What exactly is the traditional R&B artist anymore? I don’t think it exists, because singers whom many would consider R&B artists are branching out and developing styles that are not quite pop and not quite Hip Hop, but they generally meet somewhere in the middle. Artistry is about going against the grain to create something new and invigorating. Top Dawg Entertainment has been responsible for breathing out new and invigorating artists to the rap game, so who’s to say they can’t make an impact on the other side of the urban music spectrum? SZA could very well be that impact player.
I didn’t hear about her before she got signed to TDE, but since I am a fan of the artists on their roster, I only felt obligated to hear what they heard. It’s funny that one of the tags on soundcloud under one of her songs is ‘Glitter Trap’ because that’s a pretty good way to describe it – not quite hard like regular trap, but not exactly soft like R&B; the happy medium, as many would say, is what she provides. While listening to her S EP , I could only bring up a comparison to Tinashe, because of style, not because of vocals (SZA has more strength). They both sing over fused beats that marry different sounds that can’t be exactly put in one genre, because it can stretched to multiple, which is the beauty of the variety.
As to what I see in SZA as an artist, I think that she has an international appeal, but she provides a uniqueness given the right production to be appreciated by the North American market; it really all depends on her production, because she can flow and has a great voice, but one example I’ll point out is Teen Spirit. It has production provided by WondaGurl, but where she has shined with her beats for Uptown & Crown, this track per say isn’t one that felt whole, because a lot of it wasn’t necessary – it didn’t serve as an organic compliment, but SZA was able to make something out of it. Her See SZA Run EP is a good example of just what type of artist she can be given the right production (it does play a part on the growth of an artist, believe it or not – music 101).
What she has going for her is that her music is relaxing and her songwriting isn’t even bad. On some of her tracks her voice is breathy to the point where you can’t even make out some words, but her melodies are on point. I’m not a heavy consumer of R&B music, and I doubt that will change any time soon, but I like what she’s put out thus far, and I respect TDE for going what they like talent-wise, instead of going after what’s ‘expected’, and that’s why they’ve been able to excel at this point in the label’s young development. There’s more to look forward to, but check SZA out and most importantly, enjoy.
That’s My Word & It STiXX