by Carla Bynum
Solána Rowe, better known by her stage name SZA, has a fan base that steadily continues to grow. She first made waves with the release of her debut mixtape See. SZA. Run in 2012 which was followed by her second mixtape S. In 2013, she signed a record deal with TDE and subsequently released the EP Z in 2014. On April 28th, she announced that she signed her first major label recording contract with RCA Records.
Fans have waited impatiently and tirelessly for the release of her debut album and it is finally here.
On June 9th, she released the album Ctrl which is supported by three singles: “Drew Barrymore,” “Love Galore,” and “Broken Clocks.”
“Love Galore” was first teased on SZA’s Instagram on November 28th and officially released on April 27th. She sings about a past fling and questions what he wanted with her if his intentions weren’t pure. The song also features Travis $cott and has been steadily making its rounds on the airwaves.
Fellow TDE member Kendrick Lamar joins SZA on the track “Doves in the Wind,” a song dedicated to vaginas. They discuss the things men will do for pussy and how there’s more to women than sex. SZA even references Forrest Gump and how he longed for Jenny although she never gave it up.
The album’s lead single “Drew Barrymore” was released on December 3, 2015. SZA imagined the song as if it was playing alongside a 90s teen movie, such as “Never Been Kissed,” which stars Drew Barrymore. SZA is feeling insecure in her relationship on the track and wonders if being with her is good enough for him.
On the track “Prom” SZA feels like she’s wasting her time and fears that she will never grow up. Her partner is maturing while she isn’t and she asks for him to have patience with her because she will get better as she gets older.
SZA is involved with a man who already has a girl and she’s content with being his “The Weekend” girl. His girl can have him through the week because she’s like a 9 to 5 while SZA is much more fun.
The phrase “Go Gina” was made popular on the hit TV show “Martin.” Martin would use the phrase in reference to his girlfriend Gina whenever she was looking good. SZA uses the phrase similarly on this track. She sings about how she’s doing her own thing and doing it well. The song was performed a few times before its release but most notably during a live stream at Jose Cuervo and Afropunk’s No Cuervo No Cinco event.
SZA is feeling in love on the track “Garden (Say it Like Dat).” She finds herself feeling vulnerable because of her insecurities and believes that if her partner knew the true her he wouldn’t love her anymore. The song closes with another nugget of wisdom from her grandmother.
“Broken Clocks” was released as the third single on June 2nd. SZA finds herself struggling to balance her career with her love life because there’s money for her to make. She doesn’t have the time to maintain both at the moment.
On the track, “Anything,” SZA is down for the ride with her lover but she questions whether he even knows she exists.
Why does it seem that the shortest songs on albums are usually the best? James Fauntleroy joins SZA on “Wavy (Interlude).” SZA can admit that she isn’t perfect and has her issues but all she wants from her man is reciprocity. She wants him to give as much as he takes and forgiver her all the same. If he can’t do that then he can get out.
SZA wishes she was a “Normal Girl” who her man could take home to meet his mother. She has no problem navigating in the bedroom but she hasn’t had the same luck in her relationships.
SZA describes herself as a pretty little bird on the track “Pretty Little Birds” featuring Isaiah Rashad. She knows that she has her flaws and has “hit the window” a few times in love but she wants to give her all to her man. Although her wings don’t spread the way they used to, she wants to fly to the heavens with him.
The album closes with the track “20 Something.” The 20’s are a tough time for most because it’s the tricky time in a person’s life when they think they are supposed to have it all together when in actuality, they don’t. SZA calls herself Ms. 20 Something because she is going through rough times and knows she doesn’t have it all together. “Prayin' the 20 somethings don't kill me,” she sings on the track. The song ends with a clip from SZA’s mother talking about her definition of control.
CTRL has been a long time coming. With so much anticipation built around a release, it’s easy for it to fall flat. Fortunately, that is not the case for SZA. CTRL features the same edginess and rawness that SZA fans yearn for. SZA is such a relatable artist who isn’t afraid to air her dirty laundry or reveal her insecurities. That’s probably why her fan base continues to grow. She isn’t afraid to be herself and it shows.
Recommended Tracks: “Pretty Little Birds,” “Garden (Say it Like Dat),” “Normal Girl,” “20 Something”