Angel Haze brings another LGBTQ voice to the song that took home Best Video with a Social Message at the 2013 VMAs. In lieu of Macklemore's gay/straight alliance verses, Haze chose to rap about her own coming out experiences. "At age 13 my mother knew I wasn’t straight," she begins. Tales of being locked away from the world because her mother would "rather see a part of me die than me thrive" lead into her realization that "you’re driven by your choice is an optical illusion / here’s to understanding that it’s not always confusion." Mary Lambert's chorus follows, and it's a good thing it does. Having not one, but two queer voices strengthens Haze's earnestness.
Haze could have chosen to tell her story over another beat, but she chose "Same Love," a song that received plenty of flack when it won at the VMAs. Take Le1f, a rapper from NYC, who had a serious bone to pick after Macklemore (who is heterosexual) received praise for being an LGBTQ voice when plenty of talented people within the community have been doing the same thing — without the elevated celebrity platform.
And, while Haze doesn't blatantly call out the double standard, there's a sense that it's written in her decision to use the song itself. For one, she answered the question Le1f raised, and raises a few more. Can the music scene, let alone the rap world, accept a pansexual artist? Will her orientation be misconstrued for bisexuality? Why — and here's the best part — does orientation even matter? "I am whoever I am when I am it," she raps.
At the end of the day, it's just music. Whether one version speaks to a struggling individual more than the other is irrelevant. What matters is that there are now two voices offering similar takes on the movement. The message is out there, people are listening, and that's empowerment enough.
Photo: Courtesy of Island Records.