Some are calling Haze the “most important rapper of 2013,” in reclaiming the Macklemore/Ryan Lewis song (notably featuring a defining refrain by Mary Lambert). As Flavorwire puts it:
“There’s been something quietly remarkable happening on Soundcloud over the last couple of weeks. In the lead-up to the release of her debut album Dirty Gold, Angel Haze has been releasing a freestyle a day, setting her coruscating raps over a series of beats borrowed from notable contemporaries: Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead,” Jay-Z’s “Tom Ford,” and Drake’s “Worst Behavior,” among others. Pretty much all of the tracks she’s released so far have been worth hearing, but yesterday, she delivered the best yet: a deeply personal reinterpretation of Macklemore’s “Same Love” that discusses her own history and sexuality.
“Angel Haze’s version of “Same Love” is the most powerful and moving rap released since… well, since she last discussed her personal history, on a harrowing reworking of Eminem’s “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” last year. This new track also discusses her childhood, and specifically her mother’s reaction to her sexuality (“At age 13 my mother knew I wasn’t straight/ She didn’t understand but she had so much to say/ She sat me on the couch looked me straight in my face/ And said you’ll burn in hell or probably die of AIDS”), before moving to a more general examination of homophobia and prejudice.
“It’s both honest and genuinely moving, even for an artist whose music has an entirely deserved reputation for being both of these things. It’s filled with concise lyrical insight (“You’re driven by your choice is an optical illusion/ Here’s to understanding that it’s not always confusion”), fueled by both rage (“Fuck your religion/ Fuck constitutions/ Fuck superstitions/ There are no lakes of fire, we’re here on earth”) and compassion (“I stand/ For the boy who died by his hand/ To the sound of his father screaming, ‘Woman loves man’”). On the whole, it comes across as a very, very real version of what plastic anthems like “Born This Way” or the original “Same Love” wish they might have been.
“And, remarkably, it finishes by borrowing some lines from Andrea Gibson’s poem “Andrew,” lines that discuss the fluidity of sexuality and the generally pointless nature of arbitrary labels: “No, I am not gay/ No, I am not straight/ And I’m sure as hell not bisexual, damn it/ I am whoever I am when I am it/ Loving whoever you are when the stars shine/ And being whoever you be when the sun rises.”