The New Jersey-born singer has been teasing the release of a sophomore album for years now, but with the album originally expected to arrive before the year's end, we’ve rounded up everything we know about the unnamed project so far.
It’s 5am on February 17th, 2021 and SZA has just logged onto CBS This Morning. “New music is literally on the way. I haven’t slept. I’m coming directly from the studio right now,” she says in the interview. “I left the studio at like 3:30 am. Music is on the way.”
When SZA burst onto the music scene back in 2012 with her self-released debut EP See.SZA.Run, she was already meeting positive reviews, not for the project’s ability to hit numbers with radio replayability (it was still a pretty low-key release at the time), but for its character as a deeply intimate, personal experience-- the exact reason that fans have come to love her music so much. “I’m just a girl from the ‘burbs who talks about exactly how she feels too often,” she continued on the air with CBS.
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The same goes for her subsequent EPs S and Z-- the stories she tells, married with her distinct sound, often feel extremely personal, as though they are being told by a friend on a late-night phone call. With Ctrl, that sound found its true moment of triumph, a lush testament to SZA's genre-bending sonic range. Ctrl envelops listeners in the mess of young love. The distinguishing lilt to her voice flowers over every song.
Four years later, Camp SZA is still waiting for new music. Their ears haven’t been barren though; since dropping Ctrl back in 2017, SZA released two songs under her label-- the 2020 singles “Hit Different” featuring Ty Dolla $ign and “Good Days”, as well as a number of other notable collaborations (including her viral features on “Kiss Me More” by Doja Cat and “fue mejor” by Kali Uchis). SZA herself, however, has expressed that she’s ready to put out her new music.
“I have so much to write about. I feel like I’m in a cage,” SZA told Flaunt in a recent interview. “I’m making the best album of my life, and I know that.”
Here's everything we know about SZA's forthcoming album, below.
SZA hasn’t announced any of her features or offered much news around the new project’s tracklist, but she has a number of superstar collaborations in the vault.
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In an interview with Kerwin Frost back in 2019, SZA revealed that she has a number of exciting collaborations on the backburner, having worked with the likes of Justin Timberlake, Post Malone, and Jack Antonoff over the years.
“Yesterday, I was in the studio with Justin Timberlake,” she said in the interview, which took place in the living room of SZA’s New York residence. “That was kind of nuts. We made a really cool song, and I couldn’t believe it. We’re on the same label I heard, which I didn’t know until yesterday, and he was like, ‘I wanna work with you.’ I was like, ‘Why?’, and he was like, ‘Shut up, let’s just make stuff,’ and we did, and it was really great.”
Fans have speculated that SZA’s longtime friend Doja Cat may also be on her new album, considering the New Jersey-born singer’s feature on Doja’s hit single “Kiss Me More”. Lizzo may be featured on the album as well.
“Recorded with Lizzo ‘til 5 last night,” SZA tweeted back in May of this year. “Very pure experience. Always a vibe. Really love my fren.”
The delayed release of SZA’s new album seems to be due to some issues with her label, Top Dawg Entertainment-- at least in part.
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Last year, SZA responded to fans’ questions about her album release date on Twitter. “At this point, y’all gotta ask Punch,” she said in a now-deleted tweet, referencing rapper, producer, and music executive Punch of Top Dawg Entertainment. Shortly afterward, a fan asked Punch when they could expect SZA to drop new music. To that, he bluntly yet vaguely responded, “soon.”
SZA relayed Punch’s response back to her fans. “This is all he says to me as well,” she tweeted out. “Welcome to my f*cking life.”
Despite the delays her album has encountered over the years, SZA has since set the record straight on her relationship with Punch, clarifying that there are no hard feelings. “Punch is my manager (not a machine or label),” she spoke out in a tweet published in May. “Also been like my stage dad the last 10 yrs. Be nice to him pls. He really fights for me. Not angry with him. Or anybody really. Just my own choices.”
SZA’s unreleased song “SHIRT” went viral on TikTok earlier this year, which has since become one of the focal points on her expected project.
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After sharing a snippet of her new song “SHIRT” on TikTok back in January, the song went viral, and SZA has clarified that although she wasn’t certain about the song’s placement on the project at first, the song’s feedback and transformation over the last year have made the track a central part of her upcoming album.
