Before the smooth, soulful and new-age R&B star signed too the already small but dense label of Top Dawg Entertainment, SZA was “stealing beats off the internet” and recording music “by accident”. Being a fan of her, and enjoying her debut EP, ‘Z’ on the Hip-Hop label, I’m going back just a few years to revisit her first official project of original material.
Featuring production from APSuperProducer, Brandun DeShay and Hassan Insane, minimalistic, Cloud Rap and R&B instrumentals fill the EP with monosyllabic drums, distorted synths and SZA’s deep and powerful voice. The first song, “Bed” is a great start to the project. She sings slowly, emphasising her length of notes and lyrics of her comeuppance in the industry as well as the decisions that one makes in the industry. Another immediate track that grips me, is the following track to “Bed”, titled “Euphraxia”. Over psychedelic keys, House drums and glitchy 808 bass, SZA details her drug use, issues of mental health, but mostly doing everything for herself.
The fourth track on the EP, “Time Travel Undone” is one of the slower and melodic on here. Over Trap snares, swirling synths, panning additional instrumentals that I can’t identify, it is really SZA’s vocals on here, which are as smooth as a toke from a joint. The last song that interests me is “Once Upon a High”. SZA’s vocals are chopped up and displayed throughout the track and very minimal production takes place. It’s instrumental is gripping for its harmonica sample and Nu-Jazz orchestration of instrumentals and general sound on here and is one of SZA’s more addictive records.
To conclude, at eight tracks length, it was a good start. It allows whatever fans she had at that time to see more of her artistry as well as where she could go from there. This project from SZA reminds me a lot of Nikkiya, who portrays a similar vocal style and instrumental choices.