Belly (rapper)

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Belly in 2008
Background information
Birth name Ahmad Balshe
Born (1984-04-07) April 7, 1984 (age 34)
Jenin, Palestine
Origin Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • Rapper
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
Years active 2005–present
Associated acts

Ahmad Balshe (Arabic: أحمد بلشي‎) (born April 7, 1984), better known by his stage name Belly, is a Canadian rapper, singer, songwriter, and record producer of Palestinian-Jordanian descent.[1]

Born in Jenin in the Palestinian West Bank, and raised in Ottawa,[2] Balshe embarked on a career as a musician at twenty-one years old, with the release of his debut mixtape, Death Before Dishonor: Vol. 1. He then released eight additional projects in a span of six years, including his debut studio album The Revolution (2007), as well as two collaborative mixtapes, The Lost Tapes and The Greatest Dream I Never Had, with both Kurupt and DJ Drama, respectively.

After a hiatus from music, he secured a recording contract with XO in 2015, (and later an additional contract with Roc Nation) after contributing with co-writing a variety of songs for R&B artists The Weeknd and Beyoncé. Belly received a total of eleven credits across the former's latest studio albums, while also providing backing vocals and co-writing the song "6 Inch" from the latter's album, Lemonade. Belly then went onto release four further mixtapes.

Belly was then honoured as Songwriter of the Year at the 2016 SOCAN (Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) Awards for his "significant and outstanding contributions to popular music over the past year".[3] Alongside his SOCAN award, Belly has won a Juno Award, three MuchMusic Video Awards, and has twice attained a top chart position in the national Much Music Countdown.


2005–2007: Early career and The Revolution[edit]

His first single "Pressure", featuring Ginuwine peaked at number 10 on the Canadian CHR radio charts, and number one on MuchMusic's Video chart. In April 2007, Belly released the video for his second single "Don't Be Shy", featuring Nina Sky, as well as the video for "History of Violence" directed by Martin Verigin and Jeffrey Hagerman. The video remains his most controversial record to date. In "History of Violence", Belly explains his views on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and the War in Iraq.[4]

During the 2007 NHL Playoffs, as the Ottawa Senators were competing, Belly released a single entitled "Bandwagon" (produced by Hussain). When the Senators made the Stanley Cup Finals, Belly released a second version of the song which featured goaltender Ray Emery.[5]

His debut album, The Revolution, was released on June 5, 2007. This double disc album was divided into two sections: The People and The System. The People contained more in depth songs, such as "History of Violence" (produced by Whosane?), "Follow Me", and "Revolutionary", where he challenges his listeners to discover the facts regarding the Middle-East situation. Other songs on this disc include "People Change" (produced by Whosane?), "Leave Me Alone" where he talks about his longtime friends and the memories that he kept from them. The System contained his hit singles "Don't Be Shy", "Ridin'", and "Pressure".

The Revolution achieved Gold sales in Canada and won the 2008 Juno Award for Rap Recording of the Year.[6] Singles from The Revolution won two MuchMusic Video Awards for Best Rap Video; "Pressure" in 2007 and "Ridin'" in 2008.

2007–2012: Additional mixtapes and hiatus[edit]

Belly also released a body of work that was a compilation of songs he had worked on with Dogg Pound rapper Kurupt some time after his first album The Revolution. Some songs were unreleased with a few that had seen release dates on previous mixtapes. This mixtape was called Belly & Kurupt The Lost Tapes 2008 hosted yet again by DJ Ill Will. In 2011, Belly released another new mixtape titled The Greatest Dream I Never Had which he has said will have no features.[7]

His mixtape, Sleepless Nights 1.5 was released April 2012. The first single "Hot Girl",[8] featuring Snoop Dogg was released on September 8, 2009.

Second single "To The Top", featuring Ava, was released in 2010. Belly's first single of 2011 was "Back Against the Wall",[9] featuring Grammy Award-nominated singer Kobe Honeycutt.

2015–present: Signing to XO and Roc Nation[edit]

In May 2015, Belly released his newest mixtape, entitled Up For Days.[10] It featured 10 tracks, including four collaborations with Travis Scott, Juelz Santana, French Montana, and XO-label head, The Weeknd in addition to six solo tracks. On November 24, 2015, it was announced that he had signed with Jay-Z's Roc Nation label.[11]

Belly was also prominently featured on The Weeknd's 2015 album, Beauty Behind the Madness, earning six writing credits.

In February 2016, he released the song "Zanzibar", featuring American rapper Juicy J.[12] On November 11, 2016, he released Inzombia which had 11 tracks.[13]

On October 6, 2017, Belly released Mumble Rap which the mixtape being executive produced by fellow Canadian producer Boi-1da.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Belly is a Muslim.[15] In May 2016, Belly and The Weeknd cancelled an appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel Show due to Donald Trump being present.


Studio albums[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Academy Awards[edit]

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref(s)
2016 "Earned It" Best Original Song Nominated [16]

Black Reel Awards[edit]

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref(s)
2016 "Earned It" Outstanding Original Song Nominated [17]

Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref(s)
2016 "Earned It" Best R&B Song Nominated [18]
Best Song Written for Visual Media Nominated

iHeartRadio Music Awards[edit]

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref(s)
2016 "Earned It" Best Song from a Movie Nominated [19]

Juno Award[edit]

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref(s)
2008 Himself New Artist of the Year Nominated [20]
"The Revolution" Rap Recording of the Year Won
2016 Himself Songwriter of the Year Won [21]
2017 Himself Fan Choice Award Nominated [22]
"Another Day in Paradise" Rap Recording of the Year Nominated

SOCAN Songwriting Prize[edit]

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref(s)
2015 "Wanderlust" Urban/Independent Music Won [23]
2016 Himself Songwriter of the Year Won
"The Hills" International Song Won
Pop/Rock Music Won
"Earned It" Won
2017 "Might Not" Urban Music Won


  1. ^ "The Weeknd's success has a strong Ottawa connection". Ottawa Citizen. February 16, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Rapper's lyrics anger some at Toronto's Canada 150 show". CTV News. July 4, 2017. 
  3. ^ "SOCAN Awards 2016 celebrate great Canadian songwriters, composers, film scorers, music publishers". Retrieved 21 June 2016. 
  4. ^ "Belly shoots from the gut". Archived from the original on 10 June 2007. Retrieved 10 June 2007. 
  5. ^ "Champions, baby". Retrieved May 18, 2007. 
  6. ^ CP Records Releases New Belly and Keshia Chante single "Get To Know You" Archived July 6, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "BELLY on Twitter". Retrieved 19 September 2016. 
  8. ^ "YouTube". Retrieved 19 September 2016. 
  9. ^ "YouTube". Retrieved 19 September 2016. 
  10. ^ "Belly – Up For Days – NoDJ". Retrieved 19 September 2016. 
  11. ^ "Belly Signs with Roc Nation for New LP". Retrieved 19 September 2016. 
  12. ^ "Zanzibar". Retrieved 19 September 2016. 
  13. ^ Goddard, Kevin (11 November 2016). "Belly releases follow up to Another Day In Paradise". Hotnewhiphop. Retrieved 11 November 2016. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Belly on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 31 May 2018. 
  16. ^ "Oscars 2016: The complete list of winners and nominees". Retrieved 10 December 2016. 
  17. ^ "Black Reel Awards '16 – Winners & Nominees". 20 February 2016. 
  18. ^ "2016 Grammy Awards: Complete list of winners and nominees". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 December 2016. 
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External links[edit]