Dazed's ultimate guide to US creativity
As part of our States of Independence summer takeover, 50 American indie icons have volunteered to take the Dazed Pop Quiz; a quick-fire Q&A about what they love and loathe about life in the USA. Check back here every day for more from the series.
She’s been hailed as the original and irrepressible new voice in the world of female rap (and beyond). She’s spoken out about her experience of sexual abuse as a child, in her reworking of Eminem’s track "Cleaning Out My Closet". She is estranged from her family. She has voiced her opinion on US gun laws, most likely because her father died by reportedly shooting himself in the stomach. She has told of her experience growing up in the Greater Apostolic Faith, described as cult-like in its nature. She was not allowed to listen to music until her family left the church. Now, having previously dated men, she is in a lesbian relationship with Ireland Baldwin, the daughter of actor, Alec Baldwin. At the age of 22, you could say that Michigan-born Angel Haze has lived. And this, no doubt, is just the beginning.
Having supported Kanye West at London’s Wireless Festival last weekend, Haze is touring the UK. She spoke to Dazed while in London before heading to the studio to work on her new album, with hit maker producer Fraser T. Smith (responsible for smashes from Adele, Sam Smith and Ellie Goulding).
What three words define the States today?
Angel Haze: Fast, fun and fertile (because everyone’s pregnant right now).
Where did you grown up?
Angel Haze: I actually didn’t grow up anywhere. I was born in Michigan, and then I moved to California. Then I moved back to Michigan, then New York, New Jersey, then Pennsylvania, then Virginia and then a little bit of time in North Carolina. I spent a lot of time moving as a kid, but the most time I spent anywhere was Springfield, Virginia, and that’s the only place I genuinely consider home. I wish I could show you my old house – it was insane. Beautiful, rural and incredible. I want to buy that house, and stay in one spot, when I have kids.
What high school clique were you in?
Angel Haze: I’m not gonna lie, I was a loner in high school. But one of those loners who was extremely well known by everyone and was considered a bitch. It was only because I kept switching schools, and I just didn’t want to bother. In my 10th grade year, I stopped going to high school and started to be home schooled. I was one of those – extremely anti social.
Do you think that badass reputation you had influences and perhaps even aids your music career now, in the female hip hop world?
Angel Haze: It definitely influences my music. Everyone thinks I’m so mean. But I wouldn’t agree that you need to be that way. I view myself as a whole – as a musician – not as someone who is competing in that particular field. I’m not only a rapper, I’m also a singer. I think I can still be as nice and as gentle and as calm as I am and still make the music that I make.
Who gave you your first break?
Angel Haze: My old manager stalked me on the interweb, and I kept saying, “leave me alone, you’re weird”, but he was one of the guys that work for Echo Beat, one of the New York clubs that everyone plays. He asked me to come, and he threw me on stage, impromptu, and made me rap in front of everyone. I was so nervous. It was actually a night that Dom Kennedy was performing. And the rest was history.
Which living American do you most admire and why?
Angel Haze: Woah, that’s a tough one. I’m gonna go with Kanye West because I think he’s Jesus. He is like God to me, my own personal Jesus.
Do you feel tied to your US roots?
Angel Haze: Yes definitely, especially when I go around the world and realize that you guys don’t have chipotles that use Monteray Jack Cheese. I’m usually pretty screwed when it comes to travelling because I don’t eat anything at all, unless it’s a burger, and I feel sad about it. So my real American roots are tied to food. Fried bread tacos most remind me of my home growing up – it’s an Indian taco which they make on reservations and at pow wows. As a kid that’s all I really ate.
Is there anything that would make you leave America forever?
Angel Haze: Oh my god, yes. Our economy is totally crashing. I want to go to a place like Canada where you won’t die from being shot a million times because they have super tight gun monitors. And they have free health care, and our health care is shit. Ultimately, though, I think I would leave because I would want my kids, when I have them, to be cultured beyond the US. Travelling the world has taught me so much about how little I knew, just living inside of one bubble. Until last year, I thought that there was one person for everyone in the world. And then I realized that there is no such thing as soul mates. I’ve met so many different people who have taught me so much. You can fall in love anywhere and grow anywhere.
Whose face should be on the $100 bill?
Angel Haze: I would choose Alec Baldwin [father of Angel’s girlfriend, Ireland Baldwin]. He looks like he could have been a President.
Where would you recommend someone visit in the US?
Angel Haze: The World Trade Center site down in the financial district in New York. It’s so scary down there. It’s something you need to see in person. I used to live in that district, and you can feel everything down there. At night, it feels very eerie.
If you could change one thing about the US, what would it be?
Angel Haze: There’s a mental health problem in America. I only notice it because I live in downtown Los Angeles, and there are so many homeless people. You know Skid Row? Homes for these people to be looked after in are being closed down. I used to go down twice a week to bring them food. The best thing you can do is philanthropy, charity. That’s how you can make a change. Here in London, you look out for people more.
What is the difference between touring here and the US?
Angel Haze: In Europe everyone is fucking amped for the music. They love you and they love you relentlessly. Shows are like a big giant party. Kids in the US want to seem cooler. They come to the shows and just stand there looking at you. But I do like a bit of a challenge, so in America you really do have to win your crowd over in person, even when they love your music. As a performer you have to be just as good as you are a recording artist.
If you lost it all tomorrow, what would you do the day after?
Angel Haze: I have lost it all. Several times over. It makes you appreciate what you have. But you never lose music because you can keep making it all your life.
Does the American Dream still exist?
Angel Haze: Absolutely, it’s fast and it’s hard but it’s rad. I’m living the American dream all over the world.