Gorillaz, the world's first virtual hip-hop band, were created by songwriter Damon Albarn (born 23 March 1968 in Whitechapel, London) and cartoonist Jamie Hewlett (born 3 April 1968 in Horsham, Sussex) during the late 1990s. As the frontman of Blur, Damon Albarn was one of Britpop's most iconic figures when he launched Gorillaz in 1998, and the new group offered him a chance to explore a wider range of sounds — including hip-hop, electronic, and pop — as a cartoon character named 2-D. Joining 2-D were three additional members of the band: Murdoc Niccals (voiced by Phil Cornwell), Russel Hobbs (voiced by Remi Kabaka Jr.) and Noodle (voiced by Roses Gabor, with Haruka Kuroda, Miho Hatori, and Haruka Abe previously playing the role). Together, the group teamed up for the Tomorrow Comes Today EP in 2000, then found international acclaim with the single "Clint Eastwood" the following year. Their self-titled album, Gorillaz, reached number three in the UK and number 17 in the US, selling more than seven million copies worldwide. Demon Days followed in 2005 and D.A.R.E. arrived in 2007, with both albums debuting at the top of the UK Album Charts. Guests like Snoop Dogg, Gruff Rhys, De La Soul, Bobby Womack and Lou Reed all appeared on 2010's Plastic Beach, which became the group's highest-charting album in America. After The Fall arrived in 2011, a rift between Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett stalled the group's progress for years, with Humanz marking the band's reconciled return in 2017. The Now Now, Gorillaz's sixth album, was released one year later. Alongside its arrival, the band revealed new member Ace Copular, who was brought in to replace Murdoc Niccals (who, in the fictional Gorillaz world, had been sent to prison). Continuing to explore innovative presentations of the band's music, Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett began releasing new songs via a series of standalone web episodes in early 2020, eventually packaging the new music into an album, Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez, and releasing the finished product in October. In 2023, the band — who can claim a Grammy Award, one Brit Award and 11 Brit nominations to their name — released their eighth studio album Cracker Island in February 2023. The LP contains standout collaborations with Bad Bunny ("Tormenta") and Thundercat ("Cracker Island") and was largely produced by pop mastermind Greg Kurstin alongside British music producer Remi Kabaka Jr.