Four years ago, 20-year old Raykeea Wilson heard her first rap song. Yep, that’s right. In 2008, this ridiculously talented MC who goes by the name Angel Haze (a combination name inspired by her favorite porn star Jenna Haze and her middle name, Angel, mind you) heard her first rap song. It wasn’t even a good song, so she claimed, “It was something stupid, like Young Joc.” Wait, what?
The Springfield, VA native grew up in an under-income military household that attended an extremely religious church, a place she now refers to as a “cult”. While the pastor threatened that if the family ever left, “God would kill the children”, her mother had the strength to leave when Angel was a teenager. Like mother, like daughter – seems like they’re both fighters. While Angel Haze wasn’t allowed to listen to music growing up, she was able to turn to poetry. As she mastered the art of poetics by mimicking the likes of Andrea Gibson and E.E. Cummings, she was urged by a friend to turn those poems into rap music. One thing lead to another, and this MC has two mixtapes under her belt, numerous features, critically acclaimed remix of Lil Wayne’s “6’7” and Kanye West’s “Theraflu” and recently performed at SOBs in New York.
The thing about Angel Haze is that she’s 100% unapologectic for anything she says or does, and as we’re starting to see more and more in this generation, the “I-don’t-give-a-fuck” attitude is what we’re thirsting for; “I’m like a Gatorade commercial, just replenishing this dehydrated place,” she once said. Maybe it’s a generational rebelution, but whatever it is, Angel Haze is one of the few female rappers who’s a part of this movement.
“I could’ve been signed, I been a buzz / but I was scared to show the world who I really was”
On the other hand, Angel Haze is still a young 20-year old woman who easily masks her insecurities in her music, something that could be missed if people don’t listen closely. These underlying insecurities are subtlety found in her words, her voice and the feelings that her music provokes, like her song “Starry Eyed” or more obvious, her cover of Drake’s “Look What You’ve Done”. Love, lost and fear are reoccurring themes in her music, especially on her Voice EP, but [sexual] relationships, joy and hope are also present.
“And my flow is Jesus’ sandals, treading across the water”
While she bodies Kanye and Jay’s “No Church in the Wild” and shows us that Nicki Minaj really ain’t shit over a “Roman’s Revenge” cover, it’s evident that this MC is a motha’ fuckin’ monster! Though, when exploring other genres like rock (i.e. “Fill Your Space”), Angel Haze does fall short – but most rappers do. Interchanging soft vocals, strong spoken word pieces and hard 16s, there’s very few faults in the delivery of her words and overall musical concepts.
“I learned young not to trust shit / so I’m sorry to the world if I’m not enough bitch”
Some media outlets are pegging her as the Native American bi-sexual rapper with ‘a lot of issues.’ Well, to be clean, she’s half Native American and said her ethnicity doesn’t have anything to do with her music, nor does her sexuality. As far as the ‘a lot of issues’ is concerned, I see her as every other young adolescent growing up in this silly society of ours. At the end of the day, these little characteristics don’t define her music, but rather lend themselves to a much greater musical dialogue.
“Fuck your break, fuck your suspension / put your foot up on that gas, drive until you don’t see no path / (Yeah) I said drive until your vision blurred / and let my voice tell our story, spoken word”
If there’s any one thing that Angel Haze reminds us of, it’s that poetry and hip-hop are one in the same. We don’t call them bars, cadences and lines for fun, this music is poetry. Spoken word, singing and spitting are three elements Angel intertwines to make her projects feel complete.
It’s truly safe to say that Angel Haze has the same captivating power and sensational music that Drake did when So Far Gone was released, which is ironic considering she’s spits over a lot his instrumentals. Maybe that’s strategic, but maybe it just works. The complexity of emotions layered throughout Angel’s music, whether that be laughter, love, hate, pain, joy or anger, are so naturally felt and even more effortlessly delivered. Angel Haze’s new EP, called Reservation will be released July 17th. It’ll be the first EP she’s releasing that will include all original production and probably a very pinnacle moment in her career that I’m excited to witness.