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If anyone should be rapping “Started From the Bottom,” it should be Angel Haze. The 23-year-old Detroit native, who had a rocky upbringing, grew up homeless, lived in the woods, left their label and leaked their own debut album Dirty Gold, which ultimately could have cost them everything, but what is everything to a person who knows what nothing feels like? That quite possibly was one of the best decisions Haze made, for it thrust them viral, and taught us what staying true to oneself really meant.

Angel Haze returned this year with their second EP, Back to the Woods, an honest and raw reflection of the ups and downs of their life and the growth that stemmed from those instances. The EP is also glimpse into the psyche of the artist - it’s a wild world. There is a certain level of grit and hungry energy that exudes from the album like on “Wolves” and “Babe Ruthless;” however, there is definitely a soft interior seeping through when it comes down to “Moonrise Kingdom,” and “Dark Places,”songs that touch on darker themes like suicide, their strict religious upbringing, their rocky relationship with their mother, and nights spent under the moon in the woods finding peace and a drive to chase their dreams.

Battle Cry feat. Sia

AMFM: So, you just recently came out with your newest album, Back to the Woods, what are you trying to stay with the title of your album? What does new album mean to you?

ANGEL HAZE: When I was growing up I grew up pretty homeless. I lived in Detroit until I was nine, then I moved every year from there. I lived in four different homeless shelters. When I was 16, I finally got my own place; it was a situation in the middle of these woods that was right along the trail of tears. Me and my mom would argue a lot - I was a severely fucked up teen. The point is, when I was in nature I learned everything that's natural coexists in a complete amount of peace. Like you never see the trees throw a tantrum when the rain starts because they understand that they need it to grow. When I was out there I never got bothered by animals. I slept at night in the forest and woke up completely unscathed, no spider bites, no anything. Nothing out there wants to harm you. The only time I've known truth is when I accepted what naturally was and didn't try to contort it and twist it into something I could accept and justify. That's the woods, that just means back to nature, back to the true art of life. We know it's real and we don't have to question it.

AMFM: How did you come to this realization after your first EP, Dirty Gold?

HAZE: I love Dirty Gold. It's an honest body of work. All of the lyrics came from me, and everything came from me, except for the direction of the record. That record I did a lot of different shit with a lot of different people, but none of it fit me, and so when I did Back to the Woods it was important to make sure that you can hear me in the songs cause I feel like Dirty Gold, is a lot more preachy than Back to the Woods is. Back to the Woods is very honest. It’s like I don’t give a fuck about what you’re doing, it’s all about me. The label tried to make me seem like I was this savior, like I had to be a role model. You have to write songs about Jesus, suicide...blah blah blah, this is your audience or whatever, but my audience is who I am. And that didn't reflect me; I had to make it myself. But there are no hard feelings. That shit made me better. If I hadn’t done it, I’d be fucking scum. And that’s how I grew. The tough shit grows you.

AMFM: How do you think you have evolved as a musician/artist on this album?

HAZE: If you can't hear that shit then you crazy. Haha. I spent a lot of time honing my shit and making it mine. When I signed to Universal they took the reins almost. When I left, I was like I gotta be me. When you separate yourself from who you are, you have no choice but to create someone you’re comfortable with. My music sounds comfortable; it sounds like I'm finally getting to who I am. And that's dope, and being honest about who I am.

AMFM: Who is that person? What are you trying to say about yourself?

HAZE: I'm a piece of shit yo that’s what my music says! Angel Haze is a piece of shit, but I'm trying to grow and that's the most important part. Like I don't intend to be this shitty person forever because I'm just learning and I'm young. And I'm reaching for something that's bigger than what I've ever been taught? That's who that person is.

AMFM: Can you elaborate though? Why do you think you are you shit?

HAZE: I spend a lot of my time wrecking my brain over shit I've done before. I live in this permanent state of nostalgia. And if you can't look forward, you look backwards and you hurt a lot of people because you're not in reality. So I'm like a little fucked up, but I'm getting better. The only therapy comes by way of living.

Back to the Woods EP

AMFM: You had a tumultuous childhood, how did that make you into the person that you are today and did you channel that in your music?

HAZE: I think my childhood made me extremely observational. I understand that in life you have to come to every conclusion by yourself and it has to be true to yourself. When you think about religion, people follow it so blindly and it’s often up to the interpretation of the person who educates them on religion. Everything is so different because it’s indicative to who you are. I don’t despise religion, I despise the structural shit. I think spirituality is good. And that shaped my life in ways that are unbelievable. It allows me to see everything equally. It doesn’t matter if you believe God, Buddha, or Allah or whoever, I don’t mind what other people believe in...You need something to believe in. Life has taught me a lot about believing in shit that’s true.

AMFM: You’re a big fan of Poe. What is it about Edgar Allen Poe that you like?

HAZE: I love him! He's the dude. He started my entire everything. When I started writing, I read The Raven. He's the king of horror core romance poetry, and that's what my music represents, a horrible romantic kind of thing. One of my favorite quotes by him is, “There's no true beauty without some strangeness in the proportion and I think everything in life is strange and it’s beautiful that way.

AMFM: You have such great relationship with your fans, how is that? Feeling that energy on stage?

HAZE: I love them, those little fuckboys. If you think about it, like man, it’s just insane because my crowd is so diverse. I look out and I see every fucking thing you could think of racially. It’s cool to reach everybody just on one universal level, because that’s what I’m working for. Art is the ignition for peace,  all we have to do is start the conversation. We're in this space and it’s like the completely open free flowing fluid place where I don’t  want anyone to feel judged, empty, or guilty.. I think that’s how we party. When I come on stage, I’m like I don’t give a fuck what you think and that’s the energy I want everyone to have. I love them, they’re super cool. And they show me their tits dude hahaha 50 titties, I love tits, they’re so great.