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Russel Gorillaz: The Journey of the Hip-Hop Hardman

Russel Hobbs, the official drummer and percussionist of Gorillaz, has had a remarkable journey filled with trials, tribulations, and triumphs. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Russel’s life took a dramatic turn after being possessed by a demon, leading to a coma and the subsequent inhabitation of his body by the spirits of his deceased friends. This article delves into the phases of Russel’s life as a member of Gorillaz, exploring his experiences, challenges, and contributions to the band.

Russel’s Background and Early Life

Russel Hobbs was born in Brooklyn, New York on June 3, 1975. He attended the Xavier School For Young Achievers but faced expulsion after an incident where he was possessed by a demon, leading to an attack on fellow students. This event resulted in a four-year coma for Russel, during which the demon was exorcised from his body. Upon awakening, Russel discovered the presence of his friends’ spirits within him, notably his best friend Del the Ghost Rapper. This possession permanently turned Russel’s eyes milky white, marking a significant change in his life.


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Phase 1: 1998-2001

Russel’s entry into the world of Gorillaz marked the beginning of a transformative journey. As a ‘hip-hop hard man’ from Brooklyn, Russel brought a unique dynamic to the band, drawing upon the spirits residing within him to infuse his beats with an otherworldly essence. His solid credentials and musical prowess made him an indispensable member of Gorillaz during this phase.

Phase 2: 2005-2008

The El Mañana incident and the subsequent disappearance of Noodle led to a period of uncertainty for the band. Russel, along with 2-D, faced challenges and life-altering events during this phase, contributing to the band’s evolution and resilience in the face of adversity.

Phase 3: 2010-2012

Russel’s journey took a mysterious turn as he embarked on a solo venture, diving into the Pacific Ocean and consuming radioactive fish, resulting in a significant increase in his body mass. His reunion with Noodle and the band’s experiences during this phase added layers to Russel’s character, showcasing his resilience and adaptability.

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Phase 4: 2016-2017

Russel’s encounters with pirates and his experiences in North Korea highlighted the unpredictable nature of his journey. His resilience in the face of adversity and his pivotal role in reuniting with the band underscored his unwavering commitment to Gorillaz.

Phase 5: 2018-2019

Russel’s podcast venture and his evolving role within the band showcased his adaptability and growth. His experiences and interactions with collaborators added depth to his character, reflecting his multifaceted persona within the Gorillaz universe.

Phase 6: 2019-2021

Russel’s involvement in the band’s projects and his pivotal role in the events surrounding the Forever Cult highlighted his intellectual depth and unwavering dedication to the band’s endeavors. His experiences in the California desert added a new dimension to his character, showcasing his introspective nature.

Phase 7: 2022-Present

Russel’s ongoing journey with Gorillaz has seen him embrace new challenges and responsibilities, including his role as a high elder in the Forever Cult. His evolving beliefs and experiences have added layers to his character, reflecting his dynamic and enigmatic persona within the band.


1. What inspired Russel’s character in Gorillaz?

Russel’s character in Gorillaz was inspired by Jamie Hewlett’s love of hip-hop, with influences from real-life figures such as Ice Cube. His persona as a ‘hip-hop hard man’ reflects Hewlett’s admiration for the genre and its impact on the band’s evolution.

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2. How did Russel’s experiences shape the band’s music?

Russel’s diverse experiences, including his possession and encounters with adversity, have infused Gorillaz’s music with a unique depth and resonance. His contributions as a drummer and percussionist have been integral to the band’s sonic identity.

3. What sets Russel apart as a member of Gorillaz?

Russel’s resilience, adaptability, and multifaceted persona set him apart as a pivotal member of Gorillaz. His journey has added layers to the band’s narrative and contributed to their enduring legacy.

4. How has Russel’s character evolved over the phases of Gorillaz?

Russel’s character has evolved through a series of transformative experiences, shaping his identity within the band. From facing personal demons to embracing new responsibilities, Russel’s evolution reflects the band’s dynamic trajectory.

5. What can we expect from Russel in the future of Gorillaz?

Russel’s ongoing journey promises new adventures, challenges, and contributions to Gorillaz’s musical and narrative landscape. His enigmatic persona and evolving beliefs hint at a compelling future within the band’s evolving universe.

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