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Raykeea Raeen-Roes Wilson (born July 10, 1991) known professionally as Angel Haze, is an American rapper and singer. In 2012, Wilson released the EP Reservation and later signed a record deal with Universal Republic Records before moving to Republic Records. On December 31, 2013, Wilson released her debut album Dirty Gold, which featured the singles "Echelon (It's My Way)" and "Battle Cry.” Wilson has released a number of mixtapes, including Reservation, which was ranked the sixth-best mixtape of 2012 by Mike Diver of the BBC, the most recent one Back to the Woods appeared in 2015.

Early Life

Wilson was born in Detroit, Michigan to a military family. Her father, who died from a gunshot wound before her birth, was African American and her mother is Native American Cherokee. When Wilson was a young child her mother met a preacher in the Greater Apostolic Faith and the two moved into his home with his wife and children, into what Wilson describes as a cult. Growing up in the church, Wilson witnessed domestic violence and manipulation at a very young age. As a child, she was sexually abused by a man close to the family. Wilson also recalls being told that they would die spontaneously if she did not behave correctly. In an interview with The Guardian, Wilson stated: "We all lived in the same community, within 10 minutes of each other. You weren't allowed to talk to anyone outside of that, you weren't allowed to wear jewelry, listen to music, to eat certain things, to date people … you weren't allowed to do pretty much anything."

Wilson's family moved around frequently, mainly due to her mother running away from the church. At one point the family was living in a shelter and she was teased at school for it. They were also mocked for her clothes and had difficulties making friends and connections due to moving around. She switched between homeschool and public school for many years and finished high school a year early.

After a pastor threatened Wilson's mother, the family left the church, moving to Brooklyn, New York, when she was 15 years old. The pastor told Haze's family that God was going to kill them, and they lived in fear for years afterward.

Wilson began writing as a form of therapy and expressed an interest in creative writing, poetry and journalism. Her first poem was published at the age of 13 after winning a school competition. As a child, she took creative writing lessons and wanted to be a songwriter or gospel artist. Eventually, she began making YouTube videos and freestyle rapping at the age of 18. Wilson began distributing music on the Internet through sites such as Tumblr, where a fan base began to form.

Musical career

From 2009 to 2012, Wilson put out a number of mixtapes for free download on the Internet: New Moon, Altered Ego, King, and Voice. In July 2012, they released the free mixtape Reservation to critical acclaim, receiving an 88/100 score from Metacritic. The title Reservation is an homage to her Native American heritage. Wilson was nominated for BBC the Sound of 2013 poll.

In 2012, Wilson recounted her experience of being sexually assaulted as a child in "Cleaning Out My Closet," a song from the mixtape Classick that uses segments from Eminem's song of the same name.

On August 28, 2013, Wilson released "Echelon (It's My Way)" as the lead single from the debut album Dirty Gold. The entire album was leaked on December 18, 2013, prior to scheduled March 2014 release. The album release date was advanced, and it appeared through Island Records and Republic Records on December 30, 2013, to positive reviews. It had low first-week sales of just over 500 copies. On September 14, 2015, Wilson released the mixtape Back to the Woods announcing that the project was just "something to share before a sophomore". In March 2017 Wilson released "Resurrection".

Artistry

Influences

After Wilson moved to New York and began listening to secular music, she became inspired by artists such as Eminem, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Drake and Lil Wayne. "The artists that I identify [with] mostly are the ones who are so uncompromisingly themselves," Wilson said in a 2014 Rolling Stone interview. "Like, 'Fuck you. I don't care what you think about it. This is who I am. And I can either force-feed you this shit, or you can take it as you will.'"

Public image

Wilson raps about themes such as homophobia, rape culture and racism. She uses her personal experiences to condemn a culture that breeds the self-harm of queer youth. Wilson has also been open about her experience with mental illnesses such as addiction, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anorexia in her music and in interviews and social media.

Wilson sees her goal as an artist to reach out to people who are similar to her or going through difficult experiences. She said, "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."

In a 2014 Vice column, Wilson discussed cultural appropriation and white artists making hip hop. She stated, "There seems to be this hypocrisy because people want to appropriate black culture but only when it's cool or beneficial to them … And that's the reason that people don't have a right, to some extent, to use black music to their own gains."

Personal life

Wilson is pansexual and agender. She has said: "People talking about me, like, 'I'm glad there's an actual woman of color representing queerness and pansexuality, someone who is like me in the spotlight.'" In 2015, Wilson noted in an interview with BuzzFeed that although she identifies as neither male nor female, she does prefer singular pronouns, explaining, "I feel like my agenderness and my gender identity have evolved." Reading articles about herself, she noted, "I sound like four people when I get written about as 'they.' It drives me crazy … I'm one person. So, if you call me 'him' or 'her,' it doesn't matter to me. I don't consider myself of any sex. I consider myself an experience."

In an interview with The Guardian, Wilson stated that, "Love is boundary-less. If you can make me feel, if you can make me laugh—and that's hard to do—then I can be with you." In 2014, she was in a relationship with model Ireland Baldwin. The two broke up a year later.

Wilson recorded a cover of Macklemore's "Same Love," which chronicled her own personal experiences. She opened up about her struggles with family over sexuality and growing up LGBTQ. In a 2017 Billboard interview she stated, "When I was young … 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."

In 2015, Wilson began working on a body image project titled "The Naked Eye" incorporating nude photographs and interviews of people with body dysmorphia. The project aims to create a conversation about conventional and mainstream beauty standards.

Wilson is self-taught in the Cherokee language and celebrates her multiracial heritage.

Discography

  • Dirty Gold (2013)
  • Back to the Woods (2015)

Filmography

Television

Year Film Role Notes
2015 Catfish: The TV Show Co-host Season 4 – Episode 3

Awards and nominations

Year Organization Award Work Result
2012 MTV Brand New For 2013 Nominated
BBC Sound of 2013 Third
2013 Popdust Next Pop Superstar of 2013 Nominated
O Music Awards Best Web-Born Artist
2014 BET Awards Best Female Hip Hop Artist
MTV Video Music Awards Best Video with a Social Message "Battle Cry"
2015 GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Music Artist
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