26-year-old New Jersey singer/songwriter, SZA’s long-awaited debut studio album, CTRL was released on June 9, 2017 and it is everything I needed and more. Her transparency and rawness on relationships, casual “friends”, sexual freedom and her personal experiences are perfectly displayed through each track.
CTRL covers the trials and explorations of a 20-something-year-old. It is a modern romance touching on things like vulnerability, uncertainty, figuring out life, #WasteMyTime2017 ass n*ggas and exploring who you are. She speaks on relationships in a direct and literal way.
Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) is home to Kendrick Lamar, Isaiah Rashad, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock and Schoolboy Q. SZA is the first and only female to sign to TDE, bringing a new R&B sound to the label. She’s definitely not new to the game. In 2012, SZA self-released her debut mixtape, See.SZA.Run, which was later followed up by her second mixtape in 2013, titled S. She released her first EP in 2014 under TDE, titled Z.
In an interview with Power 106 Los Angeles, SZA states that CTRL is more of a concept than a title. She wanted to be able to control the way others perceived her, how her life was going, the pain and pitfalls.
SZA starts the album with “Supermodel” and in verse one she is writing a letter to her man (now ex) letting him know that she’s aware of his bullish*t. “Heard you got some new homies, Got some new hobbies, Even a new h*e too.” She goes on to let him know that she doesn’t want anything else to do with the situation, but it gets juicy. She reveals the real reason she cheated on him, “Let me tell you a secret, I been secretly banging your homeboy. Why you in Vegas all up on Valentine’s Day?” The info she got on her boyfriend in Vegas compelled her to pursue the “homeboy” who she already had great chemistry with. Oh, and he’s the one who told her about her boyfriend.
“Love Galore” is a very relatable track. Dating is tough and it’s rare to find a guy who isn’t out to waste your time. “Why bother me when you know you don’t want me? Why bother me when you know you got a woman?” Guys, it’s simple. At least be up front with your intentions!
Moving on from the #WasteMyTime2017 ass n*ggas, dealing with one’s insecurities and coping with being alone is a common theme. In “Drew Barrymore,” SZA says “I get so lonely, I forget what I’m worth.” Ladies, we have to be okay with being alone. Ultimately, the song reveals the expectations put on women by men. “Do you really love me or just wanna love me down, down, down, down?”
Can we talk about sexual freedom? The track list goes from dealing with insecurities, loneliness and fuck boys to “I’m grown as hell and I’m going to be up front with how I feel.” The controversial track or better yet, the “Side Chick Anthem” thanks to black twitter, “The Weekend” is one of those songs that reveals the reality of dating and dealing with guys who either won’t commit or are not “ready” to commit. You can view the song from the perspective of the girlfriend who is being cheated on or the girl who didn’t know he had a girlfriend. “Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I just keep him satisfied through the weekend. You’re like 9 to 5, I’m the weekend.” Lawd, it’s messy, but it’s the reality of a lot of relationships. Sad, but true. In an interview with The Breakfast Club, SZA states:
“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.”
On another note, after getting your heart broken and time wasted (minus the whole messing up someone’s relationship), it’s fair for a woman to make up her mind that she is done with love until she finds the right guy. It’s okay to make a grown woman decision that you don’t want to be tied down. If you want to have “casual friends” that’s your business!
CTRL is an emotional rollercoaster and reminds me of life before, during and after a breakup. It taps into so many issues that we 20-somethings experience in the dating world from wanting to be seen, appreciated and loved by the guy that you put time and effort into, feeling trapped inside of your feelings and thoughts, figuring out who you are (with or without a guy) and realizing your worth. All of this to still be hopeful in your quest for love. Always remember:
“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.” [Anything – CTRL]
I look forward to hearing and seeing more from the lovely and talented SZA.