For as long as there's been hip-hop there have been the Queensbridge Houses, a monolithic structure that has served as both launching pad and muse to some of the most influential acts in hip-hop history. From old school pioneers like Marly Marl and the Juice crew to modern day warriors like Mobb Deep and Nas, Queensbridge is more than just a place; it's a symbol of the force of hip-hop and the power it continues to wield.
Now it's time to add Bravehearts, who come armed to do battle with the group's rugged debut album Bravehearted, to the list of those who call QB home and continue to pay it homage. Deftly combining the hard-edged, no-nonsense wisdom of the streets with the bass-blessed party perfect vibe of the clubs, the Bravehearts dynamic duo, Jungle and Wiz, have created an album that pulsates with fire, focus and a ferocity that is undeniable. Featuring production from Swizz Beats, LES, Lil Jon, Mega Hertz and Midi Mafia, and guest appearances from Nas, Lil Jon, and Nashawn, Bravehearted is one of the most eagerly awaited records of the year. One listen and it's obvious that the group is unleashing the sound of the street, the sound of young urban America, the sound of Queensbridge, the sound of Bravehearts.
The Bravehearts' saga is as classic as dope beats and phat rhymes. Jungle and Wiz both grew up in the QB houses and met as kids; hanging on the benches, soaking in the atmosphere and dreaming of a way to break free and go for their own. Wiz loved break dancing and rap and in QB he heard plenty of it, as the beats would ricochet off the concrete walls; but he was equally influenced by the gangsta drama he witnessed. "I'd see certain people on the street and I'd be inspired by the way they moved and how they dressed and the money they were making," Wiz recalls.
Jungle found his inspiration close at home. The youngest son of acclaimed jazz/blues musician Olu Dara and the kid brother of labelmate and multi-platinum recording artist Nas, Jungle grew up surrounded by music. When Nas secured his label deal in the mid- 1990's Jungle began to realize that he had skills of his own and the goods to make it. "I noticed my own musical tastes and thought maybe I could be in this music business. So slowly and surely we formed a group."
Back in 1998 Wiz and Jungle were part of the crew that always had Nas' back and hit the road with the then-rising star. Noticing their unwavering loyalty, Nas dubbed them "Bravehearts" because, as Jungle notes "We'd stay around him even if he was down. We'd always be by his side."
"Once we actually started to rhyme and come up with our own songs, we just kept that name," Wiz adds.
At first Bravehearts numbered five but through a process of elimination it became clear who was truly down and who was just along for the ride. Eventually the Bravehearts emerged as a duo with auxiliary member Nashawn coming on board in an unofficial capacity after the Bravehearts had started to make a rep.
Bravehearts' status elevation from Nas' homeboys to serious players kicked off when the group had a track on 1998's Belly soundtrack. That small taste of success whet the Bravehearts' collective appetites and they were ready to make their next big move. That move was 2001's posse album QB's Finest and the smash single "Oochie Wally." The salacious jam was an instant hit, went gold and on the strength of it the Bravehearts were offered a major label deal.
Even though Bravehearts were busy working on what would become their major label debut they still had time to lend their talents to other projects. Fans got a chance to feel their flow on 50 Cent's Guess Who's Back mixtape and the duo also added their support to Nas' critically-acclaimed God's Son (2002), appearing on "Zone Out."
Also helping Bravehearts' were heavy hitters such as Lil Jon, who produced Bravehearted's smash "Quick To Back Down." The song, which features Lil Jon and Nas, was recorded in the ATL and is the meeting ground between Dirty South crunk and East Coast grit. "I didn't even know that Lil Jon made beats," Jungle laughs, "but when we got to the studio he had this hot track. We wrote our rhymes in like 15 minutes and you can hear how everything turned out."
Another hot record is "I Will," produced by newcomer Heel. Described by Wiz as 'a real ghetto record,' "I Will" shows off the Bravehearts' sexier side as does the grinding "Sensations," which Jungle calls "a song for the ladies." "You know on some of our songs we might curse a lot and say bi---es but it's just street," he says. "We're from the ghetto. We're coming real hard but it's not women bashing, it's just that street perspective and what goes on."
That street love is in full effect on joints like "Bust My Guns," produced by Midi Mafia. Offers Wiz, "That record is crazy! It's banging and it's got passion and a real edge to it."
That edge, combined with a raw, righteous good time attitude is what makes Bravehearts who they are. Asked to sum up the vibe of Bravehearted and Jungle replies, "It's real hardcore street music but with this party twist. We talk about regular things that go on every day. I don't want people to think we're coming with the hard metaphors, we're more straight partying and our music hits you straight in the face. This album is tight and right to the point." "It's true to our word," Wiz states, "and to where we're from. Maybe some of what we're saying is a little shocking, but it's real and that's the best you can give the fans. Something real."
--- from the official Bravehearts website