Open Space: Belly
When the Canadian rapper Belly dropped by MASS APPEAL HQ, he came with the swagger of a fresh talent and the finesse of a veteran. In actuality, he is both: Belly released his first album 10 years ago, with three mixtapes being released in the two years prior. More recently he’s earned a co-writing credit on Beyoncé’s Grammy-winning ‘Lemonade’ album, as well as helping to pen hits for The Weeknd.
Now, the JUNO-Award winning, Grammy-nominated Roc Nation-XO artist has released a new mixtape—available as an actual cassette—that was named ‘Mumble Rap’ ironically as a way of challenging the term many critics use when condescendingly referring to the new wave of rap artists.
In the latest episode of Open Space, Belly states that he recorded the entire project in the span of two days, referring to the song “Lullaby” as the hardest record he ever had to record. “It was such a challenge to get there,” he says. The first five or six times I tried, I’d get half-way through and I’d choke up.” In tackling this intensely personal song about his family’s experiences as Palestinian immigrants, Belly says he never tried writing from such a vulnerable space before. “It’s real life,” he says. “How am I going to turn this into a punchline? My life ain’t a fuckin’ punchline.”
‘Mumble Rap’ features production from some of Belly’s frequent collaborators, among them the Drake’s go-to producers, Boi-1da, T-Minus, and Vinylz. The rest of the production is handled by Belly, Ben Billions, and DannyBoyStyles, all of whom are XO signees responsible for the Beyoncé song “6 Inch” from ‘Lemonade.’ On his relationship with XO founder The Weeknd, Belly says the key to their relationship is their brotherhood, which existed for three years before they began working together.
Watch the full video above where Belly goes into detail about how his collaboration with Pusha T came about, his career beginnings, and his views on our current President.