With the music market saturated with tons of inane tracks with no unique qualities, it’s always refreshing when an artist delivers a project that displays raw emotion and gut punching honesty. Musical paragon Solana Rowe, better known by her stage name SZA, dropped her highly anticipated debut album to the delight of fans and music critics alike.
Being in a lane of her own when it comes to her musical style, the first single from Ctrl, “Drew Barrymore”, saw the songstress solidifying her spot as one of the young, heavy hitters in the music realm. With the somber, yet relatable subject matter, Rowe sings a tale that is all too familiar – being young, full of self doubt, and potentially wanting someone who doesn’t fully deserve us.
This theme is seen throughout the album, which provides an additional feeling of relation to listeners of my generation, but it isn’t all melancholy tropes through the trials of life and relationships. SZA separates some tracks with wisdom from her mother and grandmother; one such instance is at the end of “Garden” where her grandmother states “If you ain’t got shit to say to me, I ain’t got shit to say to you” – a quote that I’ve always lived by.
Having singles “Love Galore” and “Drew Barrymore” already getting the video treatment, fans are hoping that one of the most popular tracks, “The Weekend”, will be one of the next selected singles. “The Weekend” is one of SZA’s most honest and straightforward tracks on the album in which she describes her sexual relationship with a guy who already has a girlfriend, and how she’s able to keep him to herself during the weekend. “My man is my man is your man/Heard that’s her man/Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday/I just keep him satisfied through the weekend”.
This isn’t the only instance where SZA displays her savage side – the opening track “Supermodel” (complete with a sonic appearance by Pharrell at the end) consists of SZA explaining her insecurities and her revenge cheating on her less than faithful boyfriend. “Lemme tell you a secret/I’ve been secretly banging your homeboy/why you in Vegas all up on Valentine’s Day?” SZA croons over gnarly guitar riffs.
Ctrl delivers in every possible aspect: flawless production, raw honesty about life, relationships, and insecurities, and smooth vocal variety throughout. In addition to the above mentioned tracks, “Go Gina” and “Doves in the Wind” (feat. Kendrick Lamar) are among my favorite tracks from this stellar debut effort.
Rowe’s honesty and choice to continue to be an open book for the sake of art will continue to pay off with even more success and critical acclaim throughout her journey. SZA has a long road of success and countless accolades in her future and I’m excited to see her continued growth as both a person and an artist as time goes on.