TDE's newly signed singer, SZA releases her debut album, "Z", which is another notch in the belt for the West coast label.
Top Dawg Entertainmentâs big-haired, freckled, suburban newcomer released her debut album, ZÂ on April 8th. The ten-track album is the follow up to her 2013-released free EP S. TDEâs Kendrick Lamar and Isaiah Rashad appear on the album along with Chicagoâs Chance The Rapper. The new offering of her self-described âglitter trapâ has production by Mac Miller, Toro Y Moi, Emile Hayne and the late Marvin Gaye. Born Solana Rowe, the St. Louis born and New Jersey-raised singer and songwriter stays consistent with her usual cryptic lyrics.Â
âSuperficial, superwoman/Ainât you tired of that wind in your face?/Your skin tastes like brussel sprouts I swear/Canât seem to remember your face/So give it up give it up papa/Make it make sense to me/I can not go any further than two steps in front of me,â the 24-year-old sings on the first track, âURâ, which is produced by Mac Miller. The recent Vogue-featured artist's airy and ephemeral voice is reminiscent of Nigerian singers Sade and Nneka.Â
âChilds Playâ (produced by XXYYXX and Dae One) is a relaxing synthesized track, but is interrupted by Chance The Rapperâs pitchy voice. âRipping the heads off all my Barbie dolls/Toss them to the side, give them convertibles/Click vroom, I like the way it rides up/Ken had it all, Skipper wanted more than/Watching from the sidelines, wish that she had it/She wish that she had it,â SZA sings, sure to make one nostalgic of childhood.
The 1980âs inspired mid-tempo track âJuliaâ breaks the monotony and ensues visuals of finger-snapping women in tube socks, off-shoulder sweat shirts and side ponytails. âWarm Windsâ, the hopeful track about acceptance and lonely nights follows. âI am shooting stars you will never see me/Watching over your every mistake/Digging out of graves is never easy/Handing you my shovel, here to take/Always playing catch me if you can/Gingerbread you heard Iâm sweet to taste/Close your eyes let go and count to ten,â she croons prior to the Isaiah Rashad assisted hook after a beat change.
The Toro Y Moi-produced record, âHi Jackâ starts off sounding like Erykah Baduâs 2003 track âBack in the Day (Puff)â and is definitely a ride through space. âSometimes I keep you in my mind...do anything to keep you tied up,â SZA sings on the hook about a sweet obsession.
Dark and depressing, âGreen Mileâ takes Z for a twisted turn. âSharpshooter in my backyard/Killed a small boy once, never told no one/If It wasnât for my shotgun, heâd be alive and Iâd be halfway to heaven/Instead of sitting in the dark,going through hell/You should have been here/Wish you had been here", the brown skin beauty sings. Similar to Foster The Peopleâs âPumped Up Kicksâ, if youâre only caught up in the melody, youâd never know that the song is so tragic.Â
The newcomer begs for a lover to hold her captive to their love and âspread like disease all overâ her on the DJ Dahi-produced track âBabylonâ, which has a cameo by TDEâs most highly-praised artist Kendrick Lamar. SZA surprisingly gets sultry singing about her and her loverâs sexapade,âWe did ungodly ghastly things, last night I mean/Whoâs God anyway?/Youâre mine any day/Itâs burning/Take me/I wanna feel/Your power/This final hour/Tell meâ
âSweet Novemberâ, one the albums blatant stand-out tracks, is groovy, highlighting guitar strings. The song could have easily been recorded live at New York Cityâs notable 1960 jazz club, Birdland. Singing about a fear of love SZA jolts the album with the soft rock record âShattered Ringâ (produced by Emile Hayne). Playing up her ambiguity, she shouts out The LOXâs most prominent member, Jadakiss in the second verse,âGiddy up Goldilocks, you took too long to save me/Bumping that Jadakiss is dangerous for sanity/Open my candy box, for you sir,sugar daddyâ
The album wraps up with âOmegaâ, an aerial cry out to God. âMountains on my fingertips/I stand at the tippy, screaming at the top of my lungs/Tears in my eyes/Adonai, Ya Allah, answer my calls if you hear me/Adonai, Ya Allah, answer my calls if you hear meâÂ
Overall, SZA plays it safe with the consistency of her voice and sound, allowing fans of her previous releases to enjoy her norm while also offering something refreshing to new listeners.Â Unlike typical singers, she sings about love in an inconspicuous way that would even make the most cynical person covet a passionate experience, because somehow she makes the not-so-good parts about love sound magical. In addition to covering heartbreaks and obsessions, the whimsical artist candidly offers her take on American tragedy and shows her vulnerability while begging God to talk to her.Â Z, is definitely a release not to be slept on.Â The album would probably most likely be enjoyed in a candle-doobie lit smoky room, accompanied by a glass of white wine.Â