Angel Haze is among a few ferocious rappers threatening the established iconography of hip-hop. The Brooklyn MC is transgressive in both her influences and content: the way those before her came up on Kanye or Nas, Haze is the product of Drake's cultural dominance. It shows in her flow - when short of breath, both she and Drake yield to a pinched delivery - and method, as heard on this introspective, R&B-smeared EP, her fourth free release in two years. At 14 tracks, it's more like an LP.
But the Drake thing seems more subconscious than intentional. Reservation is more overtly indebted to the left-field beats and fast-talking, whip-smart rapping of Missy Elliott. Nicole Wray, Elliott's former protege, resurfaces from obscurity on Wicked Moon, and Haze reworks Aaliyah's Hot Like Fire, a Missy co-production. Even the double-dutch thump of New York, haunted by a snippet of Gil Scott-Heron, is a loose redux of Pass That Dutch.
Despite all of its references, Reservation is original, cohesive, absorbing and Haze's most polished release to date.
Top track: New York