Recently, SZA has taken a break from touring with Top Dawg Entertainment on the label’s Championship Tour due to injuring her vocal cords. It looks like she’ll be taking a much-needed break to recover and after hearing about this, I got to thinking about what I like so much about the artist and her debut album, Ctrl. Not only can I listen to her songs literally every day, there is something so relatable about SZA. There is a sense of vulnerability, opening to love and empowerment in her work as she’s bending genres of R & B, neo-soul, and more.

When I first started jamming to SZA’s Ctrl, I instantly thought of Janet Jackson’s famous album, Control. Obviously, there is no coincidence that the two break-out albums are synonymous to each other. In the Control album, the legendary singer took back her power, proclaimed herself Ms. Jackson, and set herself apart from her famous brother(s) who rocked the 70s and 80s at the time. SZA asserts herself in her album as well but in a very different way. Ctrl embraces coming to one’s power gradually, being vulnerable while acknowledging insecurity, which is highlighted in songs like Drew BarrymoreNormal GirlGarden (Say It Like Dat), basically the whole album…. Also, this journey is expressed through the audio of the female figures in SZA’s life, her mom and grandmother. Simultaneously, SZA is bold (singing about men, pussy, and the uncertainty of modern relationships) and being entirely herself, i.e. her songs Doves in the Wind and The Weekend just to name a few.  I think in this age of self-care and self-love, this is a vital step: declaring you are awesome, out-of-this-world fabulous (did y’all see her at the Met Gala?!) and a work in progress.

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Delia Douglas-Haight