When Angel Haze leaked her first studio album Dirty Gold on Dec. 18, she seemed fed up. In a tweet publicizing the leak, the 22-year-old rapper explained, “Since they don’t want to put it out this year, I will. Here’s the album. HERE IS DIRTY GOLD. I hope you all enjoy it.” She also included a link in her tweet — sent out to her 150,000 followers — which led to a SoundCloud stream of her 12-track album. The “they” she was referring to were her labels, Island Records and Republic Records.
Preceding the leak, Angel Haze, whose real name is Raykeea Wilson, tweeted her frustration with Island and Republic for pushing her to finish the record by summer, only to delay the release date further into next year. (Dirty Gold was initially slated for a January 2014 release, but Island later pushed it back to March.)
It wasn’t long before Dirty Gold was pulled from SoundCloud’s site, but Angel Haze’s act of rebellion seems to have paid off. Later that night she tweeted, “My labels have agreed to release Dirty Gold December 30th. Uk & US. (Rest of the world, we are coming for you as well). Thank you all. Night.”
Island Records followed up with a statement of their own: “Expressing frustration and upset about not being able to get her album out to fans in 2013 as previously promised, Angel Haze took matters into her own hands leaking the record via Twitter. Haze’s actions have forced her label’s hand who’ve since announced they will make the digital version of Dirty Gold available.”
This is hardly the first time an artist has publicly voiced their frustration with a label about the status of a record. As BuzzFeed writes in their in-depth look at the problem, there are various reasons why an album’s release can be repeatedly pushed back, including labels merging with other labels or bigger artists sucking up the label’s resources.
For a few unfortunate artists, delays can go on much longer — sometimes for years, even indefinitely. Musical acts like Lupe Fiasco, M.I.A., JoJo and scores of others have all publicly battled with their labels over the delayed release of a record. Some artists resort to lawsuits to sever ties completely with their labels; others make use of clauses written into their contracts to part ways.
Yet Angel Haze chose a more radical approach, seemingly follow in the footsteps of the hardcore rap group Death Grips who last year leaked their entire album No Love Deep Web online after Epic Records delayed its release. The group also used SoundCloud to stream the album and promoted the leak via Twitter. Yet, that leak wasn’t removed from the internet and Epic went on to drop the act from its roster.
Releasing the album was definitely a risk for Haze, who’s known for the tracks “Werkin’ Girls” and “Echelon (It’s My Way).” But as Beyoncé clearly demonstrated last week, with the surprise release of her visual album Beyoncé, sometimes it’s the bold move — not conventional music industry protocol — that pays off. That seems to be the case here. Not only has the rapper gotten the 2013 release she was after, she’s also managed to garner a considerable amount of attention and hype around the Dirty Gold, which is bound to make her label happy.