Angel Haze: "Waiting to Release My Album Would Have Killed Me…"
Our new columnist Angel Haze on her struggles with the industry.
In the first of Angel Haze's new column, she discusses the recent leak of her new record.
On the 18th December 2013, I leaked my own album. People thought I was crazy—that I was screwing my own career. But was I the crazy one? I mean, who in their right mind finishes an album in three months and then waits seven months before putting it out? It was just so frustrating.
The label wanted to delay for the release for all kinds of little reasons, marketing and other stuff. But the bigger problem was that most people didn’t know how to take me. People would come to me and go, “You seem like a bitch but in person you’re really nice.” I had to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be perceived as. Everyone wants to be the most unfuckwithable rapper but I’ve always been humble with my craft. At this point I think I’m still rather mediocre and just learning the ropes. I’m trying to do the things to develop my artistry, so coming out of the gate and going, “I’m the best fucking rapper you’ll ever meet in the world” won’t work for me, especially when it’s not true.
In the end I had to fire my manager and leak my album to turn my entire career around. I told my old manager “This is my only shot. If you’re not down with carrying me how I need to be carried, fuck you I’ll go find somebody else,” and I did. But that doesn’t mean I have a problem with the industry or my label. My label’s been extremely good to me, I have the creative freedom to make the album that I wanted to without the input of a thousand people going “make a fucking hit.”
The machinery of the industry can be both a help and hindrance to artists. A lot depends on the kind of label you sign with, but more important is how much confidence you have about your own direction. If you bend over and let other people take charge then you don’t get to do what you want to do. And for some people that’s fine. Some people just say “I want to be famous” and then the label would have just tried their own shit, picked their own songwriters and producers and made people work with them. That’s what happens with a lot of people who just say “I wanna be famous”—then a label can step in and do that for you.
Some people take the time to work on things, they work on them diligently and don’t care about the hits, and some people rush and have songwriters and all this other stuff going on. It all comes down to the individual. But I always tell people you have to make sure that this is something that you want in the long run. I had it explained to me in a funny way once, my manager said: right now you are a ten on the fame scale, then you’ll be a 20, then you’ll get to 30, and when you get to 100 you’ll never be able to get back to ten. You have to appreciate what you have when you have it and decide at that moment if you want to become super famous, or go out and only get recognised by kids in Soho.
I wanna be a fucking massive icon so I wanna enjoy these moments where i’m only a ten or 20 on that scale. Then I’m gonna get to 100 on the fame scale and commit suicide when I’m 30 but that’s fine, it’s just something that you have to prepare yourself for and be ready to have certain things stripped from you.
In the end I guess I wasn’t used to having to wait to put stuff out, I had to learn that. Everything has to go out at the right amount of time to maximise exposure. But I still think I made the right choice. It’s crazy how well just putting it straight on the internet worked. Before I was thinking, this shit better not come out in 2015, it will kill me. Now I think people know who I am.
Angel Haze on Twitter - @AngelHaze.