Awards saw the Hilltop Hoods take home their well-deserved ninth award, winning the Best Urban Release for their Adrian Eagle-featuring single, ‘Clark Griswold’. While we join them in their celebration, let’s take a brief moment to remember the journey that got them there.

Cast your mind back 15 years ago, and you might remember how the Hilltop Hoods put Australian hip-hop on the map with their third album, The Calling.

Before long, singles like ‘The Nosebleed Section’ were going platinum, and by 2004, the ARIA Awards had recognised this musical shift, introducing the award for Best Urban Album.

As the years went on, the albums kept on coming for the Hilltop Hoods, and so did the chart-topping success. While The Hard Road soon it number one, this proved to be the last album for the band on Obese Records, as they soon left to start their own label; Golden Era Records.

In early 2012 though, Golden Era Records partnered with Island Australia/Universal Music Australia. While hindsight tells us otherwise, chatter at the time was cyclical. Had the Hoods already peaked? And surely after all these years, Australian hip-hop was on the way out, right?

Not a chance.

Mike Taylor of Island Australia (now MD of Universal Music Australia) saw limitless potential for the group, and the Hilltop Hoods reciprocated this vision by entering into a global contract which saw them through the most successful period of their career.

As almost every one of their singles either went Gold or Platinum, it set a major precedence for other Aussie hip-hop artists of the time.

Without the vision of Mike Taylor seeing the band as more than just a triple j act, but actually taking their – at the time – polarising Australian hip-hop sound into the mainstream, would we have seen Australian hip-hop acts like 360 or Illy hitting the top of the charts with their stunning, major-label records?

It’s hard to say, but it’s even harder to imagine the Aussie hip-hop genre otherwise.

The Hilltop Hoods are set to release their eighth studio album, The Great Expanse, on February 22nd.

Check out the Hilltop Hoods’ new single, ‘Leave Me Lonely’:

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