Album Review: SZA – “Ctrl”

Album Review: SZA – “Ctrl”

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Sza is just the biggest breath of fresh air since she arrived on the music scene as she one of the very few female artist out here that are unbelievably talented, different and creative. Her long awaited debut album dropped last week, “Ctrl” ‘absolutely blew me away and is now constantly on repeat. The 14 track project is enchanting, soothing, and mesmerising all in one and her songwriting skills are so raw and draw so much similarities to Frank Ocean and Erykah Badu.SZA-02

The opening track ‘Supermodel’ is smooth guitar driven number that was produced by Pharrell Williams consists of lyrics about her insecurities and sleeping with her ex-boyfriend’s friend because he purposefully left her on Valentine’s Day: “I’m writing this letter to let you know, I’m really leaving and no, I’m not keeping your shit. Heard you got some new homies, got some new hobbies, even a new hoe too. Maybe she can come help you, maybe she can come lay do after we’re done, what’s done is done. I don’t want nothing else to do with it, let me tell you a secret, I been secretly banging your homeboy.. Why you in Vegas all up on Valentine’s Day? Why am I so easy to forget like that?”

Her breakthrough single “Love Galore” which saw her teaming up with rapper Travis Scott as they sing about craving a old flame but they know that the relationship that they had was sexual based, not on love because the dude played with her emotions and used her to please his sexual needs nothing more. They moved on but he keeps on hitting her up to smash but she sees right through his shit and is putting herself first and no longer wasting her time. Here`s what she had to say about it “Why are you bothering me? You literally don’t want to do anything but smash. We all know this is not happening, today. Why don’t we just reconvene for, like, never or, I don’t even know. Why waste my time?” Or, unless you want to be friends and smoke and hang out and giggle, there’s no point. Doesn’t make any sense and if you have another girl, and on top of that, you’re lying, then it’s all these giggles for nothing. I’m not in the business of giggling for nothing.”

‘Doves in the Wind’ featuring the extremely talented Kendrick Lamar, it was produced by Cam O’bi, the song serves a powerful message about the value of a pussy which goes beyond sex and they touch on the things people do to go out of their way to get pussy: “Ni**as’ll lose they mind for it, wine for it, dine for it—pussy. Spend time for it, see no colored line for it—pussy. Double back handicap and go blind for it—pussy. Pussy got endless prisoners, pussy always revengin’ her, pussy is calculating and good pussy is rather dangerous. Pussy can be so facetious, the heavyweight champ, pussy is so undefeated, let’s amen to that.”

“Drew Barrymore” explores insecurity, anger, isolation and low self-esteem in a relationship which forces her to question her own self worth because the man she’s having a physical relationship wants to settle down but she feels the relationship is unbalanced “I get so lonely, I forget what I’m worth. We get so lonely, we pretend that this works, I’m so ashamed of myself think I need therapy. I’m sorry I’m not more attractive, I’m sorry I’m not more ladylike. I’m sorry I don’t shave my legs at night, I’m sorry I’m not your baby mama….”

‘Prom’ is a 80`s pop inspired number that talks about a teen who doesn’t know what to do with her life as she has yet to find herself and know what to work towards, she also puts so much pressure on herself because she`s not maturing as quickly as her boyfriend is: “Fearing not growing up, keeping me up at night, am I doing enough? Feel like I’m wasting time. Promise to get a little better as I get older and you’re so patient and sick of waiting. Promise to do better, shoulda coulda, prolly wanna let me go but you can’t. Right now I feel it pouring, I need a little bit, just a little bit…”

“The Weekend” finds her showcasing her vocals so beautifully over a smooth 90`s R&B inspired production, she sings about messing around with another girl`s man, when it comes to the weekend she’s got this guy on lock:“My man is my man is your man, heard it’s her man too. Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I just keep him satisfied through the weekend. You’re like 9 to 5, I’m the weekend, make him lose his mind every weekend…”

Here`s what SZA had to say about the song: “I’m saying that … we all share the same dude … None of us are his girl. All of us are just out here trying to get different things for different reasons. And my particular reason is just get here and do what you said you were gonna do.”

