Hip-hop is a genre that thrives on innovation and freshness. It’s the ultimate genre for the internet age, ever shifting in style and content with the zeitgeist. One byproduct of this is that the most innovative artists tend to become the most influential, be that with Kanye’s conscious early work, or Drake’s sing-rapping hybrid. These are both artists who banked their success on bold, new ideas, which were criticised at the time, and have both ended up at the top of hip-hop’s ladder. As such, artists who just try and stick to to mainstream formula tend to be left behind. Some of them will have a catchy single, or a good label deal, but few seem to be remembered throughout hip-hop history. Unfortunately, it seems that Belly is one such artist.
Associated with The Weeknd’s XO label, Belly has contributed to some great songs throughout his career, like Beyoncé’s 6 Inch this year, but his own material has always failed to catch on. He won a Juno Award back in 2008, but hasn’t really taken off since then, in spite of being so well connected. Listening to Inzombia, it’s not hard to figure out why: Belly makes competent, atmospheric trap-R&B, but it sounds so similar to so many other artists that it doesn’t stand out. Opener Die Alone could be a Travis Scott song with a little autotune. Frozen Water features Future (who is good, if unremarkable), and sounds just like a Future track. The only song that really stands out is Consuela, and that more due to a spirited performance from Young Thug than anything else.
Belly just doesn’t seem to have a grasp of how to make a track really stand out. His melodies are too sedate to be catchy, and his lyrics mine the same pedestrian territory as a thousand codeine rappers. The music is pleasant enough, and Inzombia lasts just the right length, but it doesn’t do enough to distinguish itself, and as such, is forgettable.