Artist on the Rise: SZA

R&B singer, SZA, is rising above the underrated artist category and making a name for herself in mainstream media. The neo-soul singer made her way to Hollywood by releasing multiple mixtapes that lead up to her studio album.

SZA distinguished herself from other generic pop artists by relating engaging messages. She reveals her perspective on love through her complicated songwriting. While her work used to be very metaphorical, as she described it in an interview with “The Breakfast Club,” she now writes about relationships in a more direct way. Her smooth and sensual vocals on the album, “CTRL”, combines textured instrumentals with raw lyricism.

Her new style doesn’t gloss over love songs with vague meanings to please the masses. Instead, SZA approaches the sensitive and distinguished material with openness and transparency. For example, she takes back the negative stigma behind “side chicks” and normalizes hookup culture in her hit song, “The Weekend.” Like most love songs, “The Weekend” shows that it’s okay to not jump into relationships and to always seek out romance.

“The Weekend,” along with her other hit track “Love Galore,” have made SZA a household name. Her progressive and empowering messages for women are shown across her entire discography. She emphasizes what it means to be single and confident in society, specifically within the world of pop culture. Most of her melodies are dreamlike and unhurried, her voice is alluring, and her uplifting messages brings punches to the tracks.

SZA is one of few emotionally honest artists, which is part of the reason she has received so much traction and praise. In addition to having a beautiful voice, she’s vulnerable and introspective. She reflects on past relationships in songs such as “Drew Berrymore,” “Supermodel,” “Love Galore,” “Prom,” and others.

Multiples tracks, such as “Supermodel,” elaborate on SZA’s past experiences. Lyrics that reference her sleeping with her boyfriend’s “homeboy” out of revenge while he’s “away on Valentine’s Day” may be considered distasteful. Her rhythmic and soulful beats evoke empathy, regardless of the scenario they describe, and fans can’t help but sing along.

SZA explores complex and intricate emotions, and the dramatic yet alleviating instrumentals match this depth across all of her tracks. SZA isn’t an artist that’s confined to one feeling or genre. She explores a wide range of passionate experiences that can resonate with everyone.

Whatever emotion you are experiencing, SZA is an amazing artist to explore with satisfaction.

Contact CUI writer Kristin Endahl  at kristin.endahl@colorado.edu

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