SZA Wanted To Join Odd Future Before Signing To TDE

The songbird says she felt like more of a "Clancy girl," but explained why she decided to go with TDE instead.

BYErika Marie

There was a time when Tyler, The Creator and his Odd Future crew dominated music and television. The eclectic group of artists helped usher in a new era of Hip Hop—if not breed a dedicated fanbase committed to copying their styles. SZA was one of those supporters, and in a new interview with The New York Times, the S.O.S. hitmaker revisited those early days in her career. She was the first woman to ink a deal with Top Dawg Entertainment in 2013, but before that, she was an independent artist hoping to join Odd Future.

“Quiet as it’s kept, I wanted to be with, like, Odd Future," said SZA. "I felt more like a [Odd Future manager Christian Clancy] girl." Her connection to Odd Future wasn't absent—SZA would release tracks over Odd Future beats. After making the big leap to move to California, she quickly began establishing a relationship with TDE. It was then that she also linked with Mac Miller, who happened to be a client of Clancy's, as well.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 05: SZA speaks onstage during the 65th GRAMMY Awards at Arena on February 05, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy )
Read More: SZA Reflects On Having A “Great Time” At 2023 Grammys

In the end, the songbird decided to move forward with TDE because, as she says, "Punch believed in me." SZA was referring to Top Dawg's illustrious president who she has had some tense moments with. It has become a lucrative partnership, albeit riddled with controversies. Her debut Ctrl was widely praised, but it would take years before S.O.S. followed. The world watched as SZA called out her label for delaying S.O.S.'s release, but once it arrived, its success was record-breaking.

Elsewhere in the NYT piece, SZA commented on the expectations laid upon Black artists. According to the singer, Black musicians are respected more in the industry if they juggle multiple skills while also coming from a pristine background. She doesn't believe this adequately describes most of the artists with popular influence.

Read More: SZA Ties Whitney Houston’s Billboard Record

SZA says revered artists are those “who play 50 instruments, went to all the right schools, did all the right programs and talked to all the right people. I don’t like that. Black excellence is NBA YoungBoy putting out projects and speaking his heart and screaming into a microphone.”


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About The Author
Erika Marie is a seasoned journalist, editor, and ghostwriter who works predominantly in the fields of music, spirituality, mental health advocacy, and social activism. The Los Angeles editor, storyteller, and activist has been involved in the behind-the-scenes workings of the entertainment industry for nearly two decades. E.M. attempts to write stories that are compelling while remaining informative and respectful. She's an advocate of lyrical witticism & the power of the pen. Favorites: Motown, New Jack Swing, '90s R&B, Hip Hop, Indie Rock, & Punk; Funk, Soul, Harlem Renaissance Jazz greats, and artists who innovate, not simply replicate.