Belly The Revolution

Belly The Revolution

Like African-Americans, Arab immigrants have always felt disenfranchised. Many identify with rebellious artists like 2Pac. Writing from Beirut, I’m reminded of a trip to the local video store where I encountered a 2Pac documentary for every Bush exposé. More so, Palestinian youths are almost innately militant, which makes the title of Belly’s debut album, The Revolution, very appropriate. His West coast influences are palpable throughout, as is his East coast flow, with grimy, singsong choruses. Pro-Arabism is interspersed with pro-gangsterism, like in "Revolutionary,” an account of racist double standards. He drives his point home in the album’s highlight, "A History of Violence,” where he screams, "This is for the victims of the Middle East and Katrina!” "Ya Dunya,” an Arab nationalist’s anthem featuring an unnecessary hook by Massari, shows off Belly’s undeniable intelligence. Unfortunately his intelligence is undermined by hard attempts at commercialism like "Obsession,” in which he admits his love for marijuana as if he’s the first rapper to do so. This is also the case with "I’m The Man,” featuring Kurupt, "I Ain’t No Pimp” and about half of the album. These aren’t failures if you consider the mentality of the general hip-hop audience. If Belly resided in America and not Canada, he’d likely move a lot of units. But it seems counterproductive for Belly to water down his obvious talents and iconoclastic style for a more ubiquitous, commercial flavour. (CP)