Written By: Fletcher Bonin
Angel Haze’s latest album ‘Back to the Woods’ is equal parts battle hymn and soulful prophecy. This 2015 release bears thirteen tracks of pure emotion and energy. The first track ‘The Woods’ is a reverb of the title itself. It begins with Haze, whose given name is Raeen Rose Wilson, speaking rather than singing. She talks about going back home to the trees and nature. This is the mood of the whole album, this going home, getting back to her roots, revealing her true self. She accomplishes this via both angry rap tracks and powerfully, painfully sung tracks. She switches between the two modems seemingly effortlessly, channeling different energies to imbue her music with different character.
The song ‘D-Day’ is strong and bitter, Haze biting into every word as she spits “get it now while you young cuz you need it.” The cleverly titled ‘Babe Ruthless’ is and equally fierce track, Haze proclaiming “you ain’t a homie, you ain’t no friend to me.” It must be said, too, that the hook on this track is especially good, dripping with the same confidence and force of her flow. On the track ‘Gods’ Angel Haze changes tack and shows off her range, her vocals soaring powerfully as she sings “I was battling secrets obsessed with the dead.” What I find interesting and even masterful about Haze is that she is so clearly able to both sing and rap over beats that are generally similar. All the tracks on the album feature her signature, hard hitting, chopped backbeats reminiscent of those currently popular in Chicago’s trap rap scene. And yet the difference comes in her vocals and lyrics. Haze’s real talent is this unique ability to sing her laments and rage just as well as she can rap them, all over the same style of beat.
One track I found especially worthy of discussion was ‘Dark Places’. This song will take you to exactly that – dark places. This mournful tune is deeply beautiful, and when Haze sings “I feel like a wandering soul with no place in this world” you will be transported to a sedate world. All the songs off this album are honest, meaningful and often mysterious. Her lyrics are cliché free and her energetic style imbues the whole album with the passion she brings to the mic. If you are looking to listen to something truly different, check out Back to the Woods.