TRACK OF THE WEEK 10/28/13: Angel Haze “Same Love” Freestyle

Angel-HazeWhile we applaud anyone who champions equality, understanding, and empathy, we’ve never really been able to get behind Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s “Same Love” – not because we disagree with its message, but rather because it’s got about fifth-grade level comprehension of LGBQT struggle.  Macklemore’s struggle ended when his mom explained to him that he liked girls; he did the “math” and agreed.  Then he became an ally and MTV lavished him with praise and awards.

Angel Haze, on the other hand, says that her mother knew she “wasn’t straight” at age thirteen and locked her away for two years.  And in 2013, she starts off a freestyle about it chuckling, but admitting that she’s still scared to call her mom out on that knee-jerk reaction so many years ago, in which she told her daughter she’d “burn in hell or probably die of AIDS”.

Angel Haze’s “Same Love” freestyle is part of a series of thirty brilliant reworkings, posted almost daily to her soundcloud and leading up to the release of her highly anticipated debut record Dirty Gold.  She’s tackled Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, Drake and Kanye, her brilliant rhymes and staccato flow putting the originals to shame.  But “Same Love” is a nuclear bomb in terms of its content.  The partly personal narrative lends an authenticity to the rallying call that it’s okay to love whomever you love in a way that Macklemore’s track couldn’t touch, and from there Angel Haze launches herself into patron sainthood for misunderstood pansexuals.

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From the declaration “So I stand for the boy who’ll die by his hand to the sound of his father screamin’ woman loves man” to her laundry list of shout outs toward the end of the track (“Here’s to bullies because beatings cannot last forever / Here’s to the moment that you realize things do get better”), Angel Haze takes absolutely no prisoners.  But the most poignant verses come in a less fierce moment; you can feel her searching not just for the right words but for a way to define the undefinable – a fluid sense of self (and of sexuality) that labels don’t quite stick to.

I am living today as someone I had not yet become yesterday

And tonight I’ll only borrow pieces of who I am today to carry with me to tomorrow

No I’m not gay, no I’m not straight and I sure as hell am not bisexual dammit

I am whoever I am when I am it

This kind of nuanced exploration of sexual identity has rarely if ever been represented in hip-hop; pop has its campy Katy Perry girl-kissing anthems that make fluid sexuality seem like some sexed-up joke.  But what Angel Haze lays out with refreshing clarity is that we’re all making an attempt to meet our truest selves, and her hope for each listener is that nothing stands in the way of that.  She warns us that there will be those who attempt to impose meaningless labels on our sense of identity at the very least, and at the worst there will be those who want to see us suffer for who we are.  But she reminds us at the end of the track that “We all feel love, we feel it the same” and signs off “Here’s to love, here’s to change”.

Any mother should be proud of a daughter with a message like that.

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