Ozi Batla is one of Australia’s best known emcees, fronting both The Herd and Astronomy Class. He is best known for penning anthemic tunes such as “77%”, “Starship Troopers” and “A Bright Tomorrow”, sharing credits on “We Can’t Hear You”, “Only 19” and the early Australian hip hop breakthrough “Scallops” in 2003.
Renowned for his often politically charged lyrics, he also been involved outside music, through direct activism, fundraising and conducting hip hop workshops for disadvantaged youths in the outback and inner cities. Far from a one-dimensional emcee, his vocal range is as evident live as on record. He is comfortable working in a variety of styles, from straight hip hop in his work with Chasm, melodic with The Herd, on a reggae tip with Astronomy Class, or, occasionally still, in a drum n bass style.
In 1996, Ozi Batla teamed up DJ ALF, and hosted the Joined at the Bass nights at the Cricketer’s Arms in Surry Hills. From there, he and ALF went on form the band Trace Element with current Herd bassist Rok Poshtya. They played a multitude of gigs, including the unforgettable Reclaim the Streets parties of the late 90s. In 2000, Ozi and ALF were part of the DnB weekly Sonic Fiction, which lasted 36 consecutive weeks. Frigid, the legendary sunday-nighter, was also host to many of Batla’s shows.
In 2001, The Herd began to evolve out of the fledgling independent label Elefant Traks, with which Ozi has been recording artist since it’s inception in 1998. Live shows began to reveal the raw elements of the group’s debut release. 2002 saw Ozi earn his “battler” tag, completing in a swag of MC battles and taking a number of titles, including Verbal Mechanics NSW champ, NSW Stealth Battle champ, semi-finalist in Melbourne’s Revolver MC Battle, placing in the Battle for Supremacy invitational and was a grand finalist in the National Stealth Battle.
No stranger to controversy, the songs “77%”, “Burn Down the Parliament” and “Starship Troopers” have evoked strong responses, and often national debate. It has also led to a number of songs placing in Triple J’s Hottest 100 with “77%”, “Unpredictable”, “We Can’t Hear You” and the Herd’s cover of “Only 19 (Walk in the Light Green)”.
Currently Ozi is working on his upcoming debut solo album titled ‘Wild Colonial’. Here is a quick snippet of what Ozi had to say about his progress with the album:
Yep, I’m working with Sydney producer Sandro – ex-Good Buddha, he has worked with Def Wish Cast, 13th Son, Celcius, Trey, the list goes on. Sandro – Classic hip hop done proper.
We’re pretty deep into it, probably need another 4 or 5 songs but it’s coming together well. Will put up some demos when we’ve got some decent ones recorded.
Stay tuned for more on this!