We Could All Use Some Ctrl.
By: Kala Fogg
SZA (pronounced "sizza") has finally released another album after 3 years and I have to say it’s pretty amazing. If you are a fan like me, you've probably watched every interview released the day before the album drop, as an attempt to catch a snippet from the album. At times the New Jersey native is uncategorized in regards to music genre, but her sound has proved that it can fall into categories like neo-soul, alternative R&B, hip-hop and chill wave.The album consists of 14 songs (appropriate after the wait) with minimal features. With only 4 features in total, we were really able to see who SZA is becoming, as an artist still breaking into the industry. There were really important themes discussed on the album, so I thought I give you guys a quick breakdown, of my thoughts on what these songs were meant to express.
The who am I ? Ballads:
14. 20 Something
There are quite a few songs on the album that really play with a woman’s emotions… trust me. “Normal Girl” and “20 Something” can really make you re-evaluate your values, or the things you think you believe in. “Normal girl” stands as an expression of SZA’s desire to be a more polished woman, one who’s "ladylike", “the type of girl you wanna take home to mama”. She continues the theme of living up to society’s standards in “20 something” revealing an extremely vulnerable SZA. She admits that her life is still a mess even though she’s 20 something. Her love life is not something she’d brag about, she’s hoping that she can hold on to her friends, and she is praying that her “20 somethings don’t kill [her]”. While most people think entering your 20's is the most refreshing part of life, SZA is here to tell us that it might not be. If you don’t feel for sis in this track, please go take another listen.
The trifling male friend Anthems:
Most of us young women can relate to these next two tracks even if we hate to admit it. In "Supermodel", SZA leaves a significant other, and has sex with his "homeboy" while he was in Las Vegas all on Valentine's Day. I know what you're thinking... Ouch SZA. After listening to SZA explain the track during an interview with The Breakfast Club on June 7th, I became more aware of her motives; she cheated on this guy, after his friend told her about her significant other's infidelities...by accident(so much for guy code). This was definitely not the best way to handle infidelity as she explained during the interview; but wow, at all that hurt. Here's what got me, after all that, after all they both have done, she still expresses how much she needs him, because she can't be alone and his sex game was great (I'll just let that sit here to marinate).
"Weekend" is probably one of the most controversial songs of the year, in my perspective, but it's one of my favorites due to how authentic the concept actually is. Let's get straight to the point. On the track SZA along with another woman are sharing a man, the same man. SZA and this woman have a set schedule on when they share time with this man. SZA gets him on the weekend and the other woman gets the weekdays, this is because the other woman is the "9-5". I think this is metaphoric for what SZA thinks of herself when it comes to her importance in the relationship. SZA is telling us she's the fun girl, the "Drew Barrymore", compared to this other woman who is the uptight "Normal girl". She acknowledges how desperate she is for playing the "side-chick" role in this relationship, but I also feel she's just sticking around because she thinks he'll drop all of his mistresses for her. There are so many socialistic norms when it comes to how women should respond to acts of infidelity, and unofficial relationships, they can be a bit of a mess and SZA is a using her own experiences as an example. You can't change a man that doesn't want to change now can you ladies?
The “You Treat Me So Wrong But I Can’t Get Enough Of You” hits:
2. Love Galore (Feat. Travis Scott)
"Love Galore" and "Weekend" are very similar to each other. In Love Galore SZA is reflecting on a past love, that made her look forward to her "weekends" (connect the dots ya'll!) On this popular single SZA is wondering what we all wonder; why do men hit us up when they don't want us? There's several reasons why they do but let's not get into that. SZA explains that this man's crew has even warned her about him. She continues to crave him once again after all of his wrongdoings, but I feel it's solely due to her loneliness; because she reveals she's much stronger now that they are through with the line "Promise I won't cry over spilled milk" after telling him "farewell". I see a ton of similarities between "Love Galore" and "Weekend" when it comes to the men she describes. The men/man are fooling with more than one woman's emotions and it's SZA who's being hurt and put on an emotional rollercoaster without consent (I don't get it).
The self worth is still important” numbers:
4. Drew Barrymore
7. Go Gina
"Drew Barrymore" a.k.a. pure perfection is all about self-worth, and if you didn't grasp that after a couple of listens, let me explain why I think so. With lyrics like "you came with your new friends, and her mom jeans, and she's perfect, and I hate it", and "I get so lonely I forget what I'm worth, we get so lonely, we pretend this works" it's hard to think otherwise. SZA is the Drew Barrymore of this man's choice of woman, she isn't the one who shaves her legs at night, she isn't ladylike, she's not the baby mama, etc. and she apologizes for it. Drew Barrymore similar to SZA has struggled with living up to social norms and perception since she was a child star. SZA wonders if this particular man thinks she's "warm" or pretty enough on the outside for him to like her for anything but sexual relations. It pulls at the heart strings, we get to listen to a woman express common insecurities quite beautifully through music.
