Angel Haze is no stranger to leveraging her platform – and her art- to tackle uncomfortable subjects. She’s also no stranger to remixing previous works to say something totally new and necessary in a way that only she can.
From The Heist, Macklemore’s incredibly successful second studio album, and collaboration with producer Ryan Lewis, the original song has a lot of heart. It’s received wide radio play and praise, including the VMAs for best video with a social message. In a recent blog post describing the importance of the song, Macklemore said:
Every song I’ve ever put out, I have believed in. But Same Love was different. It was a moment that was way bigger than us. Watching teenagers come up to me after shows, with tears in their eyes, gasping for breathe in attempts to find the right words to explain to me that they came out to their family after hearing the song…that reaffirms everything. That. Right there. That is the reason why I do this. That is no publicity stunt. That is no calculated move. That is art affecting the quality of people’s lives, the way that other artists influence mine.
Fan love and commercial acclaim aside, Macklemore has also received considerable grief for the song with some questioning the merits of a straight artist creating a gay rights ballad.
I can’t count myself among those kind of critics. I was introduced to Same Love by a gay solider whose sincere and pure appreciation of the song was evident when she asked me if it’d be okay if she replayed it during a car ride that we shared last spring. She was a friend of a friend and I didn’t know her but in her explanation of the song I knew that the song had impacted her.
I wouldn’t want to take that away from anybody.
Buzzfeed proclaims the remix “finally does justice” to the original song.
I don’t know about all that.
That said, this Angel Haze remix is wonderful and important for its own reasons.
Leveraging the same chorus as the original song – featuring vocals from out artist Mary Lambert - Angel delivers a powerful account of her own struggles with her sexuality.
She begins the track with a warning to her mother, saying: “Hi Mom. I’m really scared right now- but, I have to…”
From there she holds nothing back.
I’ve transcribed her verses as best as I could:
At age 13 my mother knew I wasn’t straight
She didn’t understand but she had so much to say
She sat me on the couch looked me straight in my face and said
You’ll burn in hell or probably die of AIDS
It’s funny now but at 13 it was pain
To be almost sure of who you are but have it ripped away
And I’m sorry if it’s too real for some of you to fathom
But hate for who you love is not exactly what you’d imagine
And I guess it was disastrous
Cause everything that happened afterwards was just madness
Locked away for two years to keep me on the inside
Because she’d rather see a part of me die then me thrive
And it’s tougher when it’s something you can’t deny
And ignorance teaches us it’s something that you decide
You’re driven by your choices an optical illusion
Here’s to understanding that it’s not always confusion
Cause I can’t change
I walk the halls of my school and I’m seeing kids hide
Behind walls and footballs and things like pride
I see innocent children suffer beneath bruises
Suffer beneath every single hand that chooses
Fuck your religion
There are no lakes of fire we’re here on earth
And the only thing to do is put love first
And so I stand for the boy who died by his hand
To the sound of his father screaming woman loves man
This is Adam and Eve
Not Adam and Steve
And I stand for the girl with the cuts up her sleeve
And her heart in her hand
And a chip on her shoulder
And I stand for it all until ignorance is over
This is for you
For knowing who you are
For never letting your magic
Outside of your heart
And understand that
Things. do. change.
I accept you for you
When I don’t understand
And I love you for you
This is just who I am…
I accepted you for you/When I didn’t understand
Now love me for me/ Cause this is who I am
Here’s a message to the people who just don’t get it
Love is Love
There is no difference
Not a medication to fix it
There is no prescription
No rehab to visit
It is not an addiction
And it’s selfless
It’s yours and everybody elses
So don’t badger and abuse the solemnly defenseless
See us as yourself
There’s no equality in difference
Until we all get it we’ll be drowning in the same blood
Despite orientation we all feel the same love
Until we all get it we’ll be drowning in the same blood/ Despite orientation we all feel the same love
We are boxed in and labeled
Before we’re ever able to speak who we believe we are
Or who we dream we’ll become
Like drumbeats forever changing their rhythm
I’m living today as someone I had not yet become yesterday
And tonight I’ll only borrow pieces of who I am today to carry with me to tomorrow
No I’m not gay
No I’m not straight and I sure as hell am not bisexual
I am whomever I am when I am it
Loving whoever you are when the stars shine
And whoever you’ll be when the sun rise
So here’s to being able
Here’s to love
Here’s to loving just because
Here’s to acceptance
Here’s to never fearing the fear of rejection
Here’s to love and never neglecting who it is you feel you are
Here’s to bullies because beatings cannot last forever
Here’s to the moment that you realize things do get better
Here’s to the parents who will get it when it’s too late
Here’s to second chances
Here’s to new fate
Here’s to every single moment you’ve ever had to hide you
Here’s to the single star shinning bright inside you
Asking you to guide you
Here’s to who you’ll be when you’ve figured it all out
Here’s to momentary doubt
Here’s to feelings cause we all feel it the same
Here’s to the moment that things will change
Cause we all feel love
We all feel it the same
Here’s to love
Here’s to change
The first time the chorus hits as Mary Lambert sings the words “And I can’t change” Angel Haze struggles to speak the words herself– the two women sharing and broadcasting the sentiment simultaneously. The juxtaposition is incredibly powerful.
This song is her story. She’s able to leverage this thing that exists– this ode to love– and inject more love into it.
In doing so she’s able to offer a commentary on self-love.
I’m so glad that Angel Haze exists. As a human being and as an artist– I’m glad that she’s out there and unapologetic about who she is. I’m glad that she was brave enough to release this track.
That doesn’t take away from the original song or from Macklemore’s contribution to the debate by releasing this song in the first place.
It’s all the same love.
Regardless of who’s preaching it.