A Detroit native rapper, Angel Haze, rose to fame after releasing a track in which she unapologetically and explicitly tells her story of sexual abuse, and now she uses her music platform to embrace her rebellious persona after being a part of what she considers a "cult" that sheltered her from the outside world.
"I grew up in a cult…we weren't allowed to communicate with people outside the community. No wearing trousers. No listening to secular music," said Haze, according to U.K.-based The Telegraph.
Haze, 22, grew up on 7 Mile Road near 8 Mile Road, an avenue in Detroit made famous by rapper Eminem who grew up there. And although she was not aware of pop culture, listening to Eminem was her outlet. Last year, his musical influence on her life was evident through her song, "Cleaning Out My Closet," a track she wrote using the exact beat and title from the rapper's 2002 single in which he tells the story of his troubled life.
In it she graphically describes how she was raped at age 10 by two family friends "millions of times" and the damage it caused her which led her to starve herself in order to not appear attractive, and experiment sexually with girls which eventually sparked her curiosity to become "pansexual," as she describes it.
Haze says the church, which she describes as a Pentecostal sect, she belonged to was manipulative and hypocritical in nature and says members were not oblivious to cases of sexual and domestic abuse but rather they were very much aware.
"And then it happened in a home where every [expletive] one knew/And they ain't do [expletive] but [expletive] blame it on youth/I'm sorry mom but I really used to blame it on you, but even you, by then wouldn't know what to do," Haze raps in her song, referring to her own abuse.
Furthermore, Haze says similar abuse even happened in church.
"There was this guy in the church who used to beat his wife. Once he took one of her high heels and smashed her in the head with it in front of everyone," said Haze, reports The Telegraph. "The place was drenched with blood. And no one would do anything about it, except pray that God would fix it."
Under the restrictions of the church, Haze could not have a cell phone until she was 16 while the Internet in her household was "childproof." In an interview with a Montreal-based music publication, Cult, Haze also explains that her interest in music began by listening to music featured in movies.
"The only way I got to hear music legitimately was from films," said Haze. "All of my favorite music I learned from watching films like 'A Walk to Remember' or 'Bring It On' or, like listening to some movie that had a Smiths song playing in the background, and I'm like, 'Wait, what is this?'"
She continues, "The way I learned what I actually liked was by remembering and re-watching these films and saying, 'Yeah, I love this song,' and then doing A-Z Lyrics searches, and finding bands and rappers that are similar to the ones that I like. My musical taste is so broad. It's, like, every freakin' thing you can imagine. I was just so desperately hungry for it that I didn't even care what it was. I just wanted to listen."
Once she turned 16, her mother left the church due to strains with a church leader. But making a break from the controlling church proved difficult when a prophet told her mother that God was going to kill Haze and her older brother.
"He said we weren't going to live past the age of 16. So she was paranoid for several years," said Haze. "I actually hated my birthday. I would spend the night before throwing up. I was full of nerves, thinking, 'I'm going to die, dude!' But we didn't die. So it was like, pfff! Whatever."
Haze says that once they left the church, she progressively began to have a normal life although she continued to carry hate not only towards her abusers but her mother as well for being a part of the cult and taking on their same practice of knowing about her abuse but not doing anything to end it. It has been over a decade since Haze was sexually abused, however her perpetrators have not been convicted. But now that she's in a better place in her life, Haze says her relationship with her mother has improved.
"We've recently got on good terms. I'm trying not to feel so alone in the world, so if you can make amends, make amends. I understand that she was looking for love," said Haze.
Haze now considers organized religion "a means of control," an opinion she explicitly makes known through her violent and blasphemous charged lyrics in her music.