Reservation/Angel Haze [review]...by dashxtrouble

Angel Haze’s EP, Reservation, serves as a fourteen track, heartfelt introduction to the twenty year old rapper with skills and self-knowledge beyond her years. From the dark and brutally honest opening, “This is Me,” to the optimistic, yet emotionally thought-provoking closer, “Smile N Hearts,” Angel Haze demonstrates her dexterous lyrical range throughout the course of album. The album opens with “Somewhere over the Rainbow” played by a baby mobile, before the “This is Me” beat slips into a dark rhythm, on which she raps and sings to her mother, her sibling, and herself about their difficult times together. While hurt by these experiences, Angel maturely recognizes that they have made her who she is. Undoubtedly, this track sets the emotional tone for the album.

The next song, “Wicked Moon,” continues along this darkened path by highlighting the evil imagery of demons and acknowledging the battle between God and Satan during a cutting experience. This track is full grown teenage angst, mixed with the seedlings of self-realization.

Angel follows these two emotionally draining songs with “Chi,” her first of a few love songs. In it, she weaves questions and declarative statements together as she wonders what will make love work, while giving great advice on how to do so.

Track four motions a distinctive change in the feel of the album; no longer only pondering the deep philosophical heavy questions of life and love, Angel Haze raps with a braggadocio that naturally follows those previously deeper introspective songs. She declares that she’s “gone full circle,” moving from a time when she was not being true to herself. She triumphantly shines on this track as the audience witnesses her emergence from her past into her present; it has a butterfly from the cocoon feel to it all.

Angel Haze fully displays her deft lyricism on the popular single, “New York.” She alludes to the Chris Stokes and Raz B sexual situation, the thick strippers at DC’s Stadium, all while professing, “I’m satan, and I’m take your ass to church now.” She sprinkles this complex questioning of religion throughout the album, demonstrating her personal struggles with heaven and hell, or proverbially “right and wrong.” Her funny, thoughtful similes and societal jabs abound on the “Werkin’ Girls,” “The Realest,” and the only rap collaboration, “Jungle Fever.” The latter features Kool AD from Das Racist and causes one to rewind a couple times to understand and enjoy the verbal word play, discussing her love for rough sex (though she hasn’t had none), Darwin as the second coming, and her mostly imaginary friends. The free association rap style illustrates her intelligence and strong command of words; easily it is one of the stand out tracks.

“Hot like Fire” and “Gypsy Letters” are two more love songs addressed to former flames (note: Angel Haze identifies as queer; her music does not focus on who she loves but rather on love and its resulting feelings), wondering how to find and maintain that love lost. The former samples beat from Aaliyah’s classic of the same name; Angel sounds natural atop the Timbaland baseline, but strangely shows her youth with simple lyrics.  

“Castle on a Cloud” delivers some of the most personal lyrics as Angel discusses, seemingly for the first time on a record, her past sexual molestation, and the damaging ramifications of it on her self-worth. After listening to the prior track, which claims that she is the realest in traditional rapper fashion, sans the bling, Angel proves she is “triller than the trillest” with this track, digging deep into her emotional self to share it with her fans. It feels as if she let the world read a few pages from her diary, and its emotional charge changes the mood of the album, back to an introspective side.

On the acoustic sounding, “Sufferings First,” Ms. Haze discusses the importance of suffering and, more importantly, how love is the cure. She details issues with her friends, who are upset that she has changed, and questions, “But, how the fuck you make a difference and still stay the same?” Deep questions from an thoughtful soul.

Angel provides one last lyrical workout on “Drop It” before the album’s dismount, the emotional, “Smile N Hearts.” The latter deems, “Struggle is worth it” as she confesses that she dreams with her eyes open so she can see where she is going.

Overall, I look forward to future Angel Haze material; she is insightful and thought-provoking with a quick wit. She reminds me of Drake, ready for the fame, success, and acceptance, but uninterested and even scared of it all. She, like all of us, is a walking contradiction, filled with contradictory beliefs and desires. It is her ability to rap, which 98% of us are unable to do well,  about those complexities that make her album worthy of multiple listens. Her sincerity shines through the pain, which causes the audience, specifically this reviewer, to wish her nothing but champagne when she eventually wins.

~by dashxtrouble
(to read more by dashxtrouble, go to his blog Between The World And Me)

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