“Go Gina” finds her calling out one of her so called friends who has been spreading false rumours about her but she is taking her power back from this situation as she sets her straight that she is focusing on herself and her goals not letting her get the best of her. She doesn`t belong to anyone: “I mean, really it’s same me, it’s old me. You know? same shit, I’ve been on the low key. Grinding, grinding, grinding, learning on the low key, shining. Tryin’ to keep to myself but you bring me out of character, every time again. Damn Gina, damn Gina, them jeans, they must be uptight mama, you need some get right mama…”

“Garden (Say It Like Dat)” sees her tracking a subject matter that we all have gone through allowing yourself to love and truly love and pray that your man or lady loves you back, deeper and truly, she is just doubting that if he’s really in love with her, because of her own insecurity. “Need you for the old me, need you for my sanity. Need you to remind me where I come from, can you remind me of my gravity? Ground me when I’m tumblin’, spiralin’, plummetin’ down to Earth, you keep me down to Earth. Call me on my bullshit, lie to me and say my booty gettin’ bigger even if it ain’t. Love me even if it rain, love me even if it pain you, I know I be difficult..”

“Broken Clocks” samples River Tiber`s single “West”, which creates a great foundation for her to deliver a stellar vocal performance as she sings about a ex boyfriend that she dated three years ago but he still thinks of her and even talks about her to other people like they are still together, while she on the other hand has moved on to bigger and better things and still has love for him but not that deeply as he has for her. “I don’t eat can’t sleep past 9 AM, heartbeat makes me feel young again (like a snail, like a). Can’t beat em just join the party,I don`t wanna, don’t need nobody”
“Anything” samples “Spring Reprise” by the legendary songstress Donna Summer, it sees her embracing love and staying focused on her grind but she is so busy chasing so many things that she forgets to centre herself and takecare of her core “Keepin’ up is hard to do, even harder feeling heavy, steady chasin’ you. Beep beep, why are you lookin’ around, you lonely? I feel you comin’ down like honey. Do do you even know I’m alive? Do do you even know I, I…”

Wavy (Interlude) it sees her teaming up with James Fauntleroy II, who is a beast with the pen and has such a soothing vocals with a rich texture to them, together they sing about finding your way out of a bad relationship. “I’ve been in the dugout, lookin’ for a way out. You know just takin’ it slow, now I’m feeling’ one out. Lookin’ for a way out, somebody show me the door” The track definitely needs to be longer as they sound so amazing and the subject is very relatable and needed to display in more depth.

“Normal Girl” has the dopest beat, so funky and original, here she sings about not fitting the typical standards of what many think a lady should be and act like. She feels being normal would improve her relationships and be perfect for her lover but she knows she will never be that girl. “Wish I was the type of girl you take over to mama, the type of girl, I know my daddy, he’d be proud of…”

“Pretty Little Birds” sees her teaming up with fellow label mate Isaiah Rashad, they discuss painful situations that could`ve broken her but she used them as stepping stones and moved on forward and her heart remains open to love and she is fully embracing everything that comes with life. “You are but a phoenix among feathers, you’re broken by the waves among the sea. They’ll let you die, they’ll let you wash away but you swim as well as you fly. Pretty little bird, you’ve hit the window a few times. You’re pretty little bird, you still ain’t scared of no heights, when the spiral down feels as good as the flight.”

She closes this amazing set with “20 Something” which reflective on the bittersweet reality of being in your 20`s as you don`t have your life together yet as you`re still growing and as time moves forward you want to it freeze so you can come into your own before you see yourself in your 30`s still in the same situations and also parting ways with friends and relationship still disconnected. “How you ain’t say you was movin’ forward? Honesty hurts when you’re gettin’ older. I gotta say I’ll miss the way you need me, yeah. Why you ain’t say you was gettin’ bored? Why you ain’t say I was fallin’ short? How you lead me out so far away?”

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“Ctrl” is so breathtaking and is very transparent because every word holds a heavy and powerful meaning that pulls on your heart strings and also makes you relate on deeper level of human understanding. Sza`s voice is so soft, smooth and soothing and her delivery has a personal touch which helps her audience connect to her truth. I highly recommend everyone to hit up their nearest music store and purchase it and support real music again.

1484405513_e5fb1175d53d2973e6bbc362081eb16a“And if it’s an illusion, I don’t want to wake up. I’m gonna hang on to it. Because the alternative is an abyss, is just a hole, a darkness, a nothingness. Who wants that? You know? So that’s what I think about CTRL, and that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it”

 

Ctrl is out now on TDE/RCA.

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