Solána Imani Rowe (born November 8, 1990), known professionally as SZA, is an American R&B/neo-soul singer from Maplewood, New Jersey.
After meeting members of record company Top Dawg Entertainment at a Kendrick Lamar concert, she self-released her first EP, See.SZA.Run. in October 2012. She followed this up in April 2013 with her second self-released EP, S. Her first breakthrough, however, came in the release of her first studio EP, Z, in April 2014. It was her first to appear on album charts and got her noticed.
She then disappeared for a while, recording her debut album slowly over the course of 2014, 2015, and 2016. Originally slated to be called A, it was released on June 3, 2017, under the title Ctrl. It debuted at #3 on the US Billboard Album Charts. Just a few months later, her commercial breakthrough came in September that year when she was featured on Maroon 5's #9 hit "What Lovers Do". Her own singles started charting after that, with "Love Galore" peaking at #32 and a Calvin Harris remix of "The Weekend" hitting #29. In March 2018, she was nominated for Best New Artist, Best R&B Performance, Best R&B Song, Best Rap/Sung Performance, and Best Urban Contemporary Album at the 60th Grammy Awards. However, controversially, she won none of them.
- See.SZA.Run (EP) (2012)
- S (EP) (2013)
- Z (EP) (2014)
- Ctrl (2017)
How you want me when you got a trope?
- Ac CENT Upon The Wrong Syl LA Ble: "Love Galore":Got me looking forWARD to weekENDS with you, baBY, with you baBY, with you baBY...
- Abhorrent Admirer: SZA's ex-boyfriend in "Love Galore":Why you bother me when you know you don't want me?
Why you bother me when you know you got a woman?
- All Just a Dream: All the events at "Camp Ctrl" in the "Broken Clocks" video. It's revealed at the end that SZA got into a fight and got knocked out, and dreamt the whole thing while she was unconscious.
- Ascetic Aesthetic: "The Weekend" has a music video that fits the slow, dreamy mood of the song perfectly: SZA hanging out on a pastel hotel balcony with a soft filter.
- *Bleep*-dammit!: Played for Laughs on "Doves in the Wind", where in SZA's second verse the word "dick" is censored even in the explicit version. This despite the word "pussy" being used 28 times in the song and "dick" being said just a few lines earlier uncensored.
- Book-Ends: On Ctrl, the first song, "Supermodel", opens with a clip of SZA's mother talking about control, while the last song, "20 Something", ends with SZA's mother finishing her monologue. Additionally, both tracks have a similar subdued, acoustic guitar-based sound.
- Broken Record: The outro of "Anything" is the same line repeated over and over:Do you even know I'm alive? Do you even know I, I... \ Do you even know I'm alive? Do you even know I, I...
- The outro of "Broken Clocks" is also the line "You love me" repeated five or six times.
- Espistolary Song: "Supermodel" is one, though it's only mentioned at the beginning:I'm writing this letter to let you know
I'm really leaving, and no, I'm not keeping your shit...
- Fun with Acronyms: Up to Eleven with the "Love Galore" single cover◊, where the title forms an acronym for random, unrelated words.Love Olive Vitamins Egg
Gratitude Atom Lemon Octopus Rollie Energy
- Gory Discretion Shot: When the woman with the pickaxe murders Travis Scott in the "Love Galore" video, we are only given a shot of blood splattering on the wall from a window outside.
- Hotter and Sexier: Ctrl sees her singing more explicitly about sex and her personal life. As well, some of the videos from the album are considerably racier than her previous ones, particularly "Love Galore".
