Angel Haze is making waves. Her dizzyingly quick flow and superb wordplay take us further than any other female rapper right now. Brought up in a cult, Haze didn’t listen to music until the age of 15. After being bullied at school, she left and began recording videos in her bedroom to become an internet star. Her unique upbringing feeds into her lyrical content which in turn lends her tracks an edge which is raw and real and completely unlike the hyper-stylised Nicki Minaj.
Of course, she also fronts it out in tracks like ‘New York’. In her own words: “Angel Haze was born on September 8th of 2010 as a rude, bitchy little brat”. Demanding to be heard, she dissects the world around her with simple, smart beats and lyrics that hit you in the jaw.
Your video for ‘Werkin Girls’ has just come out – what’s the response to the video been like?
There are a lot of misinterpretations going around about what the video is about, like it’s a comment on human trafficking but it’s more about how I like Freddie Kreuger and Halloween. It’s fun to see it get so much attention though! I can’t write a sunshiney Mika type of video. I have a really dark mind, a lot of people misinterpret that for satanic or Illuminati but people are always going to speculate. It’s down to you to sit there and know what you really meant.
When you perform do you stick to more fast tracks or do you slip in some of the softer stuff like ‘Heart’?
I’m really into creative writing as a whole – for me to do a song it’s almost like a painting and my brain is the palette. When I write poetry it’s always really intricate, I submit most to my emotions and it’s different from when I do regular brag-boast bullshit. It all depends on the crowd for me, the setting and the environment. When I do shows that are 90 minutes long, I’ll be the artist that they know me as. I mean, some people come out to get super hyped not to hear about my sad ass life… they’d be like ‘get this bitch off the stage’.
With some of the tracks on the mix tapes you could almost listen without the beats.
That’s what I want it to be! I feel like lyricism is really an important part of music as a whole. If you take away some of the beats from these pop songs and listen to then you wonder ‘What’s this dumb shit I’m listening too’ but you sing along because the beat is nice and the hook is great. I want my music to always mean something.
Do you think people are fed what they should listen to? Are you trying to change that?
In America you pay $20,000 for two weeks of spins [on the radio] and then it gets popular. So, shit clouds the airwaves and you don’t want to be popular in the US because everyone just says ‘Oh, your label paid for this, you’re just a mainstream douche-bag’.
Do you feel then, with that kind of atmosphere in the American music industry, that you have to enter into that rap ‘game’?
The industry I’m in works in a competitive way – everyone wants to be the best. For me I just feel ‘Well, you know I’m fucking better than you’, I’m not directing it to anyone in particular. A lot of the tastemakers are that way because they stuck to their guns and I don’t want to sell out. It’s important for me to make my own lane and occupy it.
How does it feel to be covered or remixed yourself? That Jamie XX/ Gil Scott Heron 83rd remix really changes up the tempo of ‘New York’ – are you okay with that?
I think it’s cool when people remix my stuff. It kind of gives me insight to how many people I’m reaching and how they react to the songs. The only thing that bothers me is when these fake fucks tweet like ‘***Official New York remix featuring Angel Haze***’.
You have that line ‘Sorry if I’m not bitch enough for you’- what do you mean by that? Where do you think your strength comes from?
I guess with that I meant ‘I’m sorry if I’m not soft enough for you’. In the way that little girls cry over bruised knees but I stand up and put a fucking band-aid on and move on. You don’t have to be ultra-femme. I will never let anyone make me feel bad about the strength that I believe that I have. I’ve never really spoken to anyone about [my childhood] in its entirety and people just make shit up. I’ll sit down one day with Oprah on her network and explain my whole entire life to her. It might come and bite my ass but whatever. I get a lot of fans who tweet me ‘You’ve brought me out of so many dark places’. I want that impact throughout my career.
Listen to the Reservation mix tape here whenitraeens.com