In America’s current social climate, it has never been easier to make an excuse as to why you aren’t successful. There are more people willing to listen to negativity than ever before and the acceptance of mediocrity is at an all-time high. Further, it has never been more difficult to be an immigrant in the United States. Thankfully, Ahmed Balshe takes accountability for his actions.
Balshe, better known as “Belly” first went by the name of “Rebellyus.” He started out as a drummer for Ottawa punk bands and has since used his networking ability and strong sense of moral character to forge meaningful connections within the music industry. As an instrumental figure within the Canadian rap scene, he has won two Juno Awards which are better known as the Grammy’s of Canada for Rap Recording of the Year. He has long been a staple in the Great White North and just recently began to have his music reach new heights.
Belly: relationships over transactions
His first record deal still exists to this day and that is with Wassim Slaibi a.k.a. “Tony Sal” and Capital Prophet Records. No matter what stage of life he is in, Belly has always maintained relationships that are fortified with lasting impacts. In 2015, he signed to XO Records on the back of his dynamic friendship with The Weeknd and in 2016 he commenced a major partnership with Jay-Z and Roc Nation. The key to signing with Jay-Z was the way Hov gravitated toward his amazing album, “Up For Days.” Another major factor in the emergence of that situation was the fact that during the first interaction between Jay and Belly they did not speak about music once. Simply conversing on a human-to-human basis about life and not business led to this fruitful partnership. Roc-A-Fella artists always focus on the relational before the transactional and this scenario did not prove any different.
Before Belly’s solo projects could truly bubble, he had to grind to pay his dues. The area where he made a major splash in the music industry was through songwriting. He received six song credits on The Weeknd’s “Beauty Behind the Madness” and also helped write for Beyonce’s streaming behemoth of an album “Lemonade.” Some other influential figures he has worked with are DJ Drama, Kurupt and Boi-1da. It took patience, persistence and downright gut-wrenching effort to get his name recognized nationally.
Belly’s music is provocative . As someone who has dealt with adversity through every stage of his life, he is a wonderfully resilient voice for the voiceless. His magnetic presence radiates within industry circles in the form of an intriguing, complex and admirable artistic figure. With hypnotizing lyrical webs that tangle listeners, great presto and dialogue he switches up the formula in ways unimaginable. His meticulous compositions exemplify a prolific work ethic, biting wit, smooth flow and punctuating delivery. As a person that was born with a gift, he pushes himself to reach new levels every day. Ultimately, he personifies the gift of life by touching people spiritually and creating a deeply rooted bond with his listeners.
When Belly worked with Boi-1da many people began to take notice. Their collaborative project titled, “Mumble Rap” showed that Belly’s knack for songwriting had truly began to pay off. On this project, he defends the term Mumble Rap in support that there is enough room for everyone in the hip-hop world. By naming his project after a derogatory colloquialism, he defends every facet of the game by snatching the term back and flipping the script via his own rhetorical renditions. Belly is a firm proponent of involving everyone that deserves their shine and the idea that there are multiple different genres, forms and flavors of rap music.
Belly: vessel of strength
Belly reached a new level on his album, “Immigrant.” Belly brazenly rejects the President of the United States and all of his ideals. This album was a huge statement toward that sentiment, and displayed that this Palestinian- bred man is unafraid to express himself when it comes to the cultural displacement he has experienced and the hustle, or determination he put forth to climb out of poverty.
The game needs more artists like Belly. He speaks from the heart with wisdom and brings about ideals that need to be emphasized much more. For example, he was apart of the “Get Your Money Right” panel in Detroit where he spoke with Russell Simmons about the importance of banking, home/car ownership, repairing bad credit and entrepreneurship. Through collaboration, organic approaches, natural vibes, impromptu occurrences and genuine social encounters, Balshe clearly represents the essence of human nature that is severely lacking in hip-hop.