“I’m just making it for people who want to get lost,” says Angel Haze as she introduces us to her first studio album, Dirty Gold. Not even 10 full seconds pass before a synth-heavy beat cuts in, and suddenly Haze is spitting a mile a minute.
Known for writing narratives that ooze both power and honesty, her lyricism on Dirty Gold disappoints over mass-produced studio beats. This isn’t quite the Angel Haze that made jaws drop just over a year ago.
There is no denying that that Angel Haze is an amazing rapper, and the tracks themselves are indeed well crafted; however, Dirty Gold doesn’t do anything unique.
Up until this point, Haze has only produced wonderfully profound songs, but Dirty Gold is littered with pseudo-inspiration.
Haze has been through a lot, and one can hear her past seeping through her vague messages, but it all sounds shallow.
She spits with an aggression and venom similar to that of Eminem. Her reflective tendencies, depictions of her reality, and strong position are reminiscent of him; yet, she stands on her own as a female MC.
Haze made a name for herself with her 2012 mixtape, Classick. The connection to Eminem is inevitable, since she rapped over his 2002 track “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” and revealed how she was molested as a child. The track is heart-wrenching and raw, and while Dirty Gold has similar moments, none of them are nearly as powerful.
One of the tracks, “Black Dahlia,” has that same visceral vibe as “Cleanin’ Out My Closet,” but it’s not as engaging or breathtaking. “You should write a song where the concept is, you’re basically writing a love letter or, like, a piece of advice to your mother when she was your age,” suggests the start of the track.
Then Haze raps to her mother about how she loathes yet loves her, sees her mom in herself, and wishes she could have changed so much for her mom. The passion in Haze’s voice is rich, and as her emotion spills over with lyrics that manage to be both gritty and sentimental, it causes a deep-seated reaction in the listener, increasing with each play.
However, even the strongest lyrical moments can be overshadowed by the production on Haze’s album, which is oddly Top 40-esque. She dips into some dubstep, too, which is strikingly out of character.
Dirty Gold is disappointing and generic in quality, coming from one of hip hop’s most promising individuals. The album unfortunately lags because of the non-descript instrumentation. The duet with Sia on “Battle Cry” is precisely the type of hyper-constructed studio track, complete with vaguely uplifting lyrics, that makes the album feel played out even though it’s brand new.
“New York,” the final track on the deluxe edition, is also in various incarnations on Haze’s earlier work, like New York EP and Reservation. It’s an odd throwback, but also a reminder of how stellar Angel Haze can be when she’s not pandering to the masses.
Angel Haze – Dirty Gold tracklist:
- “Sing About Me”
- “Echelon (It’s My Way)”
- “A Tribe Called Red”
- “Deep Sea Diver”
- “Angel + Airwaves”
- “April’s Fools”
- “White Lillies / White Lies”
- “Battle Cry”
- “Black Dahlia”
- “Planes Fly”
- “Dirty Gold”
- “Rose-Tinted Suicide” (Deluxe Edition)
- “Vinyl” (Deluxe Edition)
- “Crown” (Deluxe Edition)
- “New York” (Deluxe Edition)