Words with Belly.
Real Name: Ahmad Balshe
Hometown: Ottawa, Toronto and Miami
Influences: The Weeknd, Kanye West, Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa
Who He’s Down With: Juicy J, The Weeknd, XO Gang, French Montana
You’ve traveled quite a bit and have recorded with several big artists, including Snoop Dogg, Drake and Ice Cube. What do you think have been the pros and cons of being from Canada?
Borders don’t really exist to me when it comes to music. In terms of making good music, you could be from anywhere. We don’t have some of the resources that there are in the States, especially in terms of radio and TV support. It’s harder to get on radio and TV with hip-hop records in Canada. That’s probably the biggest con. The bigger pro right now is that everybody’s looking up north to see what’s coming next and what’s going on. Drake was a big part of that, and there’s a lot of artists coming out of Canada in all forms of entertainment. I just think Canada is creating some amazing talent.
Why did you decide to not appear in the clip for your video for “Losing My Religion”?
That’s something that I’ve been adamant about with my upcoming album and with my new mixtape, “The Greatest Dream I Never Had.” I don’t rap in any of the videos and I don’t appear prominently in any of the videos. I look at these songs like I’m scoring movies and I don’t necessarily want to be a character in every one of those visions that I have for one of my songs. Sometimes what I envision in my head doesn’t involve me, so I’m not just going to stick myself in there. It doesn’t make any sense.
That being said and given that it’s so hard for an artist to get noticed and to gain exposure, how do you think that impacts your branding and your visibility?
I’m not concerned with my own visibility. I want my music to be heard. That’s what I’m most concerned about. The visuals that I present my music with, I want them to make sense to what the music is saying and the emotion I felt when I was making that music. So, that doesn’t mean that I have to be in every video. It’s redundant. Every rap video, somebody’s in your face rapping. I wanted to take it away from that and give people actual pieces of art to watch while you listen to the music. I wouldn’t compromise my vision of what I’m trying to do right now just for visibility.