In 1998, both DMX and Nas made their silver screen debut in the cult classic crime drama, Belly, the tale of two criminals and their vastly different perspectives on the game of life and those around them. In addition to starring in the film, Nas also contributed to the story’s development as well as serving as narrator.
Speaking to Andre Harrell for REVOLT Music Talks, the Queensbridge representative detailed how his creative relationship with legendary director Hype Williams began. “He would tell me ideas about [Belly] while we was shooting some of my videos,” the rapper states. As early as 1996, Williams had shot the visuals for “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That),” “Street Dreams,” and its subsequent remix from Nas’ album It Was Written. “I just thought that was something that might come out a long time from now.”
Williams wouldn’t be recognized the way he is today if he wasn’t a man with a plan. “He definitely called me and said ‘Yo remember that thing I was telling you about at the last video? I got it done and I want to sit down and I want you to write it with me,’” Nas continued.
But Nas’ involvement in the film extended beyond a simple conversation between the director and himself. Sequences shown in the film serve as videos, in their own right, to some of the profound work heard on Illmatic, namely “One Love.” In addition to seeing some of his own stories brought to life with professional actors, his character Sincere is heavily influence by himself.
Belly featured a plethora of musicians, including T-Boz (of TLC), AZ, Louie Rankin, Sean Paul, and Method Man in various roles throughout the film. It was also notable for its usage of the Supreme language, which is spoken by multiple characters. A sequel, tentatively titled Beast, was rumored to be in production but nothing has since come to fruition.
You can catch the full conversation between Nas and Andre Harrell on 'Music Talks' Christmas Day at 9pm EST on REVOLT TV followed by the "Drink Champs" marathon at 10pm EST.