Ahmad Balshe (Arabic: أحمد بلشي; born 7 April 1984), known professionally as Belly, is a Palestinian-Canadian rapper, singer, songwriter, and record producer.[1][2] Born in Jenin, Balshe was raised in Ottawa.[3] His debut mixtape, Death Before Dishonor: Vol. 1 (2005) was followed by eight additional projects until the release of his debut studio album, The Revolution (2007). After an eight-year hiatus in favor of songwriting for fellow Canadian singer the Weeknd, Balshe signed with his record label, XO, as a recording artist in 2015.

Belly in 2021
Belly in 2021
Background information
Birth nameAhmad Balshe
Born (1984-04-07) 7 April 1984 (age 40)
Jenin, Palestine
OriginOttawa, Ontario, Canada
  • Rapper
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
Years active2005–present
Dina Rabadi
(m. 2023)

Released in a joint venture with Roc Nation, his eighth mixtape, Up for Days (2015), marked his first release on a major label and was led by the single "Might Not" (featuring the Weeknd) — his first entry on both Canadian Hot 100 and Billboard Hot 100 which received double platinum and platinum certifications by Music Canada (MC) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), respectively. His second studio album, Immigrant (2018), narrowly entered the Billboard 200 along with his third, See You Next Wednesday (2021).[4] His fourth album, 96 Miles from Bethlehem (2024) was released by SALXCO and explored political subject matter, namely the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

In songwriting, Belly has been credited on each of the Weeknd's studio albums. He has also provided backing vocals and songwriting for American singer Beyoncé's 2016 song "6 Inch". In 2020, he co-wrote tracks on the Weeknd's fourth studio album After Hours and its single "Blinding Lights", which became Billboard's Greatest Hot 100 Hit of All Time in 2021.

Belly was 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".[5] 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. Belly has collaborated frequently with fellow Palestinian DJ Khaled.

Early life


Ahmad Balshe was born on 7 April 1984 in Jenin, Palestine.[6] When he was seven years old, he moved to Ottawa, Ontario, Canada with his family, through Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Jordan, to escape violence and poverty.[7]



2007–2008: Early career and The Revolution

Belly in 2008

Belly's 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, he 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 latter remains his most controversial record to date, as he explains his views on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and the War in Iraq.[8]

During the 2007 NHL Playoffs, as the Ottawa Senators were competing, Belly released the single "Bandwagon", produced by Hussain Hamdan. When the Senators made the Stanley Cup Finals, he released a second version of the song which featured goaltender Ray Emery.[9]

His debut album, The Revolution, was released on 5 June 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", "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" and "Leave Me Alone", where he talks about his longtime friends and the memories that he kept from them. The System contained his hit singles "Ridin'", and "Pleasure".

The Revolution achieved Gold sales in Canada and won the 2008 Juno Award for Rap Recording of the Year.[10] The singles from The Revolution won two MuchMusic Video Awards for Best Rap Video: "Pressure" in 2007 and "Ridin'" in 2008.

2011–2012: Additional mixtapes and hiatus


In 2011, Belly released his fifth mixtape Sleepless Nights, hosted by DJ ill Will.[11] He also released his sixth mixtape in collaboration with rapper Kurupt entitled Belly & Kurupt The Lost Tapes 2008.[12] The mixtape, also hosted by DJ ill Will, contained a compilation of songs the two had worked on some time after Belly's debut studio album was released. Some of the songs featured on the mixtape were previously unreleased. Belly then released his seventh mixtape The Greatest Dream I Never Had, hosted by DJ Drama.[13]

Belly's next project Sleepless Nights 1.5 was released in April 2012. The first single, "Hot Girl" featuring Snoop Dogg, was released on 8 September 2009.[14] Its second single, "To The Top" featuring Ava, was released in 2010. Belly's first single of 2011 was "Back Against the Wall", featuring singer Kobe Honeycutt.[15]

2015–2016: Signing to XO and Roc Nation


In May 2015, after a five-year hiatus, Belly released his eighth mixtape Up for Days.[16] It was his first project to be released under the record labels XO and Roc Nation and featured guest appearances by Travis Scott, Juelz Santana, French Montana and the Weeknd. Belly was also prominently featured on the Weeknd's sophomore album Beauty Behind the Madness in August 2015, earning writing credits on six of the fourteen songs: "Often", "The Hills", "Shameless", "Earned It", "In the Night" and "As You Are". On 24 November 2015, Belly formally signed to Roc Nation.[17]

