CTRL is the debut album from SZA, one of the hottest female R&B and neo-soul singers of the year. It was released on June 9, 2017 by Top Dawg Entertainment and RCA Records. The album supports features from artists such as Travis Scott, Kendrick Lamar, James Fauntleroy and Isaiah Rashad. For her first album, the quality and content SZA give us are beyond impressive- and we are happy to admit this is on the top ten albums of 2017 for us so far.
CTRL starts out strong with a track titled "Supermodel", which is a slow and steady ambient chillier that debuts her flawless vocals right off the jump. The lyrics talk about SZA's insecurities, fear of being alone and desire for her lover to stay with her. The second track "Love Galore (feat. Travis Scott)" is one of the first singles to be released from the project, and the music video on YouTube has racked up over 6.5 million views in just two months. Even though Travis Scott's feature is on the shorter side, he ops for a more sing-song vocal pattern over his usual wordy banter, and the duo absolutely killed it. The end of the song changes tempos to a few beats slower, and SZA delivers a powerful vocal performance that ends the track with a bang.
The album carries on with a steady consistency until the 5th song "Prom", which kicks the overall feel up a couple notches and portrays more of a pop vibe. SZA also shows off her impressive vocals in the chorus when she goes falsetto and hits some ridiculous high notes. The album immediately goes back down again with the 6th track "The Weekend", where SZA sings slowly and melodically about how she is sharing her man with another woman- and she is cool with it (damn, SZA!).
The next notable song is "Broken Clocks" which bumps ridiculously hard, but it is the lyrics in particular that have us so captivated. She opens up with lines like "Run fast from my day job, running fast from the way it was. Jump quick to a pay check, runnin' back to the strip club." and "I'm never going back, never going back. No you can't make me. Never going back, never going back. They never take me." This song really highlights the struggles SZA had to overcome to get to this point in her career, and it makes her relatable and even more impressive than we initially thought.
The last track "20 Something" differs from the rest of CTRL with the electric guitar pattern at the beginning, leaning the song towards jazzy and alternative, which is cool- her voice is so spot-on that it can work with any genre.
CTRL is definitely going to change up the female hiphop game in a good way. SZA did a brilliant job of incorporating pop, R&B, cloud rap, witch house and chillwave elements into this project, making it completely unique and timeless. Her voice is stunning and her wordplay is notable catchy in the majority of the songs, and her and her team of writers nailed the melodies and incorporated just the right amount of repetitive elements. However, what we love the most about this album is the way SZA talks about more abstract things instead of just sticking to relationships and more shallow topics, and how she holds absolutely nothing back. She really tells the story of her personal insecurities, struggles and hardships- which we find admirable.
P.S: Wait until the end of each song to see which ones hold words of wisdom from an eldery woman.
Listen to CTRL on Spotify