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Wilson performing in October 2012
July 10, 1994|
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Raykeea Raeen-Roes Wilson (born July 10, 1994) 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 the 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. Wilson's most recent mixtape is Back to the Woods (2015).
Wilson was born in Detroit, Michigan to a military family. Wilson's father, who passed away from a gunshot wound before Wilson was born, was African American and their mother is a Native American Cherokee. When Wilson was a young child their mother met a preacher in the Greater Apostolic Faith and she 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, Wilson was sexually abused by a man close to the family. Wilson also recalls being told that they would die spontaneously if they didn't 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 a lot, mainly due to their mother running away from the church. At one point Wilson's family was living in a shelter and Wilson was teased at school for it. Wilson was also mocked about their clothes at school and had difficulties making friends and connections due to moving around so often switched between homeschool and public school for many years and finished her high school education a year early.
After a pastor threatened Wilson's mother, the family left the church and moved to Brooklyn, New York when Wilson was 15 years old. The pastor of their church told Wilson's family that God was going to kill them and Wilson's family lived in fear for years afterward.
Wilson began writing as a form of therapy and expressed an interest in creative writing, poetry and journalism. Wilson's first poem was published at the age of 13 after winning a school competition. As a child Roe took creative writing lessons and wanted to be a songwriter or gospel artist. Eventually, Wilson began making YouTube videos and freestyle rapping at the age of 18. Wilson began distributing music on the Internet through sites like Tumblr, where a fan base began to form.
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, Wilson released the free mixtape Reservation to critical acclaim, receiving an 88/100 score from Metacritic. The title Reservation serves as an homage to Wilson's Native American heritage. On December 9, the BBC announced that Wilson had been nominated for the Sound of 2013 poll.
In 2012, Wilson recounted the 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 was put forward 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 5000 copies sold. 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".
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.'"
Wilson raps about themes such as homophobia, rape culture and racism. Wilson 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, 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. Wilson has 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. Wilson 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."
Wilson identifies as pansexual and as agender Wilson has said "I'm glad there's an actual woman of color representing queerness and pansexuality, someone who is like me in the spotlight." 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 - then I can be with you. I don't care if you have a vagina or if you're a hermaphrodite or whatever." In 2015 Wilson noted in an interview with BuzzFeed that "I feel like my agenderness and my gender identity have evolved", and a year later explained that "I sound like four people when I get written about as 'they'. It drives me crazy. 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."
Wilson covered Macklemore's "Same Love" and opened up about her own struggles with family over sexuality in their own interpretation of the song. In a 2017 Billboard interview Wilson 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," which will incorporate nude photographs and interviews of people with body dysmorphia. The project is aimed at creating a conversation about conventional and mainstream beauty standards.
|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||--|