In February 2016, Belly released the single "Zanzibar", featuring Juicy J.[18] On 27 May, he released his ninth mixtape Another Day in Paradise, which featured guest appearances by Travis Scott, Lil Wayne, Kehlani, Starrah, Waka Flocka, Juicy J and B-Real.[19] On 11 November, he released his tenth mixtape Inzombia. It featured guest appearances from Young Thug, Zack, Nav, Future, Ty Dolla $ign, Jadakiss and Ashanti. The mixtape was supported by two singles; "Consuela" and "The Day I Met You".[20] Later that month, the Weeknd released his third studio album Starboy, with Belly earning writing credits on nine of the eighteen songs: "Party Monster", "False Alarm", "Rockin'", "Six Feet Under", "Love to Lay", "A Lonely Night", "Ordinary Life", "Nothing Without You" and "All I Know".

2017–2018: Mumble Rap and Immigrant


On 23 June 2017, Belly was featured on DJ Khaled's tenth studio album Grateful on the song "Interlude". On 6 October, he released his eleventh mixtape Mumble Rap, which was executive produced by Boi-1da.[21] On 8 December, he was featured on Juicy J's fourth studio album Rubba Band Business on the song "On & On", which also featured Tory Lanez.

On 23 March 2018, Belly released the single "4 Days", featuring rapper YG and producer DJ Mustard.[22] The song's music video was released three days later.[23] He then released the single "Maintain" featuring Nav on 6 April, followed by the single "What You Want" featuring the Weeknd, which was released on 24 May. Both singles appeared on his second studio album, Immigrant, which was released on 12 October. The album also features guest appearances from Zack, French Montana, Meek Mill, Yo Gotti, and M.I.A.

2021: See You Next Wednesday


On 7 April 2021, Belly released the dual lead singles from his third studio album, See You Next Wednesday, "Money on the Table" featuring Benny the Butcher and "IYKYK".[24] He then released the second single, "Zero Love" featuring Moneybagg Yo, on 3 June.[25][26] On 22 July, he released the third single "Better Believe", a collaboration with the Weeknd and Young Thug. The song debuted on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 88.[27] On 18 August, Belly revealed the album artwork and tracklist, and announced the release date of 27 August.[28] The album also features guest appearances from Nav, Nas, Gunna, Big Sean, Lil Uzi Vert, and PnB Rock.[29] On December 17, 2021, a new posthumous single from Aaliyah was released, titled "Poison" featuring the Weeknd, in which Belly co-wrote the song, which contains vocals recorded by Aaliyah shortly before her death in 2001.[30][31][32][33]

2023: Mumble Rap 2


On 21 April 2023, Belly released the first single from his twelfth mixtape, Mumble Rap 2, "American Nightmare", his first release after taking a hiatus all of 2022.[34] He then released the second single, "Ambiance" on 5 May.[35] The mixtape was released on 19 May and features guest appearances from Nav, Rick Ross, Gucci Mane, and the late Gil Scott-Heron, while it was primarily produced by Hit-Boy.[36]

Personal life


On 30 July 2019, Balshe filed a lawsuit against Coachella Music LLC, Goldenvoice LLC, and IPS Security Incorporated alleging assault and battery, negligence, and emotional distress in response to an incident which occurred during the 2018 Coachella Music Festival.[37] A video obtained by TMZ shows festival security staff pushing Balshe up against a security barrier and repeatedly punching him.[38]

On 31 May 2021, Balshe announced his engagement to resident doctor and businesswoman Dina Rabadi.[39] They married on 9 September 2023 in an intimate Catholic ceremony at Mission Santa Barbara, followed by a larger ceremony held in Montecito, California.[40]



