There’s a reason that a giant corner of the internet has been holding its breath all week while waiting for Angel Haze to finally drop “Gxmes”.
Throughout 2012’s mixtape Reservation, and last year’s major label debut Dirty Gold, Haze makes music with the aim of speaking out, claiming space, and lifting up the downtrodden; whether that’s her fans or Haze herself. She does her fair share of hip hop alpha bragging—songs like “New York” and “Sing About Me” announce that she runs shit, she’s already won, she’s here to stay whether people like it or not. But more often, on songs like “Dirty Gold” and “Battle Cry”, Haze addresses individuals in her life as well as entire populations of underdogs, marginalized people and lost kids, reaching out to anyone who might need it. It never seems preachy because it’s balanced out by countless confessionals that lay bare the dark places she comes from herself. Angel Haze’s music is all about confession, redemption, and survival—she establishes herself as a Twitter sadkid, oversharing and overselfie-ing and all (just kidding there is no such thing), while simultaneously making music that other Twitter sadkids can look to for strength. Fans are meant to take it personally, and they do.
It’s not surprising then that the queer Internet, more at home on Tumblr and Twitter than in many IRL spaces, has followed Haze unwaveringly. Haze has always been up front about not identifying as straight (“pansexual” she has said in interviews), and has won a million queer hearts by redoing Macklemore’s “Same Love” with lyrics that actually speak from a queer experience and by being characteristically outspoken about her relationship with Ireland Baldwin (model and daughter of Alec Baldwin), which she shared through dreamy selfies and revealing tweets.
Fans lived for it, and not just because being young and famous and attractive is highly rebloggable—the sad truth is, there just simply are not that many depictions of real queer relationships in the media, especially not happy ones. When we do find queer relationship narratives they are usually told in the past tense and revolve around tragedy, futility, disease, and death. Celebrity couple worship is aspirational in the way that so much of Tumblr is aspirational—it enables people to live vicariously through images, which is especially significant if you’re a queer teen trapped in an unsupportive home in a small town. It meant something to be able to follow the present-tense narrative of a queer couple that was carefree and happy and in love.
When Haze’s Twitter indicated that her and Baldwin might have broken up following the release of Haze’s love song “Candlxs” last week, our collective hearts broke as well. Consequently, Haze put off releasing “Gxmes”—first til Friday, then til Tuesday, then took it down immediately upon posting it to make tweaks which led anxious fans to take matters into their own hands and upload the track to a fan-made Soundcloud account and to YouTube. The follow-up felt that urgent. What happens when the first thing that’s meant to go right up, goes wrong? What was she going to do? What were we going to do? The people had a right to know.
The answer, as we might have guessed, is not as monumental as the question (although it does make for a killer track). You get in your feelings, then you get on your grind. If you’re Haze, you find catharsis in sharp verses and big pop choruses and massive trap beats (courtesy of TROY NoKA). “I thought it would be cool to turn a situation that hurt me into something I could dance to,” Haze wrote on her Tumblr, to an adoring chorus of fire and touchdown and heart emojis. “Whatever, we tried baby,” she sings. It hurts, sure, but it’s not like it’s RENT.
“Gxmes” and “Candlxs” will both be on the upcoming In the Winter of Wet Years EP.