SZA, the first female TDE artist, is in my opinion, incredibly underrated. I have been waiting on this album for a long ass time and it didn’t disappoint. SZA has released a couple of mixtapes and an EP in the past See SZA Run (2012); S (2013); and Z (2014) and all are extremely dope. I have played them to death and still like them years later. She’s been pretty quiet since, although has released the occasional track like “twoAM”, a response to OVO resident low-key fuckboy crooner PARTYNEXTDOOR’S late night jam “Come and See Me feat. Drake”. As well as this she collaborated with Rihanna on the track “Consideration” which featured on Anti in 2016.
Recently she released singles “Drew Barrymore” and “Love Galore feat. Travis Scott” followed by “Broken Clocks”. As soon as I heard “Love Galore” I was hyped. I listened to it on repeat for weeks counting down the release date of her album which she celebrated with a special release party event in NYC on June 9th. Since the album came out I have been listening to it almost exclusively. This project is extremely smooth, well rounded, with clever interesting layered beats, transitions and the occasional Drake reference. Ctrl feels even more matured and positive compared to previous releases and it is obvious SZA took the time needed to produce this album. There are features by label mates Isaiah Rashad (also very underrated), and rap king Kendrick Lamar. However despite their talent as rappers, these features seem completely overshadowed by SZA. No disrespect to them but SZA just shines throughout. Solana’s vocals are clear, large and ethereal and move between rap-singing and belting beautiful vocal runs effortlessly.
As a 20-something woman I relate so deeply to the feelings she explores throughout the album. Struggling with difficult relationships, love, wisdom, freedom and uncertainty, femininity, self-exploration, and discovering her place in the world as a young adult. Honestly, all the tracks on this album are stellar with notable stand outs and personal favourites, “The Weekend” a thick, sexy, slow jam, and “Wavy feat. James Fauntleroy” a one-minute taste of bliss. “Garden (Say It Like Dat)”, “Broken Clocks”, and “Normal Girl” are also stand out tracks. As with her previous projects there are samples of conversation. On Ctrl they are of SZA, her mother, grandmother, and her aunt Audrey which adds a nice personal touch in the same manner as Solange’s feature of her parents Tina and Matthew, and Master P (A Seat at the Table, 2016), Beyonce’s feature of Blue Ivy (Beyonce, 2013) and Jhene Aiko’s feature of her brother Miyagi and daughter Namiko Love (Souled Out, 2014). This might be my favourite album of the year. SZA signed to RCA in April so I hope to see a whole lot more quality releases from her in the future. Highly Recommended 10/10.