Angel Haze Created a Voice in Hip-Hop Through Self-Acceptance and by Trusting the Nature of the Universe

Since breaking onto the scene in 2012 with the mixtape Classick, rapper and singer Angel Haze has become a force to be reckoned with.

The 23-year-old Detroit native — who identifies as agender, and prefers the use of gender-neutral pronouns — released their latest project, Back to the Woods, on September 14, further establishing Haze as one of the most prominent new voices in hip-hop.

The 13-track collaboration, single-handedly produced by TK Kayembe, reaches deep into the origin of their struggles, triumphs and confronting life’s demons face-to-face, including vulnerability and pain. And Haze has no hesitations admitting that they have some serious issues. The result? Music that comes together the way poetry does. Themes of extreme highs and lows, isolation and love. This probably has a lot to do with how they were raised — reading the verses of literary master Edgar Allan Poe.

Angel Haze is one of the industry’s most outspoken MC’s, a raw talent with no plans of slowing down.

Recently, we had the chance to catch up with them regarding their current Back to the Woods Tour, the music, and life in general. The international leg of the tour kicks off in Tokyo, Japan, on December 4.

FTK: Obviously, Back to the Woods is an incredibly personal record. What caused you to be so open and unapologetic about who you are and what experiences you have gone through in your life?
Angel Haze
: Self-acceptance. I’m comfortable with myself and I’m going to be myself at all costs. I was yearning to be something and I chased it.

What’s your connection with the woods and/or nature, and how did it influence the making of this record?
Nature is the only truth we have. We know that God makes the rain and the sun and everything coexists in the world. I trust myself and the nature of the universe.

What do you expect listeners to take away from the music?
I am who I am. I don’t really think about how other people react to my music. I create the music for myself. I’m making it for me to feel safe in this world. I don’t care what anyone thinks of me.

Can you touch upon your writing process, your creative flow?
Usually I don’t write. I don’t have any lyric sheets. I just feel the music. TK and I will sit in a room, usually fucked up, and he’ll ask how I feel and before you know it…we’re making stuff. He’ll start producing and I’ll start singing.

Most relevant childhood memory in regards to your art, in regards to your perspective on life?
When I was 9, I started reading Edgar Allan Poe poetry. When I was 11, I started writing my own poetry, and when I was 13, I had my first poem published and that’s what influenced everything. If that didn’t happen, I wouldn’t know that I was capable of doing this.

Which destination/venue are you most amped about for your upcoming international tour?
Detroit and Stockholm because one is home and the other is my favorite place to be. I haven’t been to Detroit since I was 9 so I’m scared as shit, but I’m excited to be going back.

What would you say has been the greatest struggle you’ve faced in the industry so far? How did you manage to break through those walls?
Maintaining myself. Self-preservation is really hard in an industry that focuses on perfection. If you have to create that, you have to destroy yourself .

What about your triumphs?
I made the record I’ve always wanted to make. Always wanted to do my own shit and I’m doing it and no one can stop me.

If someone could live a day in the life of Angel Haze, what would they come to realize?
I’m so fucked up but I think they would have fun. They’d be really weirded out and they’d eat a lot of Chipotle.

Upcoming International Tour Dates

12/04 – Tokyo, JP @ Harlem
12/05 – TBA, JP @ TBA
01/12 – Manchester, UK @ Band on the Wall
01/13 – Leeds @ UK @ Belgrave Music Hall
01/14 – Glasgow, UK @ ABC2
01/15 – Dublin, IE @ Green Room
01/16 – London, UK @ The Laundry
01/20 – Helsinki, FI @ Tavastia
01/21 – Oslo, NO @ Rockfeller
01/22 – Stockholm, SE @ Debaser Strand
01/23 – Gothenburg, SE @ Pusterik
01/25 – Copehagen, DK @ Pumpehuset
01/26 – Hamburg, DE @ Mojo
01/28 – Berlin, DE @ Postbahnhof
01/29 – Frankfurt, DE @ Zoom
01/30 – Milan, IT @ Magnolia
01/31 – Vienna, IT @ Flex
02/02 – Prague, CZ @ Lucerna Music Bar
02/03 – Warsaw, PL @ Proxima
02/04 – Zurich, CH @ Rote Fabrik
02/05 – Geneva, CH @ TBD
02/06 – Bern, CH @ Dachstock
02/08 – Munich, DE @ Ampere
02/09 – Stuttgart, DE @ Wizeman
02/11 – Paris, FR @ Bellevilloise
02/12 – Brussels, BE @ VK Club
02/13 – Amsterdam, NL @ Melkweg