NAAM Brigade

NAAM Brigade Biography

Look for NAAM Brigade's debut album EARLY IN THE GAME, available everywhere NOW!

Download the free MP3, "What You Doin' Wit Dat."

There’s a war going on in Ghetto, USA. Pimps, players, hustlers, fiends and ordinary citizens are all locked in a desperate struggle to survive. Enter NAAM Brigade: A hardened band of warrior poets from the treacherous streets of Southwest Philly, whose relentless quest to keep on keepin’ on, elevate their lives and their hood, and have a good time doing it, is the stuff ancient legends are made of.

“NAAM Brigade is about the street soldier,” says Sonni Blak, one fourth of the latest Illadelph camp to take over America’s hoods by force. “You’re always going to have your generals and lieutenants but it’s us, the soldiers, that are on the front line.”

No doubt, one listen to Sonni, Rambo, Eyse da SupaStar, and Meek Millz firing off their lyrical ammo backed by infectious hooks and you’ll realize that NAAM Brigade isn't your average rap clique. On the contrary, NAAM Brigade are veterans of the hood who want to tell their story and enjoy life at the same time, a rare combination in a hip-hop cosmos where rappers either bang or ball but never both. Indeed, through Sonni’s poetics, Rambo’s energy, Eyse’s wit, and Meek's rapid-fire flow, you’ll be transported back to the ghetto to experience first hand all that’s bad but also good about Southwest Philly. Because the streets are where it all started.

“Where we come from, it’s about survival and hustling,” reflects Sonni. “The only positive thing we had is our music. Without it, who knows if we’d be living at all.”

Certainly, coming up in Southwest Philly back in the late eighties wasn’t easy for the childhood friends who, along with original group member Q-DON, forged their relationship on the neighborhood basketball courts. Surrounded by the lure of easy money from hustling on the streets, these young soldiers turned towards music as an escape. Inspired by local rapper Ace Kool Rock, Sonni, Rambo, Eyse and Q started spitting rhymes in corner ciphers. “It was crazy battles all the time so we could hone our skills,” says Rambo.

Soon, the group had earned their stripes, putting out a series of mix tapes that boasted rhymes hard enough for any hoodsta’ and beats savory enough for any playa’. In ’98, Elektra Records took notice, scooping up NAAM Brigade (then known as Task Force) and whisking them away from the streets so that the group could record the album the masses were hungering for.

But a week after their debut was completed, the street life caught up to the Brigade. Q-DON was shot and killed by a stray bullet at a shootout at a Philly nightclub. The death devastated his friends. Unable to concentrate on music, the group parted ways with Elektra and returned to the streets.

To make matter worse, much of NAAM's crew had been knocked by the police and began serving lengthy jail sentences. “It had been hardship after hardship,” remembers Sonni. “It was like just when we got to those picket fences, the evil was always getting us.”

The only option for NAAM was to get back in the studio and sear their pain onto wax. And that’s just what they did, releasing “NAAM Brigade Mixtape Volume 2,” which sold 20,000 units on the streets of Philly, bringing NAAM Brigade back to the forefront of the burgeoning Philly music scene. “People were pulling up in they cars to cop those tapes,” laughs Sonni. “Like they was trying to buy drugs but they wanted our tapes instead!”

Soon after, an impromptu performance for Evan and Jonnie Forster of Forster Bros. Entertainment led to a trip out to California and a meeting with storied music executive Ted Field, who was in the process of launching ARTISTdirect Records.

Now, with many of their struggles behind them, NAAM Brigade is finally poised to drop their debut release, Early In The Game, an astonishing triumph that combines street parables, party joints and good ol’ fashioned hip-hop.

Whether it’s the Mega-Hertz produced street anthem, “Gangsta,” the electric guitar-fused ode to the block “We Live It,” or the dark, Cali-inspired warning, “We Got It Locked,” Early In The Game is one of those albums you can let play all the way through. “We came at every song like it was a single,” comments Rambo.

There’s the first single, the SUV-rattling “Early In The Game,” on which fellow Philly soldier and childhood friend, Freeway trades brazen boasts with NAAM Brigade over thick bass thumps and a hypnotic organ loop.

NAAM Brigade shows a different side on "Can't Let It Go," the riveting Lil’ Mo collaboration, which borrows from the Sting classic, “Shape of My Heart.” Here, Sonni, Rambo, Eyse and Meek remind the listener of their pain, from being broke to dealing with drama: “Monday’s be them slow days but I still get it in. Cause slow money’s better than no money comin’ in!” spits an emotionally charged Sonni.

Joined by Juvenile on “What You Doin’ Wit Dat,” NAAM pays homage to the almighty ass, hollering at their women with the smooth game of a Philly hustler, backed by a carefree, chopped up, club-loving beat. “Thugs” featuring Philly R&B crooners Unplug, a devout testimony to the life they’ve led.

Fourteen blazing joints. No fillers. No weak links: A superior and complete work that has the remarkable ability to stay street, while daring you to dance in one blunt-choked breath. All compliments of NAAM Brigade—four Philly OG’s with a story to tell.

“People can get up close and personal with us through ‘Early In The Game’,” concludes Sonni. “They’re going to feel our hunger, our inspiration and as a result, feel hungry and inspired themselves. Because everyone can relate.”

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