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You Can’t Be Like Angel Haze

You Can’t Be Like Angel Haze

Raw Girl Power

By Beverly Bryan
July 20, 2011

Listening to Angel Haze is effortless. It’s because she makes what she does — rap extremely well — seem effortless. She makes it seem like you could do it. But you can’t.

You can’t rhyme about life like she does. Or tell stories in such a way that the listener forgets they are even listening to a song and not just the most riveting story they’ve ever heard. It’s not possible to listen to her and simultaneously reflect on her prodigious talent or the astonishing speed with which she doles out pieces of her mind. When she speeds up you’re just hanging on her every word faster, because, unless you have a debilitating attention problem, you are not thinking about anything when she is talking. You are listening to the lady.

She’s not showing off when she breaks the sound barrier like that. She’s just got a lot that she needs you to hear and life is short. The 20 year-old who identifies as bisexual and Native American has had the kind of experiences in life that lead to an out-of-the-ordinary perspective. Don’t stop her, because you haven’t heard this one.

But it’s this unsigned artist’s ability to deflect your attention from how good she is that marks her as a world class emcee. A master’s power is unobtrusive — insidious even. She can make claims (“I’m putting all your careers in a custom made coffin.”) and back them up instantaneously and with such smooth handling that you don’t have time to question her assertions –no matter how dramatic.

For instance, Angel Haze is the self-proclaimed “Justice League to hip hop,” meaning she has multifarious powers. Her latest mixtape King showcases such a scintillating variety of flow that it kind of crushes any argument you might want to mount about that. It also shows off her fine singing voice, samples Jai Paul, rescues the love rap from the bin of dusty cliches, and, with “The Show Goes On,” it might just give you a reason to go on living. There hasn’t been one like that in a while.

In particular, because King is about things. Haze is not ransacking the thesaurus and remixing pop culture references like hip hop is some kind of post-modern Scrabble game.  The notable exception is “Jungle Fever,” where she remixes Das Racist and matches them bar for bar in hypnagogic deluge. But, most of the time, she is discussing waking life in the manner of a very old head, like: “How do you make a difference and still say the same?” A very astute question.

Here’s another one. What was the big deal about Odd Future again?


Image Courtesy of Angel Haze.

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