2012 seems to have been a tipping point for hip hop and rap music. For years, some of the biggest names in the genre like Snoop Dogg, Kanye West and Jay-Z have used homophobic lyrics, but a lot has changed since 2000 when Eminem rapped “Hate fags? The answer’s yes” in ‘Criminal’. A noticeable change occurred when Frank Ocean came out as being bisexual in a post on Tumblr in July, sparking artists like Jay-Z to suddenly stand up in support of gay marriage. Perhaps then, this is the perfect time for the “pansexual” Angel Haze to step forward.
Angel Haze isn’t really what you’d expect from a female rapper. Whilst Azealia Banks is getting in a little bit of trouble for a magazine cover involving a condom, Angel Haze is raping and killing people in her new video for ‘New York’ and takes her stage name from a combination of her middle name and her favourite porn star. It’s not really surprising that she’s so wild, after an unusual upbringing, growing up as part of the Greater Apostolic Faith, which Haze herself describes as “definitely a cult”. When she was 10, the family was ostracised from the church and she was forced to provide therapy for her family, with her mother convinced that Haze and her brother were going to be killed by God as a punishment.
But despite her strange childhood and circumstances, Angel Haze is one of the most impressive new rappers of the last few years. Her lyrics are brutally honest, and her production is thrillingly slick, which is especially surprising as all of her EPs, mixtapes and singles have been produced off her own back, without a record label. All of her music has been given away for free, including her most recent mixtape Reservation which has led to her signing a record deal with Universal. It’s not just me and Universal who thinks she’s good either. “I will say to anyone’s face I am the best out there right now” she recently told The Guardian. Maybe she’s cocky but she has reason to be.
On Reservation – which is her first full-length mixtape to only feature original tracks – she effortlessly glides between R&B ballads like ‘This Is Me’ in which she sings about her painful upbringing, to tracks like ‘Werkin’ Girls’ and ‘New York’ where she spits out filthy rhymes at a dizzying pace. A mix of these rapid, exciting numbers and more subdued tracks produces a sumptuous record, with world-class sounding production throughout.
Reservation can be downloaded for free here, but also check out some of her other mixtapes such as Voice EP which includes samples from Ellie Goulding and Watch The Throne. Hype around Angel Haze is growing and now that she’s been signed by Universal – one of the largest record companies in the world – she’s here to stay. Remember her name.
Angel Haze plays her first UK date on Monday 8th October at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London. Tickets can be bought here.
The video for ‘New York’ was directed by Adrienne Nicole