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Freshcut

‘Dirty Gold’ Angel Haze

With her taunting, confessional lyrics, raw production sensibility, and ferocious rapping, everything Detroit-born, Greater Apostolic Faith-raised Angel Haze did before “Dirty Gold” had the force of a young woman catapulted from a cage. The thirst for knowledge, the rage of dealing with sexual abuse, and the pure power of music itself (she was kept from popular song due to her strict faith) burst forth from her “Voice” EP and her mixtapes. The desire for confrontation pushed her to leak “Dirty Gold” last month, when her label moved its release date to March. She wanted out. Her music insisted on it.

Yet much of “Dirty Gold” sounds less insistent than her past work. There’s still a hurt urgency to the rap and braggart’s brio on “Echelon (It’s My Way),” the complex emotionalism of “Black Dahlia,” and the mix of old-school optimism and new-school electricity on “A Tribe Called Red.” But she’s straining to make missteps like the limp balladry of “Battle Cry,” and the prog-pop of “Angels & Airwaves” into something they’re not (interesting), with the album’s production suffering from a distancing, cool slickness. Good, not great.

– A.D. Amorosi, Philadelphia Inquirer

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