It’s been three years since Angel Haze’s last music video -- 2014’s emotional Sia-assisted (and VMA nominated) “Battle Cry -- but the rapper is back (resurrected, even!) with a newfound energy. While fans have to wait until early summer for a new album, Haze is premiering her visual for “Resurrection” on Billboard.
To help celebrate her return, Haze talked to us about the murals in the music video ("We broke into [my neighbor's] house and painted all his walls") working with Sia and sampling John Mayer.
Your video for “Resurrection” is on another level. How did you come up with the treatment for it?
I needed it to tell a story for me. I needed to make clear what hasn't been clear in the past few years. I sat with my creative director, Nick Francis -- he's amazing. We talked about all these ways that we could incorporate who I actually am into my visuals. Well, I paint. I do photography. I do all sorts of artistic s--t. So we painted all the murals for the video.
It was crazy because my neighbor had just moved out of his house, and I didn't want the paint fumes in my house. So we broke into his house and painted all his walls. These things are life-size, they're bigger than a 6'4" man.
“Resurrection” has obvious religious connotations. Do you consider yourself a religious person?
I don't. I consider myself to be more spiritual than religious. I think religion is very toxic. It's bad for people and it's bad for humanity. Spirituality though, I'm completely synchronized with that, and I think definitely it'll be on display a lot in my new music.
I'm really f--ked up right now too, because I've learned that I don't even write my own music. I stopped doing every drug known to man, I didn't drink before. I've been completely sober since last March. I've been living my life every day inside of my body, working on this kind of awareness -- understanding that every area of your life is calling out to you in some way. It's not about the Bible. It's not about going to church. It's not about anything other than that we are all energies connected with a force that's greater than us. It's an energy that's omniscient, it covers the whole world and everybody here is created for a reason. Mine happens to be to make the music and inspire the people who are stuck in dark places.
I think it's crazy, because if I sit down with my music like “Daughters,” I didn’t have a lyrics sheet for that. I freestyled that entire thing in the studio, and I have a take-by-take to prove it. I went on autopilot. When you do that and something else taps into you, it tells the story for you.
No one but Jesus. This is crazy because my mom and I, we reconnected last March. My relationship with my mother up until now has been really tumultuous. It was a lot of pride and ego between two people, and I've learned that in all love there has to be constant sacrifice. Constant. So I sacrificed my ego in order to gain forgiveness, in order to gain family, in order to gain love.
When my mom came back into my life she kept telling me that the person I was needed to die. She's like, “You have to let go.” That's my mom's voice in the phone [in the beginning of “Resurrection”], saying, "You need to start over, die, and resurrect yourself. God made you this and let this happen.”
You are in a relationship with a man, but you're openly bisexual. Growing up, was there ever any conflict between your religious and your sexual orientation?
Oh my god, that s--t is crazy because it still exists in my day-to day life -- knowing what Christians or the world may perceive as wrong, is a part of me. I fight myself sometimes on whether or not I just want to be straight, or just be f--king gay so that I can get it all over with. It's a push and a pull, definitely.
When I was young because I didn't understand what was going on. I didn't understand that I could be attracted to men and women at the same time. I went through a lot of s--t. It really takes a toll on you. I have a lot of fans who are lesbian and gay, or even just queer in general. Everybody needs to have patience with themselves. At the end of the day, all of our opinions are informed by the pressures of other people.
My opinion of myself for such a long time was like, “You're disgusting and you're wrong and it's immoral.” Then I was like, "What the f--k? Love is not wrong, in any way, shape, or form." I believe that God loves us all. Every sin is equal in his eyes -- no man is f--king greater, no man is less than any other one. So I don't judge people and I don't judge myself by that anymore. It still is really f--king liberating.
How would you describe the sound on this upcoming album?
The sound is f--k crazy. I've worked with so many different people. I made what I thought was my record in LA, and then I moved. Now in middle of Georgia and New York, and I'm split between working with producers over here and the sound is totally different. So my album has texture.
There's some s--t I produced on there. There's a song called “Drive Slow” that I produced. It's really f--king weird. The album is so textured with sound -- there's strings, there's piano s--t, there's just crazy drums everywhere.
You seem to be singing a little bit more and your voice is incredible. Should we expect more singing on this album?
Oh my god, there's so much singing on this album. I have like big, big, big songs that sound like... It's just, it's out there, you know? It's just me, I'm exploring the extent of my artistry, and the extent of my gifts. I want to divulge as deep as I can.
One of your tracks samples John Mayer's “Daughters.” Why did you choose that song?
It meant a lot to me when I was a kid. I was growing up without a father to show me what it meant to love -- to understand love from a man, to understand love from my mom. I understand my mom now so much more in my adult years. I'm 25 now and I'm like, “Holy f--k, I get it.” If I had a kid as early as she did, I would have made a lot of mistakes. I would have f--ked that kid's life. But my mom did everything that she could for me. You come to appreciate your parents later in life.
This song is for parents, you need to understand that it's f--king imperative that you are there to show your child what love is, and in the right way. A lot of people lose themselves -- their gifts, their lives -- following f--ked up examples.
Do you anticipate backlash for sampling him, given his arguably racist comments from 2010?
John Mayer is entitled to his dickish opinions and outlooks. I think that is all indicative to the person. But that doesn't stop “Daughters” from being an amazing song. It's an amazing lyric and it transcends him. I don't give a f--k about John Mayer. I give a f--k about the fact that there are countless daughters and sons out there who are going to need to hear that message. F--k the opinions. It's mine now.
In the past couple years you've had some really cool collaborations with Sia, Stromae, and Nick Jonas. Who was the most interesting to work with?
Oh my God, Sia, most definitely. Sia is a beast. I mean, we wrote “Battle Cry” in like thirty minutes. I was f--king blown away because I had spent my youth listening to Sia -- “Breathe Me,” “The Girl You Lost To Cocaine” -- you know. My whole life, all I wanted to do was work with Sia, and then Greg Kurstin called me and was like, "Hey, Sia wants you to come in and try something over this song.”
She’s a genius. The rest of them are cool too, but you know. She's the best.
Can you tell us about any upcoming collaborations?
I've done a few collabs for this album. There's a girl called Lady Leshurr -- she's so f--king tight. We have a crazy-ass song together. She is one of the tightest f--king rappers in the world. I'm just floored. And then Anderson .Paak and I are trying something right now. I don't know what it's going to end up like, but I feel like it could be great in itself.