US rapper Angel Haze is still confident her debut album Dirty Gold will reach the sales numbers it deserves despite leaking it online after a dispute with her labels Island (UK) and Republic Records (US).
The LP was tipped for a March 2014 release but instead came out on December 30 after Haze put it up on Soundcloud on December 18, frustrated by the “stagnancy” of those working on the project, who had originally promised a 2013 release date.
Michigan-born Haze was one of the most talked about artists of 2012 after self-releasing her much revered 14-track mix tape Reservation for free.
A record deal and then her New York EP followed in November and picked up fans in the likes of BBC Radio 1’s Zane Lowe and Nick Grimshaw and NME. The hype continued throughout 2013 when she reached third place on BBC’s Sound of 2013 poll.
Haze spent a month working with producer Markus Dravs (Arcade Fire, Coldplay, Bjork) and finished recording Dirty Gold in the summer of 2013 but the label decided to delay its release until this year, prompting the artist to leak it herself.
“For me it’s always been either you do it, or I do it myself,” she told Music Week. “If you’re putting your career or your life in the hands of someone that you’re supposed to trust and is supposed to work hard for you and they fail then I feel like it’s only right that you take matters into your own hands and that’s what I did.”
Dented by the self-leak and the fact that physical copies won't arrive until later this month, digital downloads of Dirty Gold only shifted 857 copies in its first week, entering No.196 in the UK Albums Chart.
Unfazed by the numbers however, Haze says the marketing strategy is now “going backwards” and is preparing for a year of college and radio tours around the US and promotion to ensure the album sells this year.
“[My label said they] didn’t expect it to sell like 15,000 in the first week because I decided to drop it in the last week of December where only heavy hitters make the final sales,” she said. “They said yeah, your first week sales are going to be shit but in the coming weeks we’ll see them increase and it’s cool.
“When I said I wanted to go for December 30 because I didn’t want to not keep my word to my fans, I knew that that would result in thousands of my fans still not knowing that the album was out because they’ve seen the March release [online] and it's confusing.
“I knew I was going to have to play catch up and bring everyone up to speed on what’s going on and do all the extra work and I was okay with that. It means I won’t sell as much in the first few weeks and it doesn’t bother me. It’s a lot of work but I never set myself up for anything I’m not prepared for.”
Her first single Battle Cry (featuring Sia) has reached the C List on BBC Radio 1Xtra and Capital Xtra as well as being played on BBC Radio 1. Another track from the album Deep Sea Diver has reached over 94,000 downloads on iTunes in the US.
The album itself has been generally well received by critics, with The Guardian and Metro awarding it four out of five. Now out in the UK, US, Canada and Mexico – it will arrive for the rest of the world on January 13.