The one and only Angel Haze.
When Angel Haze’s label wouldn’t release her debut album, Dirty Gold, she leaked it. When her mother told her she couldn’t listen to music, she went outside and waited for cars to drive by with the radio turned up. When society told her to pick a side and date either men or women, she picked no side and loved everyone.
Angel Haze does what she wants. Lucky for us, what the 22-year-old rapper wants most of all is to talk about stuff that really matters. Rather than go the booty droppin’, molly poppin’ route of some of her peers, her recent collabo with Sia, “Battle Cry,” touches on sensitive subjects like child abuse, depression and self-harm — all things she’s overcome in her life.
She’s even stronger than she looks.
“It was crazy because I didn’t know that Sia even knew I existed,” Haze told me over the phone. Her effortless sense of humility first shined through when she apologized for having a raspy voice at the start of our conversation.
Angel wrote and recorded the rap on “Battle Cry” in less than two hours. Mind you, she’s only been allowed to listen to music for a few years. Peep the video below, then check out our chat with Angel, which covers everything from her battle with anorexia to how much she loves “A Walk to Remember.”
“Promise not to laugh?” she asked, before admitting to loving a Mandy Moore rom-com. We’re not laughing at anything, Angel. Except for at how shallow “Battle Cry” makes most other songs on the radio sound.
+ Watch Angel Haze’s “Battle Cry.”
ACT: Was the “Battle Cry” video your vision? Was it hard to film something that hit so close to home?
ANGEL: You wanna know something funny? The video was my vision, but I totally forgot that it was my life that I was reliving until the day of the shoot. I got onto set and was immediately shattered. It brought back memories of darker days, but it’s a story I have to tell because I owe it to people who are still in the dark to show them the light at the end of the tunnel. I saw the light, and so can they.
On the video set for “Battle Cry.”
ACT: The video touches on issues such as child abuse, self-harm and depression. Can you talk about your experiences with these things?
ANGEL: The video runs through a range of real-life demons. Molestation, child abuse, religious abuse and manipulation, self-harm. But it’s not a sad story. It’s a story of being triumphant and overcoming them all.
I’ve dealt with all of the things you see in my video, which lead me to being anorexic for many years and suicidal as a teen. “Battle Cry” is a shout into the void and a testament to everyone going through s–t who feels like they can’t get through it. I want people to know my story and see that, no matter what you go through, nothing can stop you from achieving your dreams.
She gives a voice for the voiceless.
ACT: You list Child Helpline International as a resource in your video’s description. Why’d you pick this organization?
ANGEL: When I was 14, I realized that my struggle with anorexia was real. I called a helpline and was asked to leave a message, but nobody got back to me. I wanted to find the best outreach program for kids — one that really cares and is always responsive. In my opinion, that’s Child Helpline International.
ACT: How was it growing up in the Pentecostal Greater Apostolic Faith, in which you’re not allowed to listen to music?
ANGEL: As a kid, the only music I heard was at church and from cars passing by. One of my most vivid memories of hearing popular music for the first time was when I was 9, living in New York, and a car drove by playing Nelly’s “Hot in Here.” A far cry from “His Eye Is on the Sparrow.”
ACT: When were you first able to listen to popular music without any consequences, and what were your favorite songs?
ANGEL: When I was 16, my mom was like, “Fine, go ahead, listen to what you want.” When I first started listening to music, I looked up songs from movies I liked. Promise not to laugh at me when I tell you what my favorite is? “A Walk to Remember.” That’ movie’s the s–t. And the first song I ever looked up was “Someday We’ll Know,” by the New Radicals. Few things other than music are capable of conveying the entirety of who you are as a person so effortlessly. Music is still relatively new to me, so I never get tired of it, and I never wanna turn it off.
ACT: What made you decide to pursue music?
ANGEL: I was about 19, and it came by way of just practicing so much. When I turned 20, I met this guy who was stalking me on the Internet who was a manager. He threw me on stage at SOBs, I started rapping, and I knew then and there that I wanted to do this every day.
Haze is based in NYC.
ACT: You describe yourself as “pansexual.” Have you always felt that way?
ANGEL: It took a long time for me to come to terms with the fact that I was open to anything. Ultimately the testament to whether or not I love someone is if they can teach me more about life, and make me very appreciative of the fact that I know them. I also like really innocent eyes and a really pretty smile.
ACT: What’s next for you, music-wise?
ANGEL: I’m doing a bunch of festivals this summer. Other than that, I’m just living and starting on my second album.
ACT: Lastly, what advice do you have for young people experiencing any of the struggles you’ve overcome in your lifetime, from abuse to coming out.
ANGEL: Like I said, there’s such a light — a feeling of resilience and bravery and, just, power, when you get through it. You just have to get through it, and not be afraid to call out for help if you can’t make the journey alone.
Stunning inside and out.
Child Helpline International
Check out Child Helpline International if you or someone you know needs help dealing with real-life issues.
Half Of Us
Learn more about eating disorders and how to get support or help a friend with it.