Album of the Week: Sza Returns with Ctrl'd Precision
Written By: Chantal Gainous // IG: @planetchachi
TDE-housed R&B singer SZA, a 26-year-old whose real name is Solána, has dropped her first studio album, CTRL, and it's musically consistent and lyrically unpredicatable. Mixing in conversational interludes of her mother and grandmother's perspective on the album, the singer spends 14 tracks losing control and reminding you to gas yourself up every once in a while. Gone are the breathy metaphors from Soundcloud mixtapes long ago and enters a sexy, carefree SZA who gives us the same nostalgia of empty promises and endless misadventures, à la Garden State. Her lyrical stories about boys, self-love, booty size, and wishing for more heals the soul and unwinds the mind.
Can you remind me of my gravity? - Garden (Say It Like Dat)
The first single, "Drew Barrymore," dropped back in January and was just a taste to know that SZA was alive and well - especially after label confusion in 2016 about the album's release. But the second single brought perfectly planned anticipation. A music video release, "Love Galore," featured the verses and shirtlessness of Travis Scott (one of the four album features, all of who were male), reminding us of that girl, whose name we couldn't pronounce (it's Siz-zah, much like Wu Tang's RZA, who also originally announced the album date release) singing sultry back vocals on Rihanna's ANTI song, "Consideration."
The song seems strategically distant now, but it has clearly placed SZA in front of an audience who has been waiting for an album exactly like hers. This is a story about a wistful and vulnerable girl who's super cool - but full of mistakes.
SZA doesn't have much to apologize for though. She takes no time to call out the men who have wronged her and sings boldly about the his and her mistakes on songs like "Love Galore," "Wavy," and "Doves In the Wind."
"Why you bother me when you know you know better?" - love galore feat. travis scott
"Garden (Say It Lie Dat)" takes a break from the descent of petty, and for some moments admits the enveloping desire to be the woman that a man could fall in love with, bringing back the ache that was heard on the opener track, "Supermodel."
Mentor Kung Fu Kenny is no stranger to SZA collaborations, and is still proselytizing the power of p*sy, this time through the featured track "Doves in the Wind."
Backed by deep bass counts and a simple sound, SZA nails the growing pains of a 20-something woman who wants to be something greater than her flaws, adjusting her crooked crown along the way.
SZA will be headlining Afropunk: Brooklyn August 26 + 27.
No official tour dates have been announced.
Favorite Song: "Garden (Say it like Dat)"
Shower Song: "Broken Clocks"
The Slow-Whine: "The Weekend"