Angel Haze has had a rocky year. The 23-year-old rapper — who is agender and goes by gender-neutral pronouns — overdosed and entered rehab in the spring, following a breakup with model girlfriend Ireland Baldwin. 

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The Detroit native shot to fame after the release of “Dirty Gold” in 2013 and returns with “Back To The Woods,” which shows the artist’s commitment to work through the pain. “The woods is a metaphor for a place of gratitude, and the only place you can be free,” Haze explains. “It’s a place completely unaltered, so going back to the woods is like going back to a form of myself that didn’t allow anyone to f—k with me. … It can be a hard place to find when you are in the trenches of the world.”

Fleeting emotions
Happiness has never come easy for Haze. The rapper feels happiness is more of a mood than a state of being. “It’s fleeting, like every emotion we all feel,” Haze explains. Haze is making a point to relish in happy times more, by getting a tattoo of a flowerpot, adding a new flower every time the performer feels joy.

“I think living is the best way of getting through anything,” Haze says. “If I try to run away from what I was experiencing the past year, I would not have grown. I see how [the world is] and I want to change it so vigorously.”
 
Until now, Haze’s music has focused on how harsh and dark the world is. But this new album is about finding freedom in the midst of that reality. “In the past, I just made people feel suicidal. Now, I’m giving them hope and that’s an amazing feeling,” Haze says.
 
 
Finding freedom in love
Haze’s perception of romantic love has changed as well. The performer tells us that in the past relationships were borderline “psychotic” or at the very least self-serving. “I learned the looseness of love and how it falls through the cracks,” Haze now says.
 
“It was important for me to accept that everything around me is acting in love — even if it’s not — and feel that.” To that end, Haze says the next relationship will allow for more freedom. “The only love I want is the love that lets me pursue everything my heart desires,” Haze says. “You can be someone’s cocoon for a short amount of time, but then you have to let them get out. Love allows you to transform, and have that freedom.”
 
Home is a place to hide
When Haze was a child, there were times when the artist was homeless. But even though Haze now has a place to live, that feeling of being displaced has stayed.
 
 “At times I wake up at 4 a.m. and shoot up, wondering where the f—k am I? I don’t know what [having a home] feels like yet. Being outside with the trees, being able to breathe somewhere that no one can find me, that feels like home to me. I’ve gotten pretty good at being in the woods.”
 
If you go:
Nov. 23, 7 p.m.
S.O.B.
204 Varick St., 212-243-4940
www.sobs.com
 
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