Is Angel Haze Hip Hop's Next Big Thing?
A post that went up today on the blog This Must Be Pop looks at the question of who might be the next big female rapper, and receiving high marks in the "Hit Potential" category is one Angel Haze.
Who is Angel Haze? On her Facebook page (and elsewhere) Haze describes herself as "Native American, Trend Setting Veteran." Her debut, an "EP" (which, at 14 tracks, is not really an EP) called Reservation, was released in July and has been earning rave reviews from the hip hop cognoscenti. She tweets as @NativeRaeen and on her Instagram profile (username: raeenwahya) she describes herself as "Half&Half Like Arizona," but she hasn't to our knowledge given a specific tribal heritage.
Haze was born in Michigan and lived there until she was ten. Her family practiced the Apostolic faith, which she has termed a "cult." "My mom was like, 'Secular music is a way you can guarantee your space in hell'," she told The Guardian. "But when I got to 16 she let us do whatever we wanted."
Yet the intense religious upbringing also made her the person she is today. "Growing up [around that] has me preoccupied with greater divinities," she told the Village Voice. "Being as tortured as I was as a kid—how do I express this without sounding religiously conservative or outlandish? Most of my tragedy happens in my head. I don't know if I really believe in the concept of demons, but I've seen some shit. Growing up that way, it stains you, like, you got stains on your white cashmere sweater, and you hate yourself for it, but you can't bring yourself to throw it away because you love it that much. That's made me an introvert. [But] I ask questions about everything. My mom hates it."
Spin called Reservation "a scathing, heart-braising release" -- but you don't have to take their word for it. The entire album is available free at DJBooth.com. As for its title, most reports associate "reservation" with her Indian roots, but she offered a different -- or perhaps just another -- meaning in an interview with Billboard. "It's like when you go to a restaurant, you make a reservation," she said. "You know that when you get there, your table is going to be ready because at the end of the day, you called ahead and made sure it was yours. So for me, it's like that with the rap industry. I made my reservation there. I put my place there and now I'm finally arriving. They just have to sit next to me and watch me eat."
Confidence comes easy to her -- "I will say to anyone's face I am the best out there right now," she told the Guardian. But it would seem to be entirely justified as well; within weeks of Reservation's release, Haze had received offers from "every major label except Interscope," she told the Village Voice, and signed with Universal Republic.