Angel Haze doesn’t usually celebrate Thanksgiving — “My family does not celebrate Thanksgiving. No Way. They’re total not down for that” — but a year of incredible output and ascendence, she’s “kind of setting up new traditions for myself,” she tells The Fader. It’s been a little more than a year since we first downloaded her impressive mixtape King, and since then we too have set up new traditions for ourselves in terms of what rap can be and should do.
The 21-year-old, Michigan-born and Virginia-raised Native American rapper wasn’t allowed to listen to much music growing, and so she wrote poems. And when it came time to set her lyrics to beat, without much knowledge of the rules, she went her own way. Most of the time she does this through rhymes dense and dexterous, but because she spent her formative years listening to artists like Jason Mraz and Christina Aguilera than rap, she’s recast the rules of rap (rules not historically in favor of young women) so that they could lend power to her already impressive rhymes. Sometimes this newbie stance has her taking swipes, jacking other’s beats in order to implicate a sloppy song (her go at Lupe Fiasco’s “Bitch Bad” is worthy). She’s got demons to work through — “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” is a particularly harrowing tale of sexual abuse she suffered as a kid — and dreams to claim, and she’s not letting the rules of hip hop and particularly those for women in hip hop crimp her style.