Rapper Angel Haze planned on - and succeeded in - making a good impression in her first visit to Texas and Austin's South By Southwest music festival.
The New York-based musician is playing multiple shows this week, including Last Call With Carson Daly. "I guess I'm expecting to make a name for myself in America, to start and begin landscaping that process," she says. "South By Southwest is the door-opener for that."
For her first set, midday Wednesday at the Spotify House, Haze virtually kicked that door open. Her first song, Werkin Girls from her 2012 New York EP, quickly evolved from a typically midtempo rap to a rapid-fire phonetic barrage. "I be at my peak, I am not the one to be mastered," it went. "I'm the one to be after, I'm sweeping you while I'm dustin', I just popped up out the blue, I'm spontaneously combustin'."
That's a pretty accurate description and indicative of how Haze came to be Spotify's midday main attraction. "The ways we make our programming decisions about things like this is we look at our data and figure out who is trending and who is doing well," says Sandy Smallens, Spotify's head of artist marketing. "We were starting to see a lot of stream activity on Angel Haze, for instance. So we said, 'Hey, let's have her down at the Spotify House.' "
The Spotify House, located at 1100 East Cesar Chavez St., has at least three artists daily through Friday, typically with an acoustic act in the morning, a more electric or mainstream act at 3 p.m. and DJ sets at night, Smallens says. Premium Spotify members get free food and drinks. All can play ping-pong, invade a photo booth and log on to free Wi-Fi.
Having announced her arrival in "Austin (expletive) Texas," the Michigan-born Raykeea Wilson, 21, told the crowd "it felt only right to bring you New York" before singing the title song of her EP. "I am zero past a hundred, spitting like a dragon that went missing from a dungeon," she sang of the song written shortly after moving to New York six months ago. "I was literally on a rooftop on Covert Street," she said.
During another song, she left the shade of the stage and went into the enthusiastic crowd warmed by the sun, rapping all the way.
Signed last August by Universal Republic, she has an album in the works that she hopes is released in "a couple months. I don't want to give it a date because I don't have time for the pushback type of stuff," she said in an interview after her Spotify House performance. "I'm working with Markus Dravs exclusively, so he is like executive producing my album. He's like a sergeant or something. He's such a great person but he's so militant. He makes me do things that I would never be brave enough to do on my own. So it's amazing to have someone like that in your corner for an album."
You can download her music on her website; many of her mixtape songs address a history of sexual abuse. She tries to give a voice about that to other victims. "I've been there," she says.
Haze has more festivals, including Lollapalooza, on her plate. "I'm really trying to make it count."