DETROIT – When Ahmad Balshe was seven years old, he fled war-torn Palestine with his family and settled in Ottawa, Canada. At age 10, his passion for hip-hop music surfaced and was enhanced by a love of poetry and creative writing. Today, at age 22, Balshe is referred to as “Belly” and is considered to be a “heavy-weight” in rap music.
“Music has no barriers. Music has no boundaries,” says Belly. He should know as he just came off a Canadian tour with rap megastars Snoop and Ice Cube. Some consider Belly to be one of Canada’s first gangsta rappers — and, now, he’ll take the U.S. by storm next week at the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN), entitled “Get Your Money Right” at the Max M. Fisher Music Center on April 14.
Former executive director of the NAACP, Dr. Benjamin Chavis, and recording mogul Russell Simmons founded HSAN in 2001. It is dedicated to harnessing the cultural relevance of hip-hop music to serve as a catalyst for education advocacy and other societal concerns fundamental to the well-being of at-risk youth throughout the United States. HSAN is a non-profit, non-partisan national coalition of hip-hop artists, entertainment industry leaders, education advocates, civil rights proponents and youth leaders united in the belief that hip-hop is an enormously influential agent for social change which must be responsibly and proactively utilized to fight the war on poverty and injustice.
Belly (a.k.a Rebellyus) was born to Palestinian parents in the city of Jenin, surrounded by war, violence, and atrocities no child should ever have to see. With the dangers of living in that country, his parents left when Belly was a baby and, for the next seven years, they lived in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan. While Belly cares a great deal about Palestine, Belly raps about the state of the world. “Who cares what your religion is? There’s people living in a world full of hate, hunger, war and missing kids. Where we living, we privileged. Believe me, there’s no reason anyone should feel limited…”
The title sponsor and partner of the Hip-Hop Summit is Chrysler Financial and the presenting sponsor is Anheuser-Busch, Inc. The Hip-Hop Summit on Financial Empowerment’s “Get Your Money Right” National Tour, now in its third successful year, brings together the powerful combination of hip-hop stars and Chrysler Financial experts to speak to students and community members about the importance of financial literacy.
Joining Co-Chairmen Russell Simmons and Dr. Benjamin Chavis in Detroit will be Layzie Bone and Krayzie Bone of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Mike Jones, Remy Ma, Raz-B, Belly, Trick Trick and Congresswoman Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI). Hip-hop television personality, Free, will co-moderate the Summit with Dr. Chavis.
“Detroit is one of the strongest hubs of hip-hop in the nation,” declared Dr. Chavis. “Under the leadership of Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Detroit is not only on the rebound, it is on the rebuild. We are rebuilding communities, families and key to this rebuilding is financial empowerment.”
The 2007 “Get Your Money Right” tour will make five more stops including Toronto, Ontario on August 18; Greensboro, N.C., September 8; Washington, D.C., September 29; Miami, Fla., October 20; and Atlanta, Ga., November 3.
The Hip-Hop Summit will be held at the Max M. Fisher Music Center, located at 3711 Woodward Avenue in Detroit. The program takes place from 1:30-4 p.m. Doors open at noon. Tickets for the Detroit Summit on Financial Empowerment are free and available at www.hsan.org.
Belly, who was born in the Middle East to Palestinian parents, went to Canada with his family at age seven. Rap music was an early influence thanks to his older brother’s albums. While Belly cares a great deal about Palestine, he raps about the state of the world. “Who cares what your religion is? There’s people living in a world full of hate, hunger, war and missing kids….
|Ahmad Balshe aka (Belly)|