Few gestures from musicians are more obvious “f— you’s” to record companies than album leaks. In this spirit, rapper Angel Haze leaked her highly anticipated “Dirty Gold” via Twitter on Dec. 18, three months before the debut album’s projected March 2014 release. Despite this emblematic middle finger to her label, Island Records, the rebellious artist’s first album fails to escape corporate platitudes, releasing a watered down, cliche-filled shadow of the intense and profound rapping expected of her after her outstanding first EP, “New York.”
A bit of gold still lurks on this album, particularly in the previously released single “Echelon (It’s My Way).” This track features Haze at her best, with tongue-in-cheek, fiery lyrics like “All these b—— is has-beens/ I CPR’d the game/ And now all these b—— is gasping.”
However, the most interesting thing about Haze — her raw, intense feminism so unlike her counterparts in the genre — fades to the background in the pop-leaning tracks, especially in the heavy-handed, anti-suicide ballad “Angel + Airwaves.” In this track, Haze is singing like Beyonce more than she is rapping and literally speaking, directing the track at those who are “contemplating suicide.” It’s a sweet message, and Haze seems earnest, but the song eventually grows cheesy and preachy.
The second half of this album is filled with overly solemn messages about love, trust and even religion, which end up overshadowing the take-no-prisoners, girl-power attitude provided earlier in the album and her first EP, ultimately making “Dirty Gold” melodramatic and boring.