Photo courtesy of Gorilla vs. Bear.

Let’s start with, I always thought SZA was a model. I didn’t even realize she did R&B. All I knew was that she was a beautiful milk-chocolate girl with amazing hair and freckles.

All of a sudden everyone was talking about her and asking me if I had listened to any of her music. At the time, I was into a couple of other upcoming folks and didn’t dive into the work she was putting out. I can’t even tell you any of her solo material I’ve heard aside from the music she’s most recently released. What I can tell you is I listened to her on my girl Ratchet Rhi aka Rihanna’s “Anti” album on the 1st track, Consideration, and absolutely loved her. It was my gateway into the world of SZA.

Photo courtesy of Rap-Up.

A few weeks ago I heard “Love Galore” and immediately felt drawn into her rich, youthful alto. Then this Ctrl” dropped and I totally understood why her label was NOT about the life of letting her go. I mean I did hear it was overblown at the time but if it were real, I probably wouldn’t have let her go either. She’s pretty awesome. I sat here on Friday and was just hypnotized. She literally says everything young women might want to express or chat about with their  girlfriends but with these raspy vocals over R&B tracks. How Sway? That’s legit not an easy feat, especially in R&B these days. Many new-age R&B crooners are not able to capture authentic, raw, and yet polished stories. I mean we fell in love with Usher and Alicia Keys at some point because they were able to skillfully take us on a journey while sticking to the R&B/pop formula. This new wave of R&B is less pop influenced though, and challenges young writers to connect with their audience in that Confession’s album sort of way but with the soul of a Songs in A Minor, all the while creating a new approach to R&B. She’s very much so a musical unicorn in the Frank Ocean sort of way where she’s able to tell really complex stories in a relatable way while, again, over R&B tracks. That’s pretty cool. The ethos of her work is storytelling. And the difference between her and a lot of other R&B artists out now, is she’s crafting the story herself. She’s vulnerable and real. She’s also not overproduced so you hear every word and syllable. You know exactly what she means and feels what she says.

Photo courtesy of Rap-Up.

SZA is a very moving artist and that’s so refreshing nowadays. You get the sense that she’s really bearing her soul in 14 tracks. Ctrl is extremely personal in a time when music seems so impersonal and contrived. For that reason alone, she has a new fan in me. I love it and I think as a woman, she plays up a lot on those feminine sensitivities without even trying. I’m glad to have an artist like her on the rise and I’m excited to see where she continues to journey with her artistry. <3