“I guess the way TikTok works… is you can take any original sound from any place and make it a thing, so now this song that I wasn’t even 100 percent sure of the placement on my album has centered itself on my album,” SZA told CBS This Morning. “I’m in a rush to get it out and ready… I shot a video for it, and now it’s ‘SHIRT’.”
Watch SZA's live performance of "SHIRT", still unreleased, below at 48:26.
Teasing her fans, SZA has joked about “scrapping” everything she has for her new album and starting from scratch multiple times, though she continues to hint at her creative and sonic direction.
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In a July 2021 interview with Women’s Wear Daily, SZA dropped a few hints regarding the material and sounds fans can expect to hear on the still-untitled project.
“I think they’ll be surprised to know that it’s not what they thought, and it’s not coming when they thought,” SZA said. “I hope that they’ll be pleasantly surprised.”
With this project, SZA is aiming for a “fresh” perspective that listeners haven’t heard from her before, cementing her role and sound as an artist. “This album is going to be the sh*t that made me feel something in my heart and gut,” she continues in the interview. “That’s what’s going to go on the album. I’m making all different types of sh*t every day from different places in my spirit.”
Even with these visions in mind, SZA is undoubtedly continuing to perfect the project and has-- on multiple occasions-- insinuated that she might scrap the music altogether and start anew. “I’m actually probably about to scrap all of it and start from scratch,” she said in the interview, only half-joking-- this isn't the first time she's talked about doing so.
In August of this year, SZA released 3 new songs on an anonymous Soundcloud account, though it’s unclear which of these tracks, if any, will officially appear on the new project.
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On August 22nd at 5:06am, SZA announced on Twitter that she had dumped some “random thoughts” on three unreleased tracks, all published on Soundcloud under an anonymous account, simply entitled “.” and based “nowhere.” The three songs, “Nightbird”, “I Hate You”, and “Joni”, are driven by their dreamy bedroom whimsy.
In a tweet posted two hours later, SZA revealed that she was urged to drop the songs after her astrologer told her to release the tracks at exactly 5:01am PST. Whether or not the tracks will be featured on the upcoming album, however, is unknown.
A fake announcement declaring that SZA’s album would be released last Friday, November 5th recently spread through Twitter. SZA was quick to clear up those rumors.
Image via HNHH. Photo shot by @frankievegara_
Last month, a fake announcement published by a SZA fan account on Twitter, @UngodlySolana, declared that SZA’s album would be released on November 5th, spreading the rumor across Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms. The announcement was understandably met with a few raised eyebrows, given that SZA’s feature on Summer Walker’s Still Over It-- Summer’s newest album, released November 5-- had already become common knowledge.
SZA was swift in clearing up the rumors. “I jus wanna know y y’all think I would drop same time as Summer and I’m ON her album, like wut,” she tweeted out in her reply to a fan.
Despite a release date still being unannounced, SZA confirmed a 2021 drop at the top of the year.
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In an interview with Cosmopolitan that arrived in January 2021, SZA seemingly confirmed with the publication that the album would be arriving this year-- a twitter event at the time went viral, with the headline, Yes, SZA *Will* Be Dropping an Album this Year. Obviously, we are still waiting for a confirmed release date.
Nonetheless speaking with the publication on the much-teased album, SZA said, "This album is going to be the sh*t that made me feel something in my…here [gut] and in here [heart]."
She continued, "That’s what’s going to go on the album. I’m making all different types of sh*t every day from different places in my spirit."
SZA plans to keep quiet about the project until the album officially drops.
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In her Flaunt interview, SZA was asked to comment on the “sophomore jinx”-- how artists who have reached great success with their first album might sometimes hit devastating creative ruts with their second.
“I’ve been talking sh*t to myself on different topics every day for the last week,” SZA said on her sources of creative inspiration. “[That’s] typically how I start-- coming up with little catchphrases in the car on the way home. I’ll be like, ‘Cute.’ Then I’ll be like, ‘I think I’m ready to write and start recording.”
When asked to make further comments on the contents of the upcoming album, the “Drew Barrymore” singer remained blunt. “I’m literally not talking about my album anymore until it’s out in the world,” she emphasized. “At this point, I’m gonna start jinxing it, and I don’t want to jinx anything.”
While we’re not quite sure when SZA’s new album will drop, we’ll keep you updated as more information becomes available.