"Ctrl + Alt + Release"
On June 9th, soul artist SZA released her debut album called Ctrl (pronounced as 'control'). This moderately short project contains 14 solid tracks that get straight to the point of a new and polished SZA for the culture. After going on a three year hiatus since her last project Z, SZA arguably grew into the most anticipated artist within Top Dawg Entertainment. With that being said, she made sure to come back into the game with an slightly different perspective on her music.
Throughout Ctrl she gave he us an enhanced sound through better production, and deeper content about her true life. The album sounds off with a very dramatic, yet organic intro in "Supermodel". With raw drums and a simple bass layer she laces the song with crazy vocal melodies and some sensitive content. Throughout the rest of the album she planned to keep that same level of honesty. On songs like "Garden (Say It Like Dat)" she talked about her imperfections and her acceptance in that; while on "Anything" she sings about her dangerous love for someone. She dug deeper into her complex situationships on "The Weekend" that gives the most soulful/90's R&B sound on the album.
A lot of the tone of the album reminds me of the tone that Khelani has used in her most recent music. On songs like "Normal Girl" and "20 Something", you can hear SZA express herself in that same right as the sounds on SweetSexySavage. SZA even expressed in a Complex interview that she really appreciates Khelani's music and how she recognizes her as one of the best female artists in the game right now. In the midst of this revealing content that she gives us, she kills the album vocally as well. Through a range of different cadences and a switch through different flows, she keeps the project both interesting and unpredictable. One example of this is the way that she flows over the "Broken Clocks" beat.
Most of the production on the album stems from some of the most successful contemporary producers in the game right now: Cam O'bi, Terrence Martin, Pharrell Williams, and Frank Dukes to name a few. You can find at least one of these producers work on Coloring Book, To Pimp A Butterfly, channel ORANGE, and ANTi.
Before the album dropped, SZA explained the overall title of the album coming from the idea of having no control over any parts in life. In a Breakfast Club interview she talked about how she always tried to change and manipulate the destiny of her life, later realizing that she was only really wasting her time. This lead her to become more carefree and living her life exactly how she wants to always, without the worry of controlling anything.
One of my favorite moments on the album are on "Doves in the Wind" where SZA and K. Dot talk about how sex should not be the most important thing in a relationship and how there is always more to it. I also rock with the slowed down '01 Redman sample of "Lets Get Dirty". Another one of my favorite moments on the album is the "Wavy" interlude she did with James Fauntleroy. With the uptempo/pop beat, SZA gives us a snippet of a sound that we have never heard from her before - which makes this great next to her ridiculous melody play.
Watch her feature on an episode of Everyday Struggle on Complex News and hear her break down her current headspace in releasing this album and meaning of the album. Also peep her quick deciphering "Love Galore" on Genius.