Why Angel Haze's "Cleanin' Out My Closet" Is Necessary For Female Rap

You never really forget your first time having sex. It’s a moment maturing girls dream about: Think a rated-R, Homo sapien version of that love scene in Lion King (which, in reality, is more likely an awkward, bumbling 85 seconds of boinking). Yet Angel Haze’s experience is far from Disney fantasy; on Tuesday (Oct. 23), the 21-year-old rapper revealed that she was a victim of rape at the age of 7 via a revamp of Eminem’s 2002 hit, “Cleanin' Out My Closet.” In some of hip-hop’s most soul-bearing four minutes on wax spat by a lady lyricist, she makes the booth her personal confessional as she recounts the moment she first meets her doers:

"When I was 7, envision me at the bottom of stairs
And I solemenly swear this is the truth, no fallacy here
See I was young, man. I was just a toddler, a kid
And he wasn't the first to successfully try what he did,
He took me to the basement and after the lights had been cut
He whipped it out and sodomized and forced his cock through my gut..."

The remainder of the track—including vivid descriptions of abrasions and violent plots for revenge—becomes incredibly uncomfortable to digest. Yet by song’s end, poignant emotions creep in: fear of a man's touch, vulnerability, attraction to the same sex and self-hatred.

This is the same rail-thin lyricist, with looks that mirror a young Aaliyah Haughton, who outrhymed A$AP Rocky, Joey Bada$$ and Childish Gambino in the RZA-hosted 2012 BET Awards cypher two weeks ago. Yet here, she spits true-to-life events on a record that recalls the sobering storytelling of Eve’s 2000 musical PSA, “Love is Blind.” Though an outsider to her best friend’s domestic abuse episodes, Eve vicariously transfers the sting from frequent smackdowns that ultimately led to the victim’s demise. It matches the suicidal thoughts Angel pens on “Closet” though cloaked in a different shroud of physical pain. Still, both empathetic odes are filed among a small category of real talk that fails to permeate enough pieces from rap’s minority gender.

By song’s end, we realize we are the abusers. We’ve let female rap predecessors dictate that success is based on sex. According to a December 2011 government study titled the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 1 out of every 5 American women said they had been raped. The results also found that 2 percent of female rape victims were assaulted when they were 10 or younger, but almost half of female victims said they had been raped before they turned 18. In an industry that widely distributes club bangers and strip club anthems to members within that age group, Angel rocks her scarlet letter with the swag of a lone victim-turned-victor. The song doesn’t read publicity stunt—80 to 90 percent of rapes are not reported to authorities—nor is it a joint meant to one-up Nicki Minaj or Azealia Banks. “My ultimate goal was to let go of all of it, the things that kind of haunt me in a way,” she told the New York Times. “Too many people are afraid to say, “This happened to me and look what I did with it.”

And “it” is no microphoned pity cry or a direct page to Ice T’s SVU character. A troubled past is often the common denominator for some of the most brilliant artists. And it’s the emancipation of those private emotions that can make or break a great one. There is a dearth of lady lyricists who venture outside familiar success formulas, but an even rarer few who escape their own safe rooms. Angel's just a reminder that what's lost can be found.

Listen to her new mixtape "Classick" here.

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Is Expected To Make $64 Million Opening Weekend

Thanks to Us, Jordan Peele has another blockbuster on his hands. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the highly-anticipated horror flick starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex, is expected to have a $64 million opening weekend at the domestic box office.

Peele’s sophomore horror film earned an impressive $7.4 million on Thursday (March 21) night previews, and is forecasted to take in about $27 million from Friday sales. The film is also on pace to knock Captain Marvel out of the No. 1 spot at the box office.

Once final numbers are tallied, Us will likely snatch the third-best opening weekend record for an R-rated horror film behind It, which brought in a whopping $123.4 million, followed by Halloween’s $76.2 million opening weekend last year.