Studio albums


Awards and nominations

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref(s)
2016 "Earned It" Best Original Song Nominated [41]
Year Nominated work Category Result Ref(s)
2016 "Earned It" Outstanding Original Song Nominated [42]
Year Nominated work Category Result Ref(s)
2016 "Earned It" Best R&B Song Nominated [43]
Best Song Written for Visual Media Nominated
Year Nominated work Category Result Ref(s)
2016 "Earned It" Best Song from a Movie Nominated [44]
Year Nominated work Category Result Ref(s)
2008 Himself New Artist of the Year Nominated [45]
"The Revolution" Rap Recording of the Year Won
2016 Himself Songwriter of the Year Won [46]
2017 Himself Fan Choice Award Nominated [45]
"Another Day in Paradise" Rap Recording of the Year Nominated
2018 Mumble Rap Rap Recording of the Year Nominated
2019 Immigrant Rap Recording of the Year Nominated
2021 "After Hours", "Blinding Lights", "Save Your Tears" (with Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye and Jason "DaHeala" Quenneville) Songwriter of the Year Won [47]
Year Nominated work Category Result Ref(s)
2015 "Wanderlust" Urban/Independent Music Won [48]
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. ^ Kalouti, Noor (15 July 2017). "6 Arabs who are quietly dominating the music industry". StepFeed. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  2. ^ "The Weeknd's success has a strong Ottawa connection". Ottawa Citizen. 16 February 2016.
  3. ^ "Rapper's lyrics anger some at Toronto's Canada 150 show". CTV News. 4 July 2017.
  4. ^ "Belly Talks New Album, 'See You Next Wednesday,' His Friendship with the Weeknd, and Getting Advice from Jay-Z". 26 August 2021.
  5. ^ "SOCAN Awards 2016 celebrate great Canadian songwriters, composers, film scorers, music publishers". Archived from the original on 27 June 2016. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  6. ^ K, Disha (22 July 2021). "Who is Belly? Meet the rapper behind song Better Believe feat. The Weeknd". HITC. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  7. ^ "Belly: "Music is my therapy, my situation would be much worse without it"". JOE.co.uk. 6 June 2018. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  8. ^ "Belly shoots from the gut". Archived from the original on 10 June 2007. Retrieved 10 June 2007.
  9. ^ "Champions, baby". Archived from the original on 23 July 2012. Retrieved 18 May 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  10. ^ CP Records Releases New Belly and Keshia Chante single "Get To Know You" Archived 6 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine
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  12. ^ "Belly & Kurupt - The Lost Tapes (Hosted by DJ ill Will)". HotNewHipHop. 19 May 2011. Retrieved 21 August 2021.
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  14. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  15. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. 13 January 2011. Archived from the original on 15 December 2021. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
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  18. ^ "Zanzibar". Retrieved 19 September 2016.
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  27. ^ "Belly - Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
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  29. ^ "Belly Shares Release Date, Tracklist, and Features for New Album 'See You Next Wednesday'". Complex. Retrieved 21 August 2021.
  30. ^ "'Poison': New Aaliyah Song Featuring The Weeknd Confirmed to Drop This Week". That Grape Juice. 14 December 2021. Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  31. ^ Zidel, Alex (14 December 2021). "Aaliyah's Posthumous Song With The Weeknd "Poison" Coming Soon". Hot New Hip Hop. Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  32. ^ "Listen to Aaliyah and The Weeknd's collaborative new single, 'Poison'". NME. 17 December 2021. Retrieved 17 December 2021.
  33. ^ "Aaliyah & The Weeknd - Poison (single)". 17 December 2021. Retrieved 17 December 2021.
  34. ^ Grant, Shawn (21 April 2023). "Belly Returns with Single and Video "American Nightmare" Produced By Hit-Boy". The Source. Retrieved 21 April 2023.
  35. ^ Grant, Shawn (5 May 2023). "[Watch] Belly Releases New "Ambiance" Video Ahead of 'Mumble Rap 2' Album". The Source. Retrieved 5 May 2023.
  36. ^ Grant, Shawn (19 May 2023). "Belly Officially Releases New 'Mumble Rap 2' Album, Drops "Cocaine Spoon" Video with Rick Ross". The Source. Retrieved 19 May 2023.
  37. ^ Blueskye, Brian (30 July 2019). "Rapper Belly sues Coachella producer, security company alleging assault at 2018 festival". desertsun.com. Palm Springs Desert Sun. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  38. ^ "Rapper Belly Punched Repeatedly by Coachella Security During The Weeknd's Set". YouTube. Indio, California, USA: TMZ. 21 April 2018. Archived from the original on 21 August 2019. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  39. ^ "Rapper Belly Proposed to Dina Rabadi in Big Sur, California". www.insideweddings.com. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  40. ^ Mekkaoui, Meeran (12 September 2023). "GQ Exclusively Goes Inside Palestinian-Canadian Artist Belly's Star-Studded Wedding". GQ Middle East. Retrieved 23 September 2023.
  41. ^ "Oscars 2016: The complete list of winners and nominees". Los Angeles Times. 29 February 2016. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  42. ^ "Black Reel Awards '16 – Winners & Nominees". 20 February 2016. Archived from the original on 19 June 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
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