Belly On His New Album, Working Out of His Depression and Collaborating With The Weeknd

And you’re engaged now. Congratulations!

My fiance, Dina, that’s my best friend. She really changed my life in so many ways for the better. She’s always there to help me understand, health-wise, how things affect me and how they could affect my body. It’s helped me come through a lot of stuff. I quit drinking hard liquor. I used to drink a bottle of hard liquor a day. Now I may have a glass of wine with dinner. That’s about it. I quit all my hard drugs, no more pills, that’s out the window now. She showed me the reality of what I was doing to myself. And I made the choice to stop because she’s always been there to make my life better. I love her.

So you’re from Jenin, in the Palestinian West Bank. What is it that you want to tell people about Palestine, and the humanity of Palestinians?

Well, in general, Palestinians are some of the most beautiful people I know, inside and out. Resilient, hard working, smart. You know, at one point, Palestine was the most educated region in the world per capita. It’s a beautiful culture that I can’t wait for the world to find out more about, and learn more about. Once we’re able to get into a situation of at least equity and equality. I think once we get to that place, the world is going to learn about the the beauty and the resilience of the Palestinian people.

I think the tide is turning on the conflict and how people view it. More people are becoming pro-Palestine. Do you think so?

Well, if you notice, I don’t talk about the conflict anymore. I did early on when this thing started, but I refuse to speak about the conflicts anymore, I would rather highlight the great things about my people. I’d rather people understand that there’s real humans there, that you guys are putting a conflict in the context of something that doesn’t involve humanity, it’s just a chess game, to a lot of people that are looking at it. And it’s not just that there’s real humans there. They’re really, actually great people. They just want to live, they want to go to school, they want to work, they want to make something of themselves, they want to have a home that they have security living in—these are human beings, you know what I mean? And I think the media fails by not showing people that this is much more than just some conflict that we’ve been writing about for the last sixty or seventy years. These are human beings on the ground, children, women, people with dreams and aspirations, just like you and me. I think once people start to realize that, you know, the types can officially change.

What does Allah mean to you?

Yeah. When I was young, I was always taught that you can learn something from every religion, and to never use your religion or someone else’s religion to differentiate from somebody else. And I’m always like that. I’m open to learning from everybody. I still preach that to all my homies still.

DJ Drama had a kind of renaissance because of the Tyler record. You released a tape with Drama way back. What was that like? You got any Drama stories?

Yeah, I was the first person to bring Drama to Canada. I put them in one of the videos that we were shooting at that time. I might have been the first Canadian artist to have—not to sound like Soulja Boy—but I might have been one of the first Canadian artists, if not the first, to have a DJ Drama mixtape.

Do you remember what it was like when he was in Canada?

Too crazy to tell. I have to tell my grandkids one day. That’s how crazy it was.

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