"Prom"...I mean what do you think about when you read the word "Prom"? Like the most of us including myself, you think about teenagers and high school, a time where we experience a ton of growth. On this track SZA admits that she isn't as mature as this guy she is seeing, and she promises that she'll be better, and she'll have more substance once she's older. Which I get, how much do you possibly know about love in high school anyway? This song is great at reminding us we all have a future to look forward to, and that we aren't stuck in where we're at forever and a day.
Any Martin fans? Well "Go Gina" seems to be a metaphor for doing your own thing. The track was originally performed by SZA way before it was placed on the album through festivals like Coachella, and AfroPunk. In the song SZA explains that holding this man down is harder than picking up a penny with a press on nail (yikes!...some of you guys won't understand the reality of how difficult that is). Actor Martin Lawrence would say "Damn, Gina!" to compliment his successful girlfriend/wife on the show played by Tisha Campbell; it was solely to emphasize his recognition of her attractive traits. In the chorus SZA is basically saying girl do you, go and get yours. I think it's dope that she is also able to give us a track where she's saying I'm with nobody nor do I have to be and I'm just working on myself.
The “I’m probably… no I’m definitely good without you”/ “Empowerment” tunes:
3. Doves in the Wind ( Feat. Kendrick Lamar)
11. Wavy (Feat. James Fauntleroy)
Doves in the Wind features the oh so amazing rapper Kendrick Lamar, SZA's close friend and Top Dawg Entertainment label mate. The song at first may seem very vulgar as words pertaining to the female genitals are thrown around...a lot; but the song is way deeper under the surface. This song to me just let's men and women know that there are more to woman besides our vaginas. There is so much more to life and relationships than sex and the reproduction tool that makes us. She basically tells the men listening that they should be like Forrest Gump, compassionate and tender and maybe she'll give it up like Jenny did. On Kendrick's captivating verse he emphasizes the power of the worshipped female body part, and exposes the guys who become it's prisoner and how they will do almost anything to have it.
Broken Clocks another song that most of us can relate to, touches on a common theme no one seems to write about these days...work. No not the "work" Rihanna gave us, but actual work, like a 9-5 or whatever your hours may be. SZA is a normal human being like the rest of us and does not hesitate to show us that on her album, she lets us know like anyone else that she doesn't have enough time to do the things she would like to. There's no time for love in her life; her romantic life is interfering with her work schedule, which makes it hard for her romance to be successful. Towards the end of the song she makes it clear that she can't dwell on the past because of how bright her future is becoming, she takes it "day by day" and does everything how she wants to at this point in her life.
Wavy is an interlude that I can't get enough of, it features James Fauntleroy who was featured on Drake's popular unofficial single "Girls Love Beyonce", where he proved to have a voice of an angel. Basically SZA was stuck and feeling low after waiting for a guy (probably to change). She needed a way out, a way to feel better. Now she's found that way out, a release and now she's "wavin" she's chilling because everything's all good.
The “I suck at love but I’m still a hopeless romantic” Melodies:
6. Garden (Say Like Dat)
13.Pretty Little Birds (Isaiah Rashad).
Basically after all the hurt SZA has been through on the album with these men, she has still experienced some triumphs when it comes to being romantic with men. In this song she is saying that this guy is everything she's looking for and that she doesn't want him to change. She says that he's great for doing the simple things, like accepting her insecurities and praising her assets like her "booty" saying it's growing when it isn't (#goals). She's just noting that she really loves this guy and he really must love her for putting up with her when she becomes rather difficult.
In "Anything" SZA is head over heels for this guy, and here's how I know; she's literally telling him she's a ride or die, and down to ride for him no matter what, although she's questioning his legitimacy. She asks if he knows she's alive several times on the track but still chases after him. She's sprung but it's hard to say if she should be, since she's so unsure of his awareness of her emotions.
"Pretty Little Birds" is definitely one for the hopless romantics, and the one's who wear their hearts on their sleeves. It's kind of acknowledging that love sucks and you've been destroyed relationship after relationship but you can still go after love, "you still ain't scared of no heights". SZA wants to do all the things you do for a lover or the one you love, she wants to shave her legs, take her hair down, all that jazz even though she's been through the absolute worst with men. This song feature Isaiah Rashad, he along with SZA say that they've both been damaged and that may have put a limit on how they may love in the future, but overall they are still willing to give it a try for this special person no matter the consequences.
Listen to the album yet? Have any thoughts? Share them with us and comment below!