Angel Haze is ready for another fight. The Detroit rapper is charging up for the release of ‘Back To The Woods’, the mix tape follow-up to her 2013 debut ‘Dirty Gold’, set for release on September 14 .
If her entry into music was scarred with label politics, Twitter wars and Hollywood’s tabloid glare across her relationship with Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin’s daughter Ireland Baldwin, then her return is set to cut even deeper. “I got my middle finger up to white America for tryin’ to whitewash my blackness,” she spits on massive comeback drop ‘Impossible.’ Performed under the telling new moniker Babe Ruthless, its venomous attack sees Haze reclaim her spot as one of rap’s most promising new voices. A barrage of provocation, Haze continues the onslaught when we speak. From bad mushroom trips to corporate America’s ingrained racial stereotyping, she’s not going down quietly.
Tell us about your new name ‘Babe Ruthless’?
Angel Haze: “I’ve got a few different personalities inside of me. Babe Ruthless is just me when I’m uninhibited. I don’t care, I can say what I want. It’s all the raunchy ratchetness that I encompass. Imagine someone chaining a bear down and the bear breaking loose and just mauling your face off. That’s Babe Ruthless.”
The line “I got my middle finger up to white America for tryin’ to whitewash my blackness,” on ‘Impossible’ shook listeners up. In what way are you being whitewashed?
“I’m not being whitewashed anymore ‘cos I won’t let it happen. When I say, ‘I got my middle finger up to white America’ I’m talking corporate. I feel like the general population know that. There’s such disbelief in regards to racism and the different things the media perpetuate when it comes to people of colour and white people, you know? Little coloured kids don’t feel like they have the emotional spectrum that white kids have. It’s not a racism thing. It’s more like, I want people to understand that yes, I look weird as fuck. Yes, I’m a narcissistic fuck. Yes, I’ve fucked more bitches than your dad probably ever has in his entire life. But I’m allowed to be that person. You’re allowed to do that. You’re allowed to be whoever the fuck you want. You didn’t choose to be white. I didn’t choose to be black. But I am gonna choose to be who the fuck I am.”
What can we expect from ‘Back To The Woods’?
“I feel like with ‘Back To The Woods’ I need another introduction. It’s so far off from what ‘Dirty Gold’ was. You can turn that shit off. All my shit, back to back. Everything. I wasn’t really good as a rapper until, I feel like, now. I had potential but this record to me is like grabbing the bull by the horns and telling it, ‘Bitch, you’re my horse now’. You’re gonna do what I say and I’m gonna control you.”
The last time we spoke, you told us you were working on an all-singing album…
“Oh come on! You guys knew I was lying! Hahaha. Yea, I can sing my ass off. But I can also rap my ass off. Back then I was in a shitty label deal. I didn’t wanna perform. So anything I could do to steer away from that, I was doing. I was just being a dick saying that. When I wanted to be me, I wasn’t allowed to. When I wanted to be this version of myself it was too grubby, it was too raunchy, it was too much for people. So when I said I was going to be all singing, it was really just so I could get out of what I was into.”
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Was it a challenge to put this new version of yourself on record?
“What I did, well, I didn’t even do it on purpose. I fucked myself up. I did shrooms in the desert with my friend and lost all my emotional ability and I didn’t like who I was. Shrooms is a long-ass high. You can’t get out of it once you start. I was there like, ‘Ew, I hate you. You ugly. Blah blah blah. Whatever.’ And once I’d been through that journey I realised so much that I’ve been running and hiding from. And then I went and lost myself in my apartment for three months like a psychopath and made this record with TY Kayembe.”
Did you work with any other producers?
“There’s no other producers. Just us in my apartment for three months and we made an entire record. I’ve got some amazing crazy features that no-one’s gonna understand but I don’t want them on the actual record. I want everybody to be like, ‘Oh this is dope’. ‘Cos it’s a body of work by myself, you know? Then I’ll smack them in the fucking face with the features.”
What does ‘Back To The Woods’ mean?
“I was homeless, like, my whole life. First time I had a house was when I was 17 in Virginia, in the middle of the woods in Springfield. My mum is such a bitch. She used to get super mad at me for not wanting to be Christian and shit, and kick me out. The only place I’d have to sleep was the woods. I just went back. I hadn’t been home for like five years, since I left at like 19. And I went into the woods. And there’s a video of me on my Instagram going into the woods and you can just see it, in my fucking face. I just dropped everything there and since then my life has been totally different. I came to terms with a lot of shit.”
You’ve always been incredibly honest about the difficulties you went through growing up. The sexual abuse you faced when you were young was documented in your version of Eminem’s ‘Cleaning Out My Closet’ and you’ve openly spoken about escaping from the religious ‘cult’ you grew up in. What home truths do you tackle on ‘Back To The Woods’?
“I was going through a hell of a lot of emotional shit, crazy shit. I know it sounds like bullshit but really, ‘Back To The Woods’ came from a deep, dark desire not to go back home. And I’ve realised that everything that I do in my life really, is about not moving backwards. Even if I’m reflecting, I’m running away from something. So, I was in love with Ireland. I was. Most of it is about her. Most of it is about my mother. Most of it is about myself, my darkness and dependencies. And then there’s a lot of reckless shit on there.”
Your relationship with Ireland was heavily reported on. It even made the UK tabloid papers. What was that experience like for you?
“It’s weird. There’s a lot of hidden truths that you don’t really get, you know? I don’t like relationships with fucking other people who are in this industry. It’s invasive. Like, the way that people treat us. Especially women.”
Why? What needs to change?
“Just… every TV show I flick through it’s just the same female stereotypes over and over again. People need to understand that women are so different. They’re so different. They’re incredible and so monumental. You can’t put them in a box. Women created everything. If it wasn’t for your mum you wouldn’t be here, you dick. I feel like the appreciation for women in this day and age needs to go fucking up. And the expression they’re allowed to have needs to go way, way up. You know what I’m saying? I can’t take this shit anymore.”
Given that honesty is so important to you, how do you feel about the news surrounding Straight Outta Compton and the film’s omission of Dr Dre’s violence towards women? Should it have been included in the film?
“I feel like if a person has done something at any point in their life, and they wanna get all biographical and shit, they should at least admit to it. Even if he doesn’t feel like he did anything wrong, or he feels like that was a part of the culture or some shit, fine, everybody has a right to their own perspective. But if you hurt someone else, the least you can do is apologise and the best form of apology is honesty. Just say, ‘Fuck, this is what happened.’ And put it in the fucking movie. Who cares. Everybody knows about it. Everybody knows what happened.”
How are things between you and Azealia Banks these days?
“Me and her haven’t had two words for the past 50 years. But if I could go back, we probably would have just met up and fought. We both had each other’s numbers. ‘Cos there’s no reason for, between the two of us, thousands of little kids to see what went on. It looked like we wanted to eat each other. Like, I love fighting. But I don’t wanna be that person on Twitter, saying all this reckless shit hurting a million other people. That’s a responsibility. Same for males. If it’s gun talk, if it’s anything. Yo, there’s so many different ways that shit can be handled now. There’s so many times I wanna say shit on Twitter and I think, no, I’m gonna hit this person up and just text them ‘fight me’.”
Are there any musicians you do like?!
“Haha. I like Kendrick a lot. He’s the shit. I love the record, he’s a revolutionary. I listen to so much of his music and I’m so in awe of how honest he is and how vulnerable, but so aggressively toned. I fuck with that. And I really like Amy Winehouse still. She reminds me so much of myself. I’m into artists that make me feel like it’s OK to be who I am. Whether that’s depressed, dependent or fucked up.”