Palestinian-Canadian Ahmad Balshe, better known as Belly, has been enjoying a solid run for the past few years. The Roc Nation rapper has released a trio of well received projects that have built him a cult following, spawned a bunch of hits across streaming platforms and as a songwriter he’s contributed his pen to major records for Beyoncé and The Weeknd. He’s just come off an extensive US tour with Juicy J, and is preparing to hit the road playing arenas all over the US on the ‘Starboy: Legend Of The Fall’ tour. But he’s far too busy spending every spare minute in the studio to keep track of his accolades.
“I just lock myself up in the studio,” he admits, taking a breather from his latest session. “People are like ‘Yo, this shit is really moving out here’, I’m like ‘Okay, that’s cool. That’s great.’ For the most part I just love to do this.”
Belly’s sublime blend of trippy melodies and insomnia-fuelled raps paint gothic soundscapes that walk the line between beauty and tragedy. His music is laced with references to angels and demons, ballerinas and zombies, as his world blurs between luxury lifestyle and horrifying hallucinations.
“I think it’s therapy,” he considers, solemnly. “The most success I saw musically, the more fucked up shit was happening to me on a personal level. I was losing friends, six year relationships. Being so deep in this [music] shit, you can overlook things. You get that tunnel vision, and it was a hard balance for me. I’m not somebody that talks about my feelings. I don’t lay in bed and talk with a significant other. Every time a girl tells me ‘You’re not open enough.’ I’m like ‘Just pop in one of my projects. You’ll understand everything.’”
Today is his 33rd birthday, and he intends to celebrate it with “the biggest party L.A has ever seen.” As a gift to his fans he’s released title track from his long-awaited studio album, his first in a decade. ‘Glorious’ is produced by regular collaborator DannyBoyStyles and is a mantra for the current position Belly occupies within a career that’s been over a decade in the making.
“I’m making the best music of my career right now,” he states matter-of-factly. “This is really my moment of glory after all this time. After being put through everything I got put through in this industry to finally get a little bit of recognition now is like, it feels glorious.”