SZA Takes Over CTRL

Picture yourself walking through a field of roses. You’re young and in love and the passion is overwhelming. Your fingertips graze the tall flowers as a pulsing beat echoes from the castle behind you. This is how SZA makes you feel; like you’re walking through your own kingdom. All 14 songs provide an overwhelming urge to feel serene and comfortable.

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Image via community.allhiphop.com

 

If Kehlani and Jhené Aiko had a baby, it would come out SZA. A beautiful fusion of good music and good vibes that you can’t help but listen to over and over, like a soundtrack to your life.

CTRL is honest, raw, and real. If there’s not one song on this album that you don’t relate to, then you’re not listening hard enough. SZA opened up to being more herself on this album than ever before, including snippets of wisdom from her grandmother scattered throughout. On “Garden (Say It Like Dat)” her knowledgeable elder says, “You don’t have to talk about me or treat me mean, I don’t have to treat you mean, I just stay out of your way, that’s the way you work that one.”

A lot of the tracks deal with inner issues; lack of confidence, insecurities, etc. The Missouri native sings on “Normal Girl” with a punch. “How do I be a lady? Normal girl oh, I wish I was a normal girl.” A similar theme is revisited on “Drew Barrymore”. But, for every insecurity on this album comes a stroke of confidence, or a slick rhyme showing off how confident SZA really is. “Prom” is a promise to be better, older, more yourself, while “Barrymore” is a question of being good enough. Lead single, “Love Galore” is the perfect example of “love conquers all.” The video is hot and heavy yet keeps it’s symbolic allure with a pack of monarch butterflies floating throughout (monarchs represent good luck.)

The sound? It’s a cold coke with a drop of rum to loosen you up. The R&B beats keep a swift rhythm as SZA’s vocals soar to the clouds and back. CTRL is its own animal. Compiled of lightly vintage melodies with some enigmatic verses. SZA (pronounced Sizza) admitted to Rolling Stone that she switched out her mic for a rapper’s mic (the same one that Kendrick Lamar and Travis Scott use.) “It made me feel safe to explore the really conversational tone of my sound and my mind.”


 

NMF Picks!

 

“Love Galore” – SZA feat. Travis Scott

Pairing up with hip-hop vets is in SZA’s musical nature; “Galore” is no different. She’s worked with Rihanna, Chance the Rapper, Drake… this time, Travis Scott. A repetitive song about the everlasting need for love. SZA proves her R&B chops one note at a time.

 

“Quit” – Cashmere Cat feat. Ariana Grande

This track marks the third collab between the DJ and pop songstress. As usual, Grande’s vocals steal the show as she sings about a love that’s taken over her; “I can’t quit you” she wails beautifully. Cat merges pop vocals with inventive electro sounds that make him stand out among the rest.

 

“Cherry Hill” – Russ

Low-key hit maker, Russ, is back with the hauntingly beautiful “Cherry Hill”. Wavering between rap, hip-hop, and R&B, he can do no wrong. “Maybe I’m a food, maybe I’m a fool for you…” he sings repeatedly. A brief electric guitar riff adds to the sultry element felt throughout this song.

 

“Love Gang” – Whethan feat. Charli XCX

Charli XCX brings attitude to Whethan’s gritty dance beat on “Love Gang.” Her punky vocals make this track radio ready any minute. There’s no doubt, we’ve missed Charli; “Gang” reminds us of just how cool she is.

 

“I’m the One” – DJ Khaled, Quavo, Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper, Lil Wayne

As usual, what makes for a good rap song? Throw on about 4 people and something’s gotta sound dope, right? “I’m the One” is your summer car jam; cruising down city streets with your friends. Bieber carries the chorus while Chance and Lil Wayne shut it down with some hot verses. I’m patiently waiting for this to take over radios everywhere.