An Ode to SZA

Solána Imani Rowe aka SZA is an artist who honors her talent and edge. As part of TDE (Top Dawg Entertainment), a label ripe with men, she brings her dreams and desires as a force to be known. 

SZA’s debut album CTRL was met with curiosity. The album’s audacity to sound like nothing else, years after its release, speaks to SZA’s vision. One of my favorite songs on the album is The Weekend. The lyrics boldly tell of being in a polyamorous relationship. The song’s brilliance is the empathy that emanates from the longing of wanting to be with this man yet “being cool on him” as she has explained. She wears her heart in her chest yet her heart beats profusely. SZA’s point of view bares originality and conversation. 

Her chart-topping second album, SOS, shows an artist who has grown into their sound. She is still not holding back. In the song “Kill Bill”, she employs her thought-provoking expertise to share something that is eye-opening yet will make you snap your fingers. The dichotomy is undeniably SZA. “Nobody Gets Me” echos in homage to “I’m With You” by Avril Lavigne. The song cries out to the emotions of being with your person and is another gem in that shines through with her vulnerability. SOS gained more recognition months after its release. There are no skips. In a song-churning industry, SZA went five years or so between CTRL and SOS. That time has allowed her to explore and hone her craft. 

Artists whose songs SZA collaborated on include Cardi B, Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar, and Doja Cat. I love the bridge she sings on “All The Stars” from the Black Panther soundtrack. Did she know the title of Avengers: Endgame before the audience did? Her presence inspires the songs she works on. Her sound compliments the song, which will make her a strong collaborator for years to come.

SZA is a Black woman being herself. She sets an example that carries her beyond music. She owns her body, a conversation that has happened much without her. She knows how to give you only so much. Establishing her voice and presence places her as a favorite amongst an audience who love her signature sound and listeners who will understand her vision. 

Ashley Paul is a traveler, runner, and baker. She is an Everlasting Bookworm and Culture Maven. She is passionate about supporting high school juniors and seniors to write compelling stories for their post-secondary careers. She loves stories with social commentary, atmospheric writing, and compelling characters.

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