Ctrl (Deluxe) SZA
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- 2Love Galore04:35
- 3Doves In The Wind04:26
- 4Drew Barrymore04:00
- 6The Weekend04:32
- 7Go Gina02:41
- 8Garden (Say It Like Dat)03:28
- 9Broken Clocks03:51
- 11Wavy (Interlude)01:15
- 12Normal Girl04:13
- 13Pretty Little Birds04:05
- 1420 Something03:18
- 15Love Galore (Alt Version)04:33
- 19Tread Carefully03:01
Info for Ctrl (Deluxe)
The debut album from one of the most promising new artists of the past 5 years. Spanning genres, SZA kinda reminds me a bit of when Frank Ocean came onto the scene. For me, she has the same type of creativity and artistic integrity. I had originally listened to this album on release and back then it received a few spins as it was one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the year. This album is multi-faceted and on each listen I discover something new to like. Her lyrics are self-reflective, sometimes crass, often honest and at times amusing.
I always enjoy hearing Kendrick Lamar’s voice on a record and as an artist at his peak, it was a coup for her to have him feature on the record. She would go on to feature on the best song of the Lamra-curated ‘Black Panther’ soundtrack. Travis Scott also makes an appearance on the record. SZA is no stranger to major artists, having written for Beyonce, &Nicki Minaj, amongst others. Originally scheduled to be released in 2015, the album was delayed due to SZA’s “blinding paralysis brought on by anxiety.” She continued working on the record until her label eventually took her hard drive away from her in 2017. This is the result. Gateway track on the record is the single, ‘Drew Barrymore,’ followed by ‘Prom.’ Looking forward to seining what this future star has in store.
Solána Rowe aka SZA
Solána Rowe aka SZA
In early June, Solána Rowe, known to the world as SZA, released her highly anticipated debut album, Ctrl. Much to SZA’s frustration, Ctrl (originally titled A) was to be released two years earlier, but suffered from several production delays and ultimately led her to leaving her previous label. It was during this time that the album was renamed Ctrl, something SZA sometimes lacked in the early development of her project and at many times throughout her life, as she confessed to The Breakfast Club in an interview. However, the album explores much more than simply its namesake.
Ctrl is a raw, honest, and at times, a problematic confessional. SZA draws from the influences of R&B, indie rock, and neo-soul to produce her hybrid “Alt-R&B” sound while she reflects on intimacy, relationships, self-image, and pain. The album opens with “Supermodel,” a seemingly bare piece primarily composed of a solo guitar and accompanying percussion that is anything but simple. SZA uses blank composition to draw attention to the gritty, heart-wrenching details of her infidelity with an ex-lover’s best friend—an ex-lover who, she claims, left her on Valentine’s day. SZA bares it all using an almost spoken-word cadence that mimics that of a diary entry, unapologetic and uncensored. It is this dichotomy of right and wrong that adds so much value and appeal to Ctrl.
SZA places herself in her music as a sympathetic character who is able to win her listeners' understanding despite her moral flaws. While this battle of morality is continuously at play within the album, arguably the most noteworthy example goes to “The Weekend.” The chorus leads with “My man is my man is your man/Heard it's her man too.” We have here entered another act of infidelity, though this time she is not alone. SZA speaks on playing the role of the sidechick and, again, regret is not in the picture. In this way, SZA celebrates her sexual liberation, reclaiming her independence by playing what in our patriarchal society is considered “a man’s game.” Just as often as SZA shows her strength in Ctrl, she doesn’t hesitate to expose her vulnerability, difficult as it may be.
Songs like “Normal Girl" and “Drew Barrymore” expose a more self-conscious Solána who aches for intimacy, love, and acceptance. She aims to please and become the “type of girl you take over to mama/The type of girl, I know my daddy, he'd be proud of,” softening her dominance for a shot at love. With all the emotions and contradictions, it is clear that SZA aimed and succeeded with laying her heart out on the line and opening herself up to the world. This growth in SZA is evident not only as a person, but also as an artist.
While SZA’s earlier projects employed much of the same story telling that her friends have grown to know and love, neither S nor Z come nearly as close in depth and relatability. Her stories of love and pain ring truer in Ctrl namely because they are so blunt and elaborate, and perhaps because they are not weighed down by heavy electronic synths. SZA strips down emotionally and instrumentally in Ctrl, doing away with much of the electronic-pop and alternative vibes of her former EPs and mixtapes, ultimately creating a gritty, raw, and real portrait of womanhood. SZA in many ways sounds more confident and comfortable in her latest work; and while familiar faces (Kendrick Lamar’s “Doves in the Wind” and Isaiah Rashad’s “Pretty Little Birds”) from projects past do make appearances, the new album remains largely unique from any previous ventures.
This album contains no booklet.