SZA: The New Flavor (?)
In 2017 creative artist are in the minority in my humble opinion. To speak quite frankly, I haven't been too impressed with the current climate of music. I admit, I can be a pretty harsh critic because I grew up in the 70's, 80's and 90's. When Marvin Gaye, SADE, Anita Baker and Hall and Oates are your favorite artist, you tend to have very high expectations. I have been waiting for an artist to move me over the past year or so. A few months ago I was on Youtube searching for new music, which is something I do from time to time. I ran across a track called "2 AM" by an artist that goes by the name of SZA. I was immediately interested in her sound. Yes, I totally slept on her and had never heard her music and if I did, for whatever reason I wasn't paying attention. I'm sorry to say this happens to the best of us, including myself.
Whenever I run into an interesting song, I generally look into the artist a little more. SZA is not your traditional artist from a background perspective. She didn't grow up with dreams of becoming a musician or celebrity. SZA was actually a college student who had some difficulties and decided to drop out. Her parents are both Business Professionals and I'm sure they pushed academics. SZA admitted in interviews that she partied too hard and this led to school being unsuccessful. Like many of us, timing is everything and SZA was not in the mood for studying from what I read. SZA stated that she smoked herself out of college. SZA had an artistic talent deep inside and apparently didn't realize this gift early on. The reason I say this is because to me talent has nothing to do with luck and her talent for singing and entertaining was soon to be exposed. Around this time she started recording music with a friend.
If you are looking for a fresh, energetic and unique artist in this era that some would call "Cookie Cutter" or "Microwave", SZA is a great choice to explore. As a starting point, please refer to the EP's See.SZA.Run, S (EP) & Z EP) to get familiar with her sound and vibe. SZA's entrance into the music scene began 5 years ago but to pop culture she is considered a new artist. As I write this blog, I'm listening to the song "BED" off her debut EP See.SZA.Run. Her releases have a Neo-Soul, Hip Hop and Alternative flavor to them. Her final EP titled Z was her first project as a signed artist. Her previous 2 projects were self-released. Before Z was released, SZA signed with Top Dawg Entertainment. If you didn't know, TDE is the label with Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul and Schoolboy Q. SZA is the first lady of TDE.
After you listen to her older material you can come full circle and listen to her 2017 release CTRL that dropped in June. In classic SZA, she doesn't run away from her signature sound. The vibe is sensual, soulful and overall fun. Now let me prepare you for SZA by saying she can be RAW lyrically as well. SZA might say a few things that you would "think" but not say. SZA can show a vulgar side and jump right back into a jazz tune. On a side note, SZA was influenced by the Wu Tang Legend The RZA in terms of coming up with her name. No, this wasn't the only reason she came up with the name. There is a religious influence in her name as well. SZA is a very interesting woman to say the least.
Diversity is what draws me to an artist. SZA has a very eclectic taste in music. In several interviews SZA has stated that Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Bjork, Wu Tang, Mos Def, NAS, Jay-Z, Common, Louis Armstrong, and so many other great artist influenced her. You can hear various styles in her music. SZA reminds me of another alternative artist named RES who released a lot of great music in the early 2000's and later recorded a lot with Talib Kweli in a group called Idle Warship. At any rate, you can't box SZA's sound into a box or category. If you are looking for some new and exciting music, look no further than SZA. If you are bored with the radio and the usual suspects, SZA is a great choice. As I conclude these thoughts, the song "PROM" is playing out of my speakers. I tell you what, I'm glad I stopped sleeping on SZA because she is my new musical flavor.
SZA "Crack Dreams"