Much like pimpin', being a rapper in Canada ain't easy. In a country where the most famous emcees are liberals from Vancouver, it's easy to see why the proud nation of beavers and maple syrup might be lacking in street cred. Belly, a.k.a Rebellyus, a straight Ottawa O.G., is hoping to change all this. With his do-it-yourself attitude, Belly has already seen success with his widespread mix-tape distribution throughout the streets of his home city, as well as filming a $200,000 music video for his first big single, "Pressure."
"People just need to stop blaming others," says Belly. "They need to start taking things seriously and taking risks. It's a problem with the artists and the labels that aren't willing to take risks. If you believe in something, you'll take a risk on it because you know it will succeed."
Producing his first cuts with little more than a desktop PC and some recording software, Belly has built himself up from the ground like no other Canadian rapper. When he was still under his original moniker of Rebellyus, Belly and Massari started the group The Prophets--a short-lived dream due to a number of personal issues with several American labels. With the backing of entrepreneur Tony Sal, Belly and Massari started their own label, Capital Prophet records, and have garnered nothing but positive buzz throughout the country.
"I'm a writer first and foremost," explains Belly. "The music is different, but if someone can tell you a story and they can make you go, 'Oh yeah, I get that,' then you can get yourself in their position and write them a song."
Responsible for the hits "Smile for Me," "Be Easy" and "Rush the Floor," Belly has shown talent far beyond his flow or deep, resounding voice. Rather than spitting rap cliches about peddling rock or shooting rivals, Belly's songs range in themes from broken heartedness to the rising crime rate in Canada.
"I think it's just based on poor policing," Belly growls. "It's also a problem that we're decreasing the amount of social programs for kids. If a kid is playing basketball he isn't playing with guns. My song, "I swear," talks about the vicious circle the violence causes."
Shouting rhymes and messages, Belly is showcasing his talent throughout Canada, joining rap legends Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube for the Canadian leg of their tour. With his first full album, The Revolution on the way, it's only a matter of time before Belly shows the world that hip hop doesn't have to be American to be noteworthy.