After spending almost a decade as a hip-hop producer and songwriter in Ottawa, it was only a matter of time before Palestinian-Canadian rapper Belly released his own music album.
However, the artist stresses that making money was not the sole motivation behind releasing his CD, The Revolution.
Belly, who is aiming to tour the Middle East later this year, is hoping his music will shine the spotlight on the ongoing situation between the Palestinians and the Israelis and create international awareness.
Born in Jenin, Palestine, Belly’s parents fled the war-torn country when he was an infant. The next seven years were spent travelling between Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan. His family finally moved to Ottawa, where Belly found his calling in rap music. Emirates Business met up with the artist to find out more.
First of all, where does the name Belly come from?
It comes from Rebellyus, which was my nickname while growing up. That’s what I represent: no rules, no borders, no barriers. I say what I want to say, when I want to say it, and how I want to say it.
You first emerged from behind the music scene by appearing with Massari on Rush The Floor. How did that come about?
I actually wrote Massari’s debut album. Rush The Floor was never intended to be a single, but after we released his album the response to it was massive.
Tell us more about your album, The Revolution.
The Revolution is my Mona Lisa, my masterpiece; it’s the truest expression of my life and thoughts. I really gave listeners my pain and my glory, the love and the hate. And that has helped people all around the world relate to what I say.
With your international following, do you think there is a greater understanding in the West about Arab culture now?
I definitely believe that. For a long time, the Western half of the world was only hearing one perspective. Arabs speaking out and expressing themselves in a peaceful manner is the most powerful tool we possess. This helps to educate the world about the real situation and makes people realise there are two sides to every story. And as an individual, I’m not afraid to express our side of the story.
Will you be touring the Middle East?
That’s a guarantee. I can’t wait. My shows are full of energy and I love to make crowds go crazy. To perform in front of people from the Middle East is an honour.
Where in the region would you like to visit?
I want to travel all over the Middle East. Being proudly Palestinian, I would love to go there and perform for my people.
What’s next for you?
I have an album with my good friend Kurupt of the Dogg Pound (DPG) on the way, a brand new mix tape hitting the streets and the internet in about a month or so, and a world tour on the way. It’s going to be a good year, baby.
Other global arab stars
ISAM BACHIRI: The Moroccan artist is part of Danish group Outlandish.
FREDWRECK: The international hip-hop producer, is of Palestinian descent. Karl wolf The R&B star was born in Lebanon and grew up
in the UAE.
CILVARINGZ: Wu-Tang Clan’s Tarik Azzougarh, AKA Cilvaringz, is originally Moroccan.
Spreading peace with a Revolution