Review: SZA’s ‘Ctrl’

So… I’m a SZA stan.

I’ve definitely been a SZA fan for several years now, but I’ve grown—and so has she. 2017 SZA is different. She has a much better understanding of who she is as a person and an artist. She’s one of the most talented songwriters in the industry. I simply must stan. Anyways. Ctrl is FINALLY here! The long-awaited studio debut from TDE’s first lady promptly showed up on June 8th around 11:04ish PM EST (but who’s counting??) via Apple Music and I’ve been listening ever since.

The project opens with SZA’s mom speaking of her fear of losing control. Relatable, mama Rowe. Throughout the project SZA is joined by her mom and grandma who discuss their thoughts on control and relationships.

From family audio clips to cheating stories to spoken secrets, Solana Rowe tells a story. And she talking some SHIT on this album. It’s pretty refreshing tbh.

The singer has said that Ctrl is more of a “life concept” than a title and this sentiment is shown throughout the project. Specifically, we see this with the first and last songs on her debut. Album opener “Supermodel” shows the songstress speaking of wild insecurities and savage revenge schemes that took place in a past relationship. Relatable. This is SZA talking about the fear of losing control, as her mom eloquently suggests in the beginning of the track. We all fear being out of control in love and life overall. Or maybe I’m just projecting. Whichever.

For SZA, this loss of control occurred when she found out her boyfriend was cheating on her in Vegas ON VALENTINE’S DAY. The ONE day that niggas know to, at the very least, not cheat on their partner. TRIFLING. So, naturally, Solana got back at him by sleeping with his best friend. Petty goals. OK, maybe she spazzed out a bit in her attempt to regain control of the situation (and her heart), but she did it. She fucked up (and he fucked up first, but whatever). It happened. And she’s owning that.

On the flip side, SZA speaks of coming to terms with her lack of control on the final track, “20 Something”. On the brilliantly honest track, the 26-year-old covers everything from general uncertainty for the future to outgrowing relationships to being an adult without a phone contract in your name. It hits pretty close to home. But that’s what makes it so amazing. That’s what makes the entire album a meaningful body of work. SZA speaks from a place of vulnerability and, subsequently, a place of honesty that’s so pure it’s almost immediately relatable. Or, at the very least, it’s recognizable. Sure, you may have never dealt with a man in the way that she describes on “The Weekend“, but you know that people do it every day. It’s real. SZA isn’t pretending to be someone she’s not. She’s not allowing her new record label to pull her strings. She’s telling her truth (and maybe yours too). No halvsies.

Perhaps Ctrl is so good because no other mainstream female singers are really writing about things like this. Sure, the subjects of being the other woman or getting cheated aren’t at all new, but her raw honesty makes it fresh. Her unique perspective. Her thoughtful storytelling.

Like I said, SZA is talking some serious shit on this album. She’s talking directly and clearly. There’s no time for anything to get misconstrued. Furthermore, there’s no point in using flowery language or worrying about others’ feelings. It’s her time to speak and, whether you like it or not, you’re going to listen. SZA is finally taking control. She’s finally relinquishing control. She’s finally admitting to herself (and the world, no big deal) that she cares too much about control in general. The budding star named SZA may be new to this, but she’s definitely here to stay.


On Repeat: “Supermodel”, “Garden (Say It Like Dat)”, “Broken Clocks” “20 Something”, THE ENTIRE ALBUM






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