I didn’t care too much for SZA when I first heard her song “Drew Barrymore.” The song never really came together for me. At least according to her Wikipedia page, SZA’s genre has been described as “alternative R&B.” I never really cared for it. It always made me sleepy.
But then I saw that SZA was nominated for five Grammy awards. While one can debate the cultural significance of those awards, I think getting nominated for five still carries some weight. And there’s the whole point of this whole music writing thing. I could write about why I love Bruce Springsteen for the rest of the year, but that wouldn’t challenge me or force me to grow in my listening/writing. And being a white dude, there are obviously things I’m not going to get just by judging an artist I heard one time on my favorite radio station.
I delved into SZA and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. While the two most popular black female artists out there, Beyonce and Rihanna, are fantastic in their own ways, the fact that they are people with real problems gets lost underneath their superstardom. I did not feel that way with SZA. She’s a 20-something with her own set of problems and a voice that should be heard.
She’s got clever lyrics that require you to listen with a more active ear than if you just treated it as background chill music. I liked the lyrics, “All I got is these broken clocks/I ain't got no time/
Just burning daylight.”
I watched a couple interviews to find out a little bit more about her. The first question in the interview was, when was the first time you found the love for music? She answered that it was this album. That sort of surprised me because it feels like you find your passion first, and you make it into a career. “I couldn’t figure out how to be the artist I wanted to be,” she said to the question. Music fans tend to forget that there’s a lot of work that goes into crafting a sound. What we hear from singers and bands is rarely what they started off sounding like.
On the album “Ctrl”, she also had recordings of phone calls with her mother and grandmother. I’ve never really enjoyed the chatter that goes on between songs on some albums, but I enjoyed this one.
I don’t know how much more I’ll listen to SZA, but I appreciate her a little bit more. At the very least, I’ll be sure to dig a little bit more into an artists discography before I make a judgement on them.