ALBUM REVIEW: SZA- ‘Ctrl’

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The time has come. I FINALLY get the chance to review one of the most anticipated albums of the year! SZA, after many years of delays and such, finally released her debut album, Ctrl. So without further ado, let’s review shall we?

SZA sat down with multiple mainstream radio stations during her promo tour, some of them being The Breakfast Club, Sway in the Morning, and Hot97. I watched The Breakfast Club (TBC) interview and in that interview, SZA speaks on how after all this time, what she was so focused on was discovering her sound and herself. It took trials and errors for her to get to this point, to get to where she could release a full body of work and feel like it was complete (I’m paraphrasing). After first listen of the album, I could understand what she meant completely. SZA’s older music, her various mixtapes and EP’s, I felt that I couldn’t connect with her music whatsoever. It was something about the music she was releasing then that I just wasn’t feeling. And in the interview with TBC she talked about how before finding her sound, she was just using a lot of reverb on her tracks and stacking different sounds on top of each other and calling it music. I think that was my problem with her, it never felt complete to me. So now, after hearing Ctrl, it is like a breath of fresh air because you can hear it in her music, that she loves the music she’s making because it sounds incredible.

Ctrl begins with a song called “Supermodel” and it features a little intro of her mom talking about what control means to her, which is a theme throughout the album. “Supermodel” is such a great way to start an album and it’s so beautiful. In the song, SZA talks about how she fears her boyfriend will leave her for someone prettier than her and she says “you know I need too much attention for sh-t like that”. She wants to be his supermodel and that he just needs to give her a chance to do so. Amazing. Next is “Love Galore”. I talked about that song previously here if you want to check it out. Okay so now we move on to “Doves in the Wind”, which is one of my favorites from the album… like top 3. The song features Kendrick Lamar and it is such an unforgettable song, one, because it’s a really great song, and two, because they use the word p-ssy like 1,000 times in the song. First off, I love the genuine hip hop feel this song has. The beat is bananas and on top of that, SZA gets every ones attention by starting off the song saying “REAL N-GGAS DO NOT DESERVE P-SSY”. It immediately grabs your attention like “wait… but I thought you said REAL n-ggas??”, which is suggestive of course for something deeper (I won’t get into it, you’ll get it). Then, Kendrick comes on the song and ups the usage of the word p-ssy ten-fold. He has a good verse, not a surprise.

Next is “Drew Barrymore” which I also wrote about here. Now we’re at “Prom”. “Prom” features a very uptempo beat, something of a pop song which should be on the radio. It is reminiscent of her high school years, about how she was feeling around prom season about a boy and her life in general. Another good one, but that’s this album in a nutshell. OMG so now, the BEST song on the album, “The Weekend”. I won’t be able to put into words how amazing this song is but I will for sure try. It begins with some easy going music that makes you think thats the beat for the song, but it quickly fades into the background as the beat drops. The beat then becomes way more soulful and way more 90’s R&B. SZA begins the song by singing “say you got a girlll, how you want me how you want me when you got a girl”. SZA killssss this song, like geez, the vocals, the way she rides the beat… it’s flawless honestly. “The Weekend” is the ultimate side chick anthem and I’m here for it. SZA says she doesn’t care if he’s out with her all week, as long as when the weekend hits, he knows he needs to be at her house giving her what she wants. Incredible. If you haven’t already, go listen to this song… if you do nothing else with your life, listen to this song right now.

Next is “Go Gina”, another one of my favorites from the album but then again, they’re all my favorites. “Go Gina” is another one with like a hip hop feel to it. Damn Gina damn Gina, them jeans they must be uptight mama… go get that get right mama. This song is very… how do I say… under the surface? deeper meaning. Deep enough to where SZA kinda has to explain it for you to truly understand what she means… which she of course explains on The Breakfast Club. Okay, after taking a consensus from the beginning of verse 2 to be exact. SZA is talking about how she’s in love and she hopes she doesn’t find out that he’s someone else and she hopes that he never discovers the real her because he wouldn’t love her anymore. Very pretty song, very relatable. Also, I love the outro of her grandma speaking facts. It’s very important to the song. Next is “Broken Clocks”, which I also wrote about herreeee. Next is “Anything”, it’s a self-explanatory song, just her talking about how she’s down for whatever when it comes to her boyfriend but she knows she can’t give all of her “this time”.

“Wavy (Interlude” is next, featuring James Fauntleroy and I’m so tired of James making amazing interludes and never releasing the full version. First, it was “James Joint” on Rihanna’s ANTI and now this… James, we need to talk. Dope interlude overall. *I’m almost done I promise* Okay now we’re on “Normal Girl”, soooo good. I feel like this is the song I can relate to the most, SZA is asserting that she wishes she could be that girl that his parents and friends would be proud of. She just wishes she was a “normal girl”, I feel you SZA. Also, I loOoOve the bridge… beautiful. Now, “Pretty Little Birds”. The song has to grow on you but when it does, you begin to wonder if it is the best song on the album. This song is very metaphorical, written so perfectly, and the combination of her and Isaiah Rashad is unmatched and hopefully she features him on every project. She says “I wanna shave my legs for you, I wanna take all of my hair down and let you lay in it”… FACTSSS. I’m ready to shave my legs for somebody lol. Flawless, a great way to round out the album. Also, the jazz elements added to this song is just so over the top but so fitting as well. Ok LAST BUT NOT LEAST… we have the final song of the album, “20 Something”. “20 Something” was a song that she kind of shared on her “behind the scenes” video she posted to her website months prior to the release of Ctrl. “20 Something” is that song that us “millenials” (ugh hate that term) can relate the most, just being 20-something and feeling like your life is at a stand still. Love, career, money, feeling like you don’t have much of any of that. I feel like SZA chose this song to be last because it was like rounding all of the feelings she felt throughout the album into one song. Kind of like after all the emotions she felt throughout the album, she still feels disconnected to everything in a way.

Ctrl is one of the best albums I’ve heard. Yeah it’s that real for me. From beginning to end, there is not one “filler song”, you can honestly just let this album play. I bought the physical copy of the album and I get so excited prior to me going somewhere because I know that I get to listen to this album driving to wherever I have to go. SZA… the album was worth the wait.

 

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