"Tell me again how you're planning to beat them / By being as much like them as you possibly can." That's a line from the title track of Default Genders' briefly Internet-dividing , self-released 2013 EP Stop Pretending, but it's acutely relevant when watching Angel Haze's new video.
The rapidfire rapper has gradually been shifting from her fiercely intelligent, emotionally open beginnings toward rhymes as nasty in subject matter as they are in verbal dexterity — see her breakout track "New York," the similarly blistering "Werkin' Girls," or her unfortunate beef with Azealia Banks. From her upcoming album Dirty Gold, "Echelon (It's My Way)" is sonically different from many other MCs, with producer Markus Dravs (Arcade Fire, Coldplay, Björk) layering sunny synths and flamenco guitar flickers over skittering trap percussion. But suddenly Haze is proclaiming "it's my way" while bragging about money, drugs, and Fashion Week just like everybody else.
The video shows Haze hanging outside a convenience store with scantily clad dancers in trashy-chic outfits straight out of central Harmony Korine casting. Worst of all, though, in embracing all of these conventions, Haze has lost most of what made her compelling, aside from her still-undeniable ability to flat-out rap — but it's not the real-rap-bro crowd she's courting here. The MC who two years ago mused about wanting to win by being "just like them," on the title track of a mixtape that's no longer online, may have gotten her wish.