She’s very noticeable. She has the crazy, natural hair and she gives the impression of that girl you would see at your high school and wouldn’t know why she was catching your attention but she was. She gave off the vibe as a loner, but a confident one. She knew who she really was and didn’t care if people were sold on her at the time. She knew that her time would come sometime in the future… The very near future.
SZA is a female R&B singer part of the label, Top Dawg Entertainment. Signed just last year in 2013, people were eager to find out why she was the first female signed to the already popular and powerful label that is TDE. Born in Maplewood, New Jersey she was raised a strict Orthodox Muslim where she was only allowed to listen to two artists at home, John Coltrane and Ella Fitzgerald. At her old high school (she attended the same high school as Lauryn Hill), she found an old iPod with Bjork songs in it. She said it was here, that she would find her escape through music from being bullied for being different. After signing with TDE, she went to Los Angeles to work on music and her upcoming project Z. She has described her music as “Glitter Trap” due to the fact of taking a lot of trap beats but mixing them with chimes and bells.
SZA released her first project through Top Dawg on April 8, 2014. The project is called Z and features guest performances by Chance The Rapper, Kendrick Lamar, and Isaiah Rashad. It also features production from Emile Hayne, Mac Miller, DJ Dahi and Toro Y Moi. The project has a very atmospheric type of feel to it and is filled with lots of emotion and dark sub plots. It’s very rare, that we see a female R&B artist take the eerie, darker vibe in their music. You can also tell that she’s before her time. As a listener, I get a futuristic vibe from it and think about traveling somewhere outside this universe. SZA gives off a mix of Lauryn Hill, stirred with some Nostalgia Ultra Frank, and dashed with some Megan James (Purity Ring). If that doesn’t make much sense, go ahead and listen to Z and tell me if you have a better explanation. There are a couple tracks on the EP that really resonated with me and are definitely going to be on repeat for a couple of weeks. In ‘Child’s Play,’ Chance awkwardly flows in beautifully, raps, and then harmonizes with SZA to make a perfect fit for the song. The song itself is just so addicting due to the “feel good” type of beat that is provided on that track. In ‘Babylon’, she insights the sins and risks of a relationship and asks her partner, “Was it worth it?” It’s also nice to have another solid Kendrick verse on that song as well. Some other standout tracks of mine were ‘Sweet November’, ‘Julia’, and ‘Warm Winds.’
I’m very anxious to see what SZA brings to R&B in the years to come. She’s special, and brings something that we’ve never really seen before and that’s what R&B so desperately needs right now. Not to mention, it’s always fun when you can’t really pinpoint exactly what her sound is. But I predict with TDE behind her, and seeming to have a good head on her shoulders, she’s on the right path to becoming a heavy-hitter in R&B. Like I said, Check out Z and tell me how you feel about SZA in the comments below.