Many people have heard the amazing voice of SZA on some of the hottest contemporary R&B tracks to have been released over the last few years but she had not fully developed into the artist she had planned to be. Yeah, she may have landed features on songs with Rihanna, Wale, and Kendrick Lamar, but no one really knew exactly who she was besides being a “feature” artist. She was ready to touch topics many women in music would not dare to explain. SZA decided that it was the time to take her career seriously as an independent artist. It was time to build her own brand.
SZA’s debut album, Ctrl, has emerged to become one of the most self-finding and praised albums of the year. The bluntness of her music allows fans to actually get a taste of who she is. SZA released hit singles including. The Weekend, Love Galore, Broken Clocks, and Normal Girl. She received recognition from some of the greatest artists in the industry including Beyonce, Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar. But how did she come in the path of these amazing artist?
Growing up, many people knew her as Solana. Solana was a lot more reserved than the artist we know her as today. Because she grew up in a household with two amazingly strong religions, Christianity and Islam. She was not really exposed to things that would get her mind off of religion and school. As she became a little older, her brother would sneak her music every now and then which she fell in love with. After graduating from high school, Solana found herself in and out of college until she realized it just was not the path in life that she wanted to take. By this time, she had finally decided that making music was her calling.
After releasing two soundtracks/mixtapes, SZA had caught the attention of one of the best rappers in this generation, Kendrick Lamar. Kendrick decided to sign her to his own inclusive record label, Top Dawg Entertainment. This came as a surprise to many because SZA happened to be the first female signed to the label. This deal lasted around 3 years until she decided that she would partner with both TDE and RCA as her record labels. Around this time, Ctrl was released.
There are a total of 14 songs on this album that has become a hot commodity. Each song gives a side of SZA that many of her fans have never seen before. She even revealed that this album was the artist she had been trying to find throughout her career. The album expresses emotions that almost any kind of female have felt during the period when they were trying to find themselves. The intro song for the album, ‘Supermodel’, expressed feelings of hurt and insecurity over men who have seen her as not enough of a good woman for them. As the song goes on, expressing her insecurities helps her release some of them.
Two songs on the album that relate a lot to each other are ‘The Weekend’ and ‘Love Galore’. Aside from them being the most popular songs on the album, they have both expressed relationships she has been in that have possibly been toxic. The Weekend describes what it is like to be in the relationship like a love triangle. The only thing is SZA takes on the role of the side chick, who is dominant, non-recessive, and proud of only having the man (of the love triangle) for the weekend. Love Galore, which features the artist Travis Scott, gives the perspective of being out of a relationship but wanting to be apart of it again as well as realizing that she deserves a lot better than the guy who did her dirty.
Yet another side of SZA is revealed through her songs ‘Normal Girl’, ‘Drew Barrymore’, and ‘Broken Clocks’. ‘Normal Girl’ describes what SZA wishes she could be to her lover. She yet reveals some more of her insecurities that her lover seems to see. SZA wants her clarification from her lover because he is who she confides in. ‘Drew Barrymore’, named after the famous actress is about living a life where nothing is in control and you are just letting things happen as they come. ‘Broken Clocks’ can relate a lot to any high school girl. Trying to focus on both school and your social life can get intimidating until you really choose what matters to you most. And you can not forget to mention the encouraging words from SZA’s mom. “If you don’t like me, you don’t have to fool with me. You don’t have to talk to me or treat me mean. I don’t have to treat you mean. I just stay out of your way. That’s the way you work that one.”
I believe that this album really showed her fans what she was capable of by showcasing her bold tones and feelings throughout the album. Fans of both R&B and Hip Hop have been looking for new artists to fulfill their musical needs by speaking of topics that most are shameful of. Women especially, feel like they should not air their emotions because they will be seen as classy. SZA pushes that stereotype to
Overall, this album deserves a round of applause because it gives you a lot of clarification on who SZA is as an artist and it can also help you find the person that you are.