Aside from rave reviews and a genius promo run that included simultaneous screenings in major media markets, Us earned a 95 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film, set in the mid-1980s centers around a family of four who set off on a vacation that finds them confronting some familiar faces.

Peele recently spoke to VIBE about casting Duke (our April 2019 cover star) in the role of patriarch, Gabe Wilson. “I have to have somebody voice what the audience was saying,” he said. “In the case of Get Out, it’s Rod, like, ‘How have you not left yet?’ [In Us], Winston is largely that voice. There’s one moment where Lupita [Nyong’o] takes a step into the unknown, where black people [will think], ‘I don’t know.’ But to have Winston say, ‘Aaaand she left. Your mother just walked out of the car.’ That’s all we need.”

Duke also opened up about the intricacies of his character. “His function isn’t to see through the veil. His function is to tell the absolute truth how he sees it,” explained the 32-year-old actor. “He’s sometimes there to say the things that other people don’t want to say, but he’s also there to make fun of things to keep it from not getting too heavy, even though it’s real. That was my job. [Peele] respected that. I like to lean into functions. If I’m going to be your antagonist, I’m gonna really push you. If I’m gonna be your clown, funny guy, I’m gonna do that.”

Click here to read VIBE’s April 2019 cover story.

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Cardi B Explains Why She Wants To Trademark “Okurrr”

Cardi B hopes to secure as many “bags” as possible. In response to backlash and burning questions surrounding her decision to file to trademark “okurrr,” the 26-year-old rapper took to social media Friday (March 22) to defend her latest money move.

Since people tend to ask Bardi to use what has become her signature catch phrase, she figured that it was time to cash in. “You think I ain’t gonna’ profit off this sh*t? B*tch white folks do it all the motherf**king time,” she said. “So you gon’ be mad at me ‘cuz I want to get some motherf**king money?

“While I’m still hear I’ma secure all the fucking bags,” Cardi continued before adding that there are a “lot of ways to get rich” in 2019.

The Bronx native caught heat for wanting to trademark the word because she wasn’t the first to say “okurrr.” Cardi already revealed that she started using it after she heard Khloe Kardashian saying it, but the word was originally popularized in drag culture -- most notably by Rupaul’s Drage Race contestant Laganja Estranja, in 2014.

However, Rupaul attributed the word to Broadway actress, Laura Bell Bundy, who used it in YouTube skits dating back to 2010. In the skits, Bundy pretends to be a hairdresser named “Shocantelle Brown.”

Although Bundy caught criticism for her little character, which was deemed racist, she typically gets credit for bringing “okrrr” (different spelling) to the internet a full decade before Cardi made it mainstream.

No matter the origin, it looks like Cardi will be the only one profiting off of “okurrr.”


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Kanye West, EMI Working Towards Private Settlement

Kanye West and EMI could be close to settling their legal drama. Each party filed documents requesting a stay of the case to “explore the potential for a resolution,” The Blast reports.

West sued EMI in an effort to “gain freedom” from his contract, and to own his publishing. In the lawsuit, ‘Ye argued that his contract ended in 2010 under California law, which bars entertainers from being tethered to an agreement for more than seven years. The multi-Grammy winner, who signed the deal back in 2003, also accused the company of slavery because the contract doesn’t allow him to retire.

“Even if the contract were not lopsided in EMI’s favor (it is), even if its terms valued Mr. West’s artistic contributions in line with the spectacular success he has achieved for EMI (they do not), and even if EMI had not underpaid Mr. West what it owes him (EMI has), he would be entitled to be set free from its bonds,” the lawsuit reads.

EMI hit back with a countersuit filed in New York, instead of California. The suit pointed out that the 41-year-old rapper signed multiple contract extensions, in addition to accepting millions in advances.

According to The Blast, West and EMI now feel that putting a hold on the legal proceedings will be beneficial to both sides “and the Court by enabling the parties to engage in meaningful discussions in an attempt to resolve this action without having to incur the burden and expense of litigation and motion practice.”

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