Review : Angel Haze - Reservation
PitchforkThe 20-year-old Angel Haze is just beginning to burrow her way up from the underground, yet she may be the perfect avatar for hip-hop in 2012. For one, it's hard to even call her a rapper; on Reservation, her first full-length to feature all original beats, she is as comfortable emulating Aaliyah as she is Foxy Brown. Like so many of rap's buzzing young internet stars of the moment, her background flies in the face of hip-hop's cultural bedrock: She grew up in the orbit of a Detroit-area church she has likened to a cult, and until her family fled when she was 16, Haze had little exposure to pop culture. Like Nicki Minaj, Azealia Banks, and Frank Ocean, her sexuality is vague (in her words: "I'm free spirited & I embrace gender-fluidity"), but it doesn't define her. Her music is deeply open, befitting someone just out of her teens who tweets and vlogs with no filter. The title Reservation-- and the small image of a tipi on its cover-- are a nod to her Native American heritage. But Haze is not just one of hip-hop's preeminent young faces; as Reservation readily displays, she's also one of its preeminent young voices.
Haze's ascension alongside (or in the shadow of) Banks will undoubtedly tie them together in a lot of minds, so it should be noted that they are very different artists. There are no theatrics with Haze, and her music and image (at least at the moment) have no intersection with the worlds of dance or high fashion. The cover of Reservation is telling-- just Haze, minimally dressed, in the midst of recording. The subtext is clear: What you see is what you get. While Banks is trying her hand at smoothing over the forced marriage of rap and dance music by introducing producers like Hudson Mohawke and Machinedrum, Haze is determinately whacking through the weeds of Young Money's rap kingdom. The ease with which she empties her brain while floating from rapping to singing recalls no one less than Lauryn Hill, but the mood and much of the sonics (as well her remixing a handful of his songs on previous mixtapes) suggest that Drake looms large. Her punchline- and simile-heavy rapping are purely latter-day Lil Wayne, except unlike this current incarnation of Weezy, Haze bites as hard as she barks. Even songs like "CHI (Need to Know)" and "Drop It" bring to mind Minaj's rap ballads if they were stripped of their focus grouped cynicism....full text
Consequenceofsound“I’m the master of ‘I don’t give a fuck,’” says Angel Haze in a self-made video on her YouTube channel, aptly titled “How To Give No Fucks”. It’s a kind of backhanded manifesto on self-respect; after all, as she says, the kind of blasé person that she is must “first accept that they are not shit.” In the same way that she presents this brash attitude to a world that might not know quite what to make of her yet, Haze makes no apologies for the emotions that she bares on Reservation, her debut EP. The offerings on Reservation belie her YouTube persona; only someone who gives at least several fucks could offer up something this personal, this diverse in its influences, and this polished. She talks a big game, but she raps an even better one.
The more you get to know Haze through her music, the more you realize she is full of these kinds of contradictions. When she sings, her voice sounds like a vulnerable young girl. When she raps, she’s androgynous — swift and powerful as any man or woman. “We seen a lot of shit that kids should never have to see, like the shelter, and every night we starved ourselves to sleep,” she tells us on “This Is Me”, the album’s opening track that is gut-wrenching in its honesty, lyricism, and emotional power. While Haze seems eager to prove that she’s just as capable and deft as a male rapper, which she is, it’s also heartening to see that she’s not afraid to use the medium to do more than brag about Escalades....full text
GuardianTwenty-year-old rapper Angel Haze tends to draw blood wherever she targets: she is as relentlessly raw when dissecting her own heart and brain as she is when verbally dismembering her enemies. On Reservation – the title of which nods to her native-American heritage – she fulfils the promise displayed on mixtapes such as 2011's Altered Ego. Her craft – lyrics, hooks and storytelling – has been tightened up without losing any of her intense intimacy. Entire worlds are at stake when Haze raps, whether she's penning dreamy love letters of cosmic scope to current and former girlfriends (Hot Like Fire, Gypsy Letters), piecing together her fractured life experiences (the emotionally draining closer, Smiles N Hearts), or rattling off scornful contempt over clattering beats (New York, Werkin' Girls). A childhood cult survivor, Haze peppers her lyrics with startling religious imagery – "I'm Satan, and Imma take your ass to church now," she drawls with relish; later, she muses that "this world isn't real, just a set I designed". The concept of realness underpins hip-hop; the fearless, whipsmart talent of Angel Haze brings you face-to-face with the resonant reality of it....full text
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