Angel Haze's remix of Macklemore's "Same Love" raises important questions over who has the right to speak up on behalf of the LGBT community. Mackelmore's music video traces the life of a young man of color struggling with his sexuality that falls in love and gets married to another man. It ends with a touching scene decades later, with the two men holdings hands in a hospital room. Their weddings rings are the last thing that we see.
In fact, the entire video is heart-warming. Macklemore raps about how the civil rights movement encouraged the gay rights movement. Flashbacks to clips of Martin Luther King, Jr. are interspersed throughout the video. Despite all of Macklemore's good intentions about raising awareness of LGBT rights, the music video is too idyllic. The two men could have easily been replaced with any straight couple — which was precisely Macklemore's message. According to Macklemore, gay lovers are just like straight lovers — they're "one of us." This is just as problematic as arguing, for example, that minorities should be accepted because they're "like us" or because they conform to "our" norms, rather than appreciating different cultures for what they are.
Angel Haze's remix of "Same Love" tells her struggle with sexuality (which she describes as "pansexual") more honestly — a horrible, graphic experience rather than a rosy or fond memory. The lyrics are shocking, direct, and uncensored —"Fuck your religion, fuck constitutions, fuck superstitions," she raps. As a result of all of these structures, "we are boxed in and labeled." Her lyrics are more evocative of Malcolm X than Martin Luther King, Jr. But her message is peaceful: "Here's to love … Here's to acceptance … Here's to bullies … Here's to parents who will get it when it's too late."
Angel Haze has built a career out of sharing painful and intimate details of her life through remixes of other rappers' songs. Last year, she shared her repeated rape and sexual abuse in a remix of Eminem's "Cleaning out the Closet." In an interview with The Guardian, she talked about how the church in Detroit where she was raised was more like a cult and how that drove her to move to New York City. She has always made a point in her remixes to keep it real. As Tom Hawking wrote in FlavorWire, Angel Haze's version of "Same Love" is a "very, very real version," unlike the original, which resembled a "plastic anthem."
Although she expressed reservations on her Twitter page about releasing this remix, reactions to her remix have been overwhelmingly positive — including Macklemore himself, who tweeted: "Listen to @AngelHaze open up about her sexuality on @Macklemore's #SameLove freestyle: http://blbrd.co/HgcVID <- powerful." I highly encourage everyone to take a few minutes off today and listen to this amazing remix! It will change the way we see the struggles of the LGBT community. It'll help us to see it as it is, rather than through a filtered and censored lens.