Billboard interviews Belly to discuss Mumble Rap, JAY-Z, Trump’s travel ban & more
Toronto, ON – Belly seems to be busier than ever. Aside from feuding with B.o.B. on Twitter, and being featured in a Hip Hop Awards Cypher on tonight’s airing of the 2017 BET Hip Hop Awards, he’s working overtime promoting his new release.
He ended a brief hiatus last Thursday by stopping by Zane Lowe’s show on Beats 1 Radio (Apple Music). During his appearance on the show, he announced the imminent release of a new 11-track album called Mumble Rap (which means Glorious has been postponed or this it with a new title), and also revealed that Boi-1da was the project’s Executive Producer. Mumble Rap features a guest appearance by Pusha T (on the new single “Alcantara”) and is available on all major digital platforms. You can stream it below or click here to check out Belly’s new videos for “Mumble Rap” and “Lullaby.”
With Mumble Rap quickly being embraced by listeners, and Belly’s ever-building buzz and mysterious-nature being a point of intrigue for many music enthusiasts, Billboard wisely decided to put the Roc Nation artist in the hot seat for an in-depth story courtesy of writer Nerisha Penrose. They cover a range of great topics including Belly’s process for putting together Mumble Rap, the meaning behind the title, JAY-Z’s influence, the impact Trump’s travel ban has on him and more. You can find some excerpts of the story after the jump.
On Tuesday evening, The Weeknd tweeted at Belly about the project, calling it his “best work so far.”
Belly on Billboard
On Mumble Rap:
“I felt like the term was so disrespectful, because I love everything that the young generation is doing right now. I think they’re doing incredible things from music and culture to dress code. Everything is coming from their generation, so for us to downplay [them] and call them mumble rappers is like kind of fucking wack to me. Rap is supposed to change. It’s supposed to do new things. And that was my way of taking the word back.”
On working with Boi-1da:
“I needed to make sure that I put something out that first of all can express those dark moments that I felt — and second of all, I wanted to put something out to showcase me rapping, and I think [Mumble Rap] was the best way to do it. Technically, I finished in two sessions. Boi-1da came in and started playing me beats. Everything me and Boi-1da did was done in two sessions, which is about seven or eight joints.”
“It’s the most introspective record on there. I feel like as much as there’s a little pocket of people who do know me, there’s a whole bigger pocket that doesn’t and I want them to know me and understand who I am for real before making pre-judgments.”
On Trump’s travel ban:
“It affects me every day. Only my immediate family lives over here. My uncle lives in L.A., my mom, dad and sister all live back home now. My sister lives in Egypt, and my parents live in Jordan — so that means that anybody else from my family can’t come here. That, to me, is heartbreaking. If I want to celebrate something, if I want to get married and wanted to bring my extended family, I can’t even do it because they come from places that are ‘terrorist’ hubs or whatever words they want to use. But when a terrorist shoots up a crowd and he’s not Arabian, he’s a gunman or ‘lone wolf.'”
On JAY-Z’s influence:
It’s finally cool now, because for the first few times I was around Hov, I was a fucking bumbling idiot. The first time I met him, I actually told him, “Yo, don’t expect me to be smooth around you.” That was my idol growing up, and until now, he’s still the epitome of what a career should look like. I think that, to me, was a huge confidence booster. When I write rhymes, I pretend that he’s across the table ready to grade me, and it always kept me sharper.