SZA – CTRL – The STiXXclusive Review

Oh, Solana. How we’ve missed you. You were basically Frank Ocean’d without fault of your own, but because you simply weren’t put as a priority by TDE – a mistake. As much as I love the music that comes from that label, lord their artist management is something else, but that’s for another article that I likely won’t write – I just stay in my lane. But honestly, it’s been a while since Z, and I certainly thought that the conclusion to the trilogy, A, was going to be this album, but it didn’t happen to be. Am I mad? No? Disappointed? A bit, but at least, after long last, we finally got new music and an album to accompany it. That’s really what it’s all about at the end of it all. Hopeless romance is a common trait that seems to run amuck most young women whom I’ve encountered, and those experiences have been professed by SZA in her previous work, which comes to the conclusion that love can really suck, and there’s certainly truth in those words. The only question was, how would the music from the hurt of the heart be translated? That’s really what was going to be the importance of her return from hiatus.

In only the most SZA way possible, this album has a steady combination of R&B and Pop, because she certainly has that vibe that can cross over into that Top-40-ish sound without having the generic cookie cutter instrumental to compliment. Lyrically, she’s always been strong, and as the now often-quoted line from Love Galore [“why you bother me when you know you don’t want me”] shows us why, there’s more to appreciate as she continues to express her frustrations with Men (or niggas, as she specifically focused on). Plain and simple, the subject matter may turn Men away from listening to this album, and that’s not a bad thing, because as Solange elegantly put it, some shit just isn’t for us. Some might get triggered when they hear Doves In The Wind (until Kendrick’s verse), especially the opening lines (*insert White guy blink here GIF here*), but in reality, Black women go through a lot and are told that their expressions of their negative situations is constant complaining or they’re just angry women. Well, I mean, if you’re constantly disrespected, then that’s gonna happen, and then you know what happens? They get even, or worse, they get petty.

Pettiness and constant disappointment and failed relationships can put someone in a predicament where they’re just used to not being the main course; always the appetizer or side dish. The Weekend is an example of playing the position of borrowing someone else’s love to fill your own voids, which some men & women are comfortable being. These are realities that are faced every day, and SZA’s words are definitely a soundtrack to someone’s life.

“Hanging out the back, all up in your lap
Like is you comin’ home?
Is you out with her?
I don’t care long as you’re here by 10:30
No later than, drop them drawers
Give me what I want”

What also is key to SZA’s work on this album is that the insecurities that she kept locked in, she opened the windows and let them out so that other women could listen and say “you know what? SZA embraces what she has and what she doesn’t have – I can do the same.” Garden is a key song to back up this statement, but it isn’t Many people look to artists to speak their issues for them (which isn’t a bad thing), out of the purpose of being able to relate or find a way in which they too can express themselves and build up their confidence. Words can help, hurt, and heal. It’s magic, as Stevie Wonder once said. Go Gina is one of my favourites, between flow and the beat itself, but again speaking to the young girls who might be listening, encouraging them to go out there and enjoy life. You’re going to make mistakes and fall on your face, but you have to live.

“Been about three years since I dated you
Why you still talking ’bout me like we together?
I moved on for the better
You moved on to whoever
I was down for whatever and then some
You gon’ make me late to work again”

Open admissions of heartache and heartbreak is a commonality within the genre of R&B, and it’s why people are fans of it, because they can have these talent singers & writers speak to their troubled experiences. CTRL is about who has control over your life. Do you have control over it? Does another person have it to make you act the way you do? At what point do you take control over your actions and let go of things in which you can’t control? There are a lot of questions to be answered, but that’s why it’s art, which is open to be deciphered. Not quite a coming-of-age piece, but when you come to terms with who you are and can admit that there’s work to be done, but are comfortable with your flaws, that’s a healthy step into living a life less stressful, because you’re choosing what to give a fuck about. Before I got into a relationship, I could’ve told you 20 Something was very relatable to my life. The 20s are such an interesting time in life, but as I’m in the latter half of them as I approach my 30s, my perspective has changed, but that doesn’t take away the fact that SZA is speaking to those who need to hear it. Growing pains never end, they just find different ways to impact your life. You’ll get the hang of it though.

I’m happy for SZA and that she was able to finally release some damn music. You have to find something in your life to be happy about, and even if there aren’t many, you can still embrace the fact that you’re not entirely alone with your insecurities although at times it may feel like it. SZA has had her own run of making good music to speak to the mistreated and ill-fated lovers who are still figuring their ways through the world, one shit head at a time. It usually pans out though, but until then, if you need some music to help you through your difficult time, ladies, there’s always an outlet. SZA certainly doesn’t mind carrying that so that you don’t lose control. This is my opinion, this is my review,

That’s My Word & It STiXX

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