SZA — Preview I

There’s an unapologetically divine and feminine quality to Ctrl, Solána Rowe’s, a.k.a. SZA’s, debut album, like she’s thinking out loud about growing up in a dreamy singsong. Some musical influences she has includes Billie Holiday, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bjork, and/or Wu-tang Clan. These are music influences on a large spectrum and goes to show SZA’s progressive, unique elements that is brought to the music world. On Ctrl, you can hear SZA pulling in all these influences, building herself up and letting herself exist and breathe.

“I know on ‘Supermodel’ when I say I need you, each time I said that I was saying something different, I was talking to someone different,” she told Vulture over the phone, the day before Ctrl’s release. At the time, James Comey was delivering his Senate testimony. “I’m really scared, because no one’s mentioning Pence!” she said. “And it’s like, we have to get rid of the whole shit! We can’t just get rid of one!”


Ctrl begins and ends with her mother’s voice, a structure that allows SZA to talk to herself more freely. “My mom has spent her whole life living in openness and acceptance and I really never understood,” she says. There’s a special kind of generational inheritance that comes from black moms advising black daughters. It’s one that Beyoncé and Solange have returned to time and again, including snippets of their conversations with their mother in their work. But SZA, 26, is at the center of this record, using her mother and grandmother’s words to help her work on her own heart. “It’s not like you can practice a little self-love, and then you just have it for a lifetime. No, it’s more gradual. You’ve got to start this hobby — this habit — of feeding yourself love,” she says.

Sometimes SZA hates men but tolerates them — “Love Galore” is all playful misandry that swears off men, “Weekend” has her pitching an idea of time-sharing a player — and other times she’s pushing herself to find what kind of love she needs and is willing to give. On “Normal Girl” she wonders whose approval she needs, and admits to wanting it: “Wish I was the type of girl you take over to mama,” she sings. “The type of girl, I know my daddy, he’d be proud of.”




August 9th, 2017

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