Angel Haze and Nicki Minaj may share a noticeably nasally delivery and a love for really fast flows, but Haze’s possesses a genuine roughness compared to Nicki’s “real bitch” attitude. Her latest EP, Classick, almost entirely capitalizes itself on this unabashed quality and makes the project worth a mention more than it injures its outcome.
The last track, her gory rendition of Eminem’s “Cleaning Out My Closet,” nails the head on the project’s motto. Haze dispenses the gruesome tale of her persistent sexual abuse and rape as a child, with no hook to cut between the horrid affair.
Her rhymes are succinct her approach ranging from exasperated to melancholy, but her cathartic poem unflinchingly moves on. Its also one of the few times a person can take on an Eminem beat and bring its intent to a much graver place.
Every other song on here also pits Haze against another signature beat; standouts include “Bitch Bad,” which tackles the song in a way that outshine’s Lupe Fiasco’s generally middle class “oh no don’t use the word wrong” aesthetic, Missy Elliot’s “Gossip Folks,” an inflamed slice of braggadocio, and “Doo Wop (That Thing),” a slightly updated version of Lauryn Hill’s female warning.
Most tracks on Classick pass when focusing solely on Haze’s lyrics and intent. She’s a talented lyricist who gets in a pocket and makes it work perfectly: “So he treats her like a/beats her like a/cleans her up and keeps her like a/screams and yells and sees her like a – like a bitch…” In fact, a better rapper with the same physical torment may retell the years of abuse with elephantine vocabulary and a volume of notations on Rap Genius, but her matter-of-fact presentation and release of emotion provide listeners with an enthralling testimony.
She does fall short as a singer, however. “Love Of My Life,” while bumpable for its “Xxplosive”-esque rhythm, has some pitching issues that need work. And the traditionally sung adlibs on “Doo Wop (That Thing)” can truly mar the solid message she bestows. Its comforting that Haze knows her limitations, as she jokingly backs away from the sung hook tailing “Bitch Bad”: “I can’t do that part, fuck it (laughs).” But um… yeah its not easy to listen to.
Angel Haze truly strikes me as a real woman, though. Classick never veers off into a questionable mind state, and aside from the singing issues and the contextual difference between tracks one and two, its a solid look at an artist in hustle mode. She also strikes as a person willing to break barriers; that’s much needed in a genre which holds a lopsided concept of the opposite sex, and the fact that she used the medium to address its vile, misogynistic outreach and her personal account with sexual abuse is enlightening.