- I Am Not Pretty: SZA's insecurities about her appearance come up frequently on Ctrl:
- From "Supermodel":I could be your supermodel if you believe
If you see it in me, see it in me, see it in me
I don't see myself
- From "Garden (Say it Like Dat)":I know you'd rather be layin' up with a big booty
Prolly hella positive 'cause she got a big booty (wow)
I know I'd rather be paid up
You know I'm sensitive about havin' no booty, havin' nobody, only you, buddy
- From "Supermodel":
- Incest Subtext: Inverted in "Supermodel" where people apparently compare SZA and her ex to siblings:"Ooh, just get a load of them, they got chemistry"
All they could say, we like brother and sister
Look so good together
"Bet they fuckin' for real"—and they was right
- Indecipherable Lyrics: Known for this, especially due to the aforementioned Ac CENT Upon The Wrong Syl LA Ble. Try to guess the lyrics to her verse on "All the Stars" without looking them up.
- Inspiration for the Work: In a Genius video explaining the story behind "Love Galore", SZA revealed that she was going for a "relaxed tropical bop" vibe, like The Beach Boys's "Kokomo".
- It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": It's "Sizza" not "S-Z-A" or "Za".
- Lyrics/Video Mismatch: Subverted in the video for "Broken Clocks". Other than the alarm clock at the beginning of the video, the setting at a kids' summer camp seems completely unrelated to the song's lyrics about being constantly busy with work and not being able to balance it with her personal life, but it turns out it was All Just a Dream imagined by SZA after she gets knocked out from a fight at the strip club she's working at (which the song's lyrics do reference.)
- The Mistress: "The Weekend" is all about this, with SZA being the mistress (or one of many). Several other songs on Ctrl also make reference to being involved with men who are already in a relationship.My man is my man is your man, heard that's her man too
Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
I just keep him satisfied through the weekend
- Mondegreen: In the second verse "Love Galore", many listeners mishear the word "bitches" as "beaches"... because that's exactly how SZA pronounces it.note The lyrics still sort of make sense that way, adding to the confusion:Skrrt, skrrt, on beaches, I don't know these beachesnote
Dig dirt on beaches, do it for funnote
- Non-Appearing Title: "Love Galore", "Drew Barrymore", and "Prom" from Ctrl.
- Oh No You Didn't!: On "Supermodel":"Oh no she didn't", oh yes I did
"Oh no she didn't", I'll do it again
- Orphaned Series: Her second and third EPs were titled S and Z respectively. Ctrl was supposed to be titled A but its name was changed during production. It's unknown if an album or EP titled A will ever be released.
- Rhyming with Itself: Does this quite a lot. Usually it's entire lines that are repeated with slight variation for emphasis. See "Garden (Say it Like Dat)" for a good example:I know I be difficult
You know I be difficult
You know it get difficult
- To Forrest Gump on "Doves in the Wind". SZA also imitates Forrest's way of pronouncing "Jenny".note Forrest Gump had a lot goin' for him, never without pussy
You know, Jenny almost gave it all up for him
Never even pushed for the pussy... Where's Forrest now when you need him?
- "Doves in the Wind" also references MADtv, interpolating part of the show's intro:You are now watching MADtv...
- The song "Drew Barrymore", though the lyrics don't make any reference to her.
- The title and lyrics of "Go Gina" are a reference to the character Gina from Martin and the title character's catchphrase "Damn, Gina!"
- In "Normal Girl" she interpolates part of Drake's "Controlla":Okay, you like it, when I be agressive...
- To Forrest Gump on "Doves in the Wind". SZA also imitates Forrest's way of pronouncing "Jenny".note
- Spoken Word in Music: The songs on Ctrl are interspersed with snippets of her real-life mother, aunt and grandmother talking and giving life advice.
- The Unapologetic: Assumes this role in "Supermodel" after admitting to sleeping with a wronging ex-boyfriend's friend, both in how nonchalantly she confesses this and these following lines:"Oh no, she didn't." Ooh yes, I did.
"Oh no, she didn't." I'll do it again.
- Your Cheating Heart: On "Supermodel", in response to an ex-boyfriend wronging her (ditching her on Valentine's Day to go to Las Vegas), she openly and unabashedly admits to pulling this as revenge.Let me tell you a secret
I've been secretly banging your homeboy