Angel Haze Releases 'Dirty Gold' Online, Rebels Against Label
Angel Haze and Island Records did everything right to ensure a healthy buzz and smooth release for her debut album on the label, Dirty Gold. They released "30 freestyles in 30 days (including one over Macklemore's "Same Love") to have a good buildup before the album. They even leaked a track from the album itself with "A Tribe Called Red." But the label kept pushing back the release date of Dirty Gold further and further until it wasn't set to be released until March of next year. And as anyone in the music industry will tell you, having an album released late in the year to have a better chance of making it onto music magazine's year-end lists, is key. So Angel Haze flipped the script and leaked the entire album online.
Of course, the album was taken down in only a few hours, but Angel Haze's angry Twitter rant against her label still remains. It's pretty long, so here's the text from the tweets leading up to it:
It's so annoying that my label could tell me that if I fucking finished my album before the summer it would be out this year. I have gone to bat for this music. I have gone to bat for myself. I have literally sat fucking sleepless and starved crying over this shit. I turned down so much shit to be sure that I could finish this album because actually wanting something to me means doing all you can to be sure that it's attainable. I stopped arguing my point. Stopped giving a fuck about everything. Let these other ditsy bitches disrespect me. I turned my fucking cheek because MUSIC IS ALL I FUCKING HAVE...and I know that's the same for some of you. I did everything I could for you. I did not promise an album and not deliver, unlike every fucking one else. I sat my ass down and came up with this music WHEN I HAD NOTHING. Taking shit on the chin does not mean sitting back and letting the world beat and suck you fucking dry. It's knowing something is bigger than anything you are or will ever be and sitting the fuck down and complying to get shit done. I'm sorry if I seem angry. But these are my dreams. The only thing I have in my life. Imagine having the only reason you're alive being the very thing straining your existence. Ughhhh
It seemed as if the music industry had gotten together with online publications to figure out how releasing an album in the age of the Internet works now: you build up hype over social media, you give a website the rights to stream the album before it's released, people continue to talk about it, and hopefully that translates into album sales once you release it over iTunes on your label. But instances like Angel Haze's show that there's no one way to release in album in the digital age, and there never will be.
You can keep everything under wraps and have a huge release under a big label (Beyonce), you can build up a label release only to surprise everyone and release it for free online (Angel Haze, Death Grips), you can self-release it for a price (My Bloody Valentine, Radiohead) or just any price (also Radiohead), you can release a free online album through a label or just do it yourself (pretty much any rapper nowadays), you can get a corporate sponsor to help release your album (Jay-Z, brought to you by Samsung). Honestly, if there's anything that can be guaranteed about an album release in 2013, it's that no two releases will be alike.
And each of these releases can come off as a sort of mission statment from the artists. Beyonce's recent album release made it clear not only that she knows her album will sell, but that she's in complete control over her image as an artist. Radiohead's famous "pay what you want" album release and similar experiments since then reflect a sort D.I.Y aesthetic rebelling against big business. As for Angel Haze, she's definitely gotten her message across. She believes in her music, labels be damned, and she'll get it out there no matter what it takes.