Exclusive: Angel Haze

Published on 26 March 2014

[S]ince her first EP was released online and she was snapped up by Universal, Angel Haze hasn’t been far from public consciousness, helped in no small part by her fresh approach to music and an unfettered willingness to speak the truth, no matter what. This approach was most evident in Angel’s reworking of Eminem’s ‘Cleaning Out My Closet’, a hard-hitting, moving account of sexual assault the rapper experienced as a child growing up raised under the Greater Apostolic Faith, which she has since described as being like ‘a cult’.

Critical acclaim has since followed Angel, as has controversy. A spat with fellow rapper Azealia Banks was well documented, leading the pair to be described as this generation’s Foxy Brown and Lil’ Kim, while in December Angel leaked her own debut album following disagreements with her record label. None of this has hurt the rapper’s credibility though, and with a big year in front of her we’re pretty sure Angel Haze is going to be just fine…

Hunger TV contributor Nickque Patterson caught up with Angel this month in London to talk hip-hop in fighting and the importance of strong female role models, and managed to get a little video exclusive in the process.

YOU HAVE HAD A LOT OF SUCCESS IN A SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME, HAT DO YOU THINK THE KEY TO THIS WAS?

I would say it’s probably the fact that I am an asshole and relentless in my pursuit in what I want from myself.

THE VIDEO FOR ‘A TRIBE CALLED RED’ HAS RECENTLY BEEN RELEASED AND FEATURES SOME MORE STRIPPED BACK RAPPING, WHICH IS SIMILAR TO YOUR EARLY STYLE. HAS THERE BEEN ANY MORE PRESSURE TO BE MORE MAINSTREAM WITH YOUR MORE RECENT WORK?

No not really I sort of just decided I wanted to make a melting pot of everything I loved about music, and that was the end product so it wasn’t really a conscious decision. It was also produced my by friends who are a Native American group called A Tribe Called Red, which added another element to the track.

HOW DO YOU FIND PERFORMING TO A US CROWD AS OPPOSED TO A UK ONE – DO PEOPLE INTERPRET YOUR MUSIC DIFFERENTLY DEPENDING ON THE COUNTRY?

I definitely feel this. In America it’s totally different, here you feel what you feel but if you don’t feel it that’s fine. I played at Heaven in London recently and witnessed the most crazy fans in my fucking life! It was sick! They went along with everything I asked. There was a point when all the lights in the room went off as I was going to the balcony and they didn’t know where to look and when the lights came back on they went absolutely ape shit. It was an amazing experience.

THERE TENDS TO BE A LOT OF IN-FIGHTING IN HIP-HOP, ESPECIALLY BETWEEN WOMEN. WHY DO YOU THINK THIS IS AND WHAT EFFECT DO YOU THINK IT HAS ON MUSIC?

I don’t see anyone the same way as I see myself. Pinning females against each other is because girls are more interesting than boys and I don’t agree with it, the civil rights movement wasn’t that long ago, it’s still hard for woman in music, especially hip-hop. Things can change though, some girls feel you have to be competitive, you have to be talking about how much better you are than other people but that is just all just total bullshit. We are individuals.

WHICH OTHER HIP HOP ARTISTS DO YOU RESPECT, AND WHO HAS HAD THE MOST PROFOUND EFFECT ON YOU MUSICALLY?

Kanye West, easy! Again because I’m a relentless asshole and I seem to gravitate to other similar people, I like how relentless he is and how he stays true to himself. Twelve years into a rap career and still being who you are and staying true to yourself is just amazing to me. I just really hope to make a piece of work as incredible as him one day.

YOU RECENTLY COLLABORATED WITH ONE OF OUR COVER STARS ELLIE GOULDING. HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?

We were literally just texting one day and I was doing a re-make of ‘Life Round Here’ and then I went into the studio and it was out the very next day. She is sweet to work with.

IS MIXING GENRES SOMETHING THAT YOU’RE KEEN TO EXPLORE MORE?

I’m actually keen to explore the entirety of other genres, as an evolving artist should be expected to. I don’t want anything I do to sound the same. I like things to sound entirely different, I feel like when I started rapping it was about the technicality first and foremost. I had no idea I was going to get this level of success or that fame would come from it, so now I’m just trying to perfect it and make it my craft and see how far I can take it in other realms.

WHICH WOMEN INSPIRE YOU?

So many woman inspire me in my life. I’ts hard to pick just one but recently Sia has been a massive inspiration to me. She is on my single and she talks about issues that show how self confident she is, and her bravery inspires me to do the same. It’s so important for society to recognise the power of women, I’m all for this new wave of feminism. Little girls need to know growing up that they can do what they want, they can be who they want. If they have more female role models like Beyonce and Adele they will grow up to be something and not just have to be some man’s arm candy.

WHAT ELSE HAVE YOU GOT COMING UP THIS YEAR?

Lots of different things, I’m working on new stuff and I’ve got a record with Bastille coming out soon followed by my own new shit after that. So much is happening already which I’m super stoked about, my life’s great man! I’m also playing Wireless festival the same day as Kanye! It’s important to stay focused on my work and just keep on going with it, you never know what’s next.