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Music Video Spotlight: “Battle Cry” by Angel Haze feat. Sia

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I’ve been following the work of rapper-singer Angel Haze since I checked out a few of her mixtapes in 2011. If you aren’t familiar with her, check out this Buzzfeed post I did about her using my real name.

The main thing I enjoy about the “Battle Cry” music video is that it shows how far she has come as a person.  In interviews and songs like “Cleanin Out My Closet”, she has spoken about a personal history that has included a religious “cult” and being sexually abused. Yet, this video and song shows that she has survived this and then some to become a strong person.

By giving this video an extremely personal touch, she has shown how humble she can be as a musician and a person. Before I saw this video and listened to this song many times, I worried she would pull the same superficial stunt she did for “Echelon (It’s My Way”). Instead,  she used  her personal history to create a music video that strengthens the song’s empowering message.

Written by Serena Zola

March 24, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Album Review: Dirty Gold (Explicit) by Angel Haze

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Dirty Gold, Angel Haze

Source: Wikipedia
Release Date: December 30th

Rapper-singer Angel Haze managed to make waves as an indie artist and YouTube poet for a few years, recording mixtapes with her own original songs and covers. Now, with the help of a major record label, her highly anticipated debut album has been released.

One of the strongest things about the album is its lyrics. Some of them are empowering anthems reminiscent of past original songs like “Sufferings First” and her cover of Mackelmore’s “Same Love”. “You gotta be the one difference in your life and turn it around” she raps in “A Tribe Called Red”. “So don’t get lost tonight, never let the ignorance cost your life” she says in the suicide prevention song “Angels and Airwaves”.

Besides empowerment, some of the songs are also confessional, introspective, and poetic. “Black Synagogue” discusses Haze’s thoughts on God, while “Black Dahlia” discusses her relationship with her mother. “April’s Fool” discusses love with beautiful spring imagery while “White Lily/White Lies” has a poignant metaphor for a young woman without self-respect.

In addition to the lyrics, the production of the album is very good. The beats are simple enough to convey a certain rhythm and tone in each song without drowning out Haze’s vocals and rapping or anyone else featured on the album.

With the exception of the tracks “Battle Cry”and “Black Synagogue”, Haze sings and raps on every track that has vocals. “Battle Cry” features vocals by Sia and “Black Synagogue” features vocals by Wynter Gordon. In addition, the track “Planes Fly” brings Haze’s sweet vocals center-stage and allows Haze to accompany herself  with rapping.

Also, a couple of songs allow Haze to speak for a few moments without a beat and bring out the YouTube poet. Finally, the R&B, rap, gospel, and pop influence on certain tracks demonstrates the diverse musical interests previously shown on Haze’s 30 Gold covers and freestyles.

The only flaws on the album are the inclusion of lines from Haze’s interviews at the beginning of certain songs and the track “Echelon (It’s My Way)” . Sometimes, the interview lines are unnecessary. Haze should let the music tell its story on its own instead of trying to explain it a little beforehand.

With “Echelon (It’s My Way)”, it seems out-of-place with the rest of the album. It is a personal celebratory anthem similar to the album’s first track “Sing About Me”, except it is more boastful. The track may be a good way to energize the crowd when performing live, but on the album it is just generic.

Overall, Dirty Gold is a great debut album that showcases Haze’s talent as a singer, rapper, and lyricist. Rap and pop fans alike will enjoy it.

Written by Serena Zola

January 4, 2014 at 1:41 PM

Angel Haze: My New P!nk?

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Warning: Some of the songs in this article contain explicit content

Until now, I thought I wasn’t a hip-hop kind of girl.  Then again, I also thought I wasn’t a pop music type until I discovered Pink’s music last year. Thanks to her, I realized that deep down there is a pop side to me in addition to the rock n’ roll side I’ve had since I was a teen. Now, I may also have a hip-hop side of me emerge.

Recently, I’ve come to respect and appreciate the music of up-and-coming female rapper Angel Haze. In late October, I heard my first Angel Haze song “Cleanin Out My Closet” and was blown away by the rawness of the lyrics even though I couldn’t relate to them. I had never seen anyone be so honest about sexual abuse in a song.

When I found out the song was from Angel Haze’s Classick Mixtape, I ended up looking up the lyrics to the songs on and listening to the ones that interested me.  While I only found one song I personally related to (“Song Cry”) and one song I liked as a person who appreciates good singing  (“Love of My Life” ), I still wanted to hear more from Angel Haze. Soon, I discovered Angel Haze’s other mixtape Reservation as well as unofficial songs via YouTube.

Some of the reasons I respect Angel Haze’s music are the same reasons why I’m a fan of P!nk. Both of these female musicians are true to themselves. They aren’t afraid to be real and vulnerable in some of their songs. In fact, the only reason I am not quite a fan of Angel Haze yet is that there is no clean version of her songs and I can’t find all of her songs’ lyrics online.

One last reason I like Angel Haze is that she seems to be full of surprises. When I did research on her, I read in a NY Times article that she  “wants to be an artist you cannot categorize at all”, that she wants to do songs in different genres. If she manages to do that, I will be one happy eclectic music listener. Another surprising thing is that she does poetry, spitting out words without a beat.

All I have left to say is that Angel Haze may be my new P!nk and she may have a new fan in the future.

Here is Angel Haze reciting an original poem, “If You’re Contemplating Suicide, This is For You”

Written by Serena Zola

November 21, 2012 at 8:23 PM

Book Review: After Tupac & D Foster

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  D Foster, Neeka, and Neeka’s best friend are known as Three The Hard Way. Together, they have a strong bond of friendship and a passion for the music of the rapper Tupac Shakur. For two years, Tupac helps the girls through their personal struggles. As time passes and things change, each of the girls are guided toward their Big Purpose.

One of the best aspects of the book is how the author conveys the impact of Tupac’s music on the characters. During vulnerable moments, D Foster explains to the girls how she connects to the music. These moments are raw because they are only observed by the characters themselves. They do a great job of showing how close the three girls are, making their friendship more tangible.

Another good way the author shows the impact of Tupac’s music is by relating Tupac’s life to the lives of the three girls and those around them. She connects the book to realistic things such as prejudice and the overall plight of young people. Furthermore, she shows how people can misjudge the music and how some people can be badly influenced by it.

Besides conveying the impact of music well, the book also has some well-developed the characters are. An example is the girl who is Neeka’s best friend. She is the brain in the group because she reads biographies. A unique thing about her is that she serves as the book’s narrator, but is never addressed by name. This makes the narrator’s experience universal. Also, the author is skilled at switching between the narrator’s inner thoughts and outer observations.

In addition to the character development, the unity between them is heartwarming. This goes not only for the main characters, but for the supporting characters as well. The latter members vary from adults, to parents, to older siblings. Together, the main and supporting characters form a loyal community. When the author shows how one person’s life affects everyone else, the loyalty is demonstrated.

Overall, this book was a great read. I recommend this book to any young black middle schooler, especially if they are a reluctant reader. Also, anyone who appreciates the music of Tupac Shakur or music in general should give this book a try.

Written by Serena Zola

June 25, 2012 at 7:47 PM

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