With a name like Belly and an album titled The Revolution, it's almost fitting when the rapper says he believes people hunger for an artist like him to revive hip hop.
"I think that people need this (album), at this point in hip hop," Belly says. "The state of hip hop, everybody knows that it's in a recession right now."
Belly is a 23-year-old rookie rapper from Ottawa whose first album, a sprawling 28-song double disc debuted at the start of the month. It currently sits at No. 6 on the Toronto SoundScan charts behind established heavy hitters like Rihanna, Paul McCartney, Michael Buble, Amy Winehouse and Maroon 5.
His first video for the single "Pressure" earned him four nominations at the MuchMusic Video Awards, where he took home "Best Rap Video" ward. Read more:
Hip-hop artist Belly, known as CANADA'S GOD FATHER took home a -Best Rap Video- award for the song "Pressure" featuring R&B crooner Ginuwine, during the 2007 MuchMusic Video Awards on Sunday June 17th, 2007. This is such an honor for me, said Belly as he picked up his MMVA trophy. - Hip-hop lives strong tonight! - Poignant words from an artist who has been a part of the struggle to make hip-hop a powerful, credible and viable art form in Canada.
This Ottawa-based Palestinian rapper Belly delivered a standout live performance with song Pressure featuring special guest Ginuwine, dancing girls, two violin players and a gospel choir
A very hot performance as well.
But why is Belly already calling himself Canada's Godfather of hip hop?
"If it wasn't really how I felt I wouldn't say it," he says. "Before me, there was a void in Canadian hip hop and everybody can admit that."
"Who (in Canada) has done anything controversial?" he continues. "Nobody really pushes it."
Belly - a Palestinian born in the West Bank city of Jenin - already has the endorsement of a few veteran hip hop artists south of the border, such as Scarface and Korrupt, who both appear on The Revolution album.
Earlier this year, Belly toured Canada with Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube. He also had three mix tapes that were presented by big name U.S. deejays. He has come a long way from his first recordings, done on a home computer. Word of Belly got to entrepreneur Tony Sal a year after those early recordings and Sal sought Belly out. Fifteen-year-old Belly and his friend, Lebanese-born singer Massari, were the first signings to Sal's independent record label, Capital Prophet Records.
Belly is now vice-president and the head of artist development for CP Records. He has also wrote three top 10 hits for Massari prior to emerging as a solo artist.
So with everything he's accomplished, there's no question Belly is a very confident man these days.
"Paris Hilton is not going to get to hear my album," he jokes. "I heard through the grapevine that she was dying to hear it."
But behind Belly's bragging on The Revolution, he's written some lyrics with a serious message.
He criticizes politicians, questions religion, laments about poverty and comments on civilian deaths in war zones, on such songs as "Revolutionary":
"Who cares what your religion is, there's people living in a world full of hate, hunger, war and missing kids.We are living privileged lives. Believe me, there's no reason anyone should feel limited. They say listen kids, rap is a bad influence, when we committed less than half the crime politicians did. Now the secret's in the safe. They knock gangsta music when Cheney's shooting people in the face."
And from -A History of Violence-:
"Mind's spinning as the world's revolving. Right now we're teaching our kids, if there's problems, only war can solve them."
Belly says, "I think the message behind (my music) is: Enough is enough. People are people no matter where you go. Now when you portray certain people and show people in a certain light, those people become hated within the society, and that's what has happened."
Belly - whose family left Jenin when he was a year old and lived in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan before making the move to Ottawa when he was seven - has experienced those stereotypes first hand when travelling to the U.S. on tour.
"When I first started going ... it was crazy," he says. "I would spend 11 hours in a detainment room."
Those experiences, along with his experience selling drugs at the age of 13 have given him plenty to rhyme about. He has got so much to say, and so much on my mind. Also admitting he has a lot of weight on his shoulders that he has got to get out.