Since hitting the Hip-Hop/R&B and Neo-Soul scene; collaborating with major industry names like Chance the Rapper, contributing additional un-credited vocals to her label mate, Kendrick Lamar’s ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ LP and struggling pushing out her debut album under TDE. However, on 9/6/17, the talented vocalist finally dropped ‘Ctrl’.
Filled with heart-broken vocals and lyrics on past and previous relationships, as well as interludes from the singer’s mum, the album projects a intimate and overwhelming pouring of emotions that have bubbled under the surface; something everyone can relate to. Beginning with the Scum produced and Pharrell songwriting assisted “Supermodel”, SZA airs out her grievance of an ex-boyfriend where she’s “been secretly banging” his homeboy and not letting anything un-surprise first listeners and fans.
Another immediate standout is the solo slow trippy synthesized “The Weekend”. It’s one of her more opening records, and the instrumental, produced by ThankGod4Cody is blissful to listen too as well as the underlying background vocals SZA provides. As well as those, “Anything” and Isaiah Rashad’s verse on “Pretty Little Birds” adds another male voice to the album, giving it that extra contribution from someone who can add more than just vocals but emotion onto a track.
Not only does the album explicitly explore her sexuality, relationships and the overall desire to not have the anxiety of not being in ‘Ctrl’ of ones life and what entails it. One thing is for certain throughout the album is how gripping it is; whether it’s the psychedelic guitar solo towards the end of the Kendrick Lamar featured “Doves In The Wind” and mellow stripped back keys on “Go Gina”. “Garden (Say It Like Dat)”, a personal vent of how she sees herself as a woman is also a standout from the album for its Trap and R&B interlace of sound, similar to Bryson Tiller.
Although the album is filled with hefty emotions, bitterness and anger resonating through her pained vocals or smooth but airy production, tracks like”Broken Clocks”, “Normal Girl” and “20 Something” don’t add much to the album. In all, it’s a boastful debut album. SZA adds more diversity to the ever-growing TDE rooster but also shows off her ability as a solo artist and gives first-time listeners a side of her that hadn’t be seen before on a wider audience level.