SZA saves our souls with new release

Released in December, album navigates dysfunctional relationships



The artist’s new album “SOS” includes 23 tracks exploring SZA’s various relationships

After 5 years of anticipation, SZA’s new album “SOS” came out with 23 tracks, all exploring different relationships the artist had been in. This album acts as a soundtrack to young women as it deals with navigating old relationships and toxic exes. 

According to SZA, she recorded 100+ songs while creating “SOS” and had to narrow it down to 23 tracks for the album, 13 tracks longer than the average. Many songs on the album like “Low”, “Special”, and “Nobody Gets Me”, were all produced using  more electronic elements on one hand, and more acoustic on the other. 

“Ctrl”, SZA’s debut studio album had a new take on R&B and included indie, alternative, and trap elements in the songs, arguably defining the future of alternative R&B. 

“Kill Bill,” one of her more conventional songs on the album, quickly became SZA’s most popular song. With lines like “I might kill my ex, I still love him, though/Rather be in jail than alone” being sung along melodic beats, how could it not? Highlighting a major theme of the album, jealousy, “Kill Bill” deals with violent, but often relatable, thoughts all with a harmonious voice and a complex, calming melody. 

The opening line of “Kill Bill”, “I’m still a fan even though I was salty/ Hate to see you with some other broad, I know you happy” is an emotionally devastating line about her watching her ex move on without her. In this song, with almost dreamlike background music, she fantasizes about killing her ex and his girlfriend out of jealousy explaining “If I can’t have you, no one should”.

Along the lines of jealousy and wanting to be wanted, “Blind” is about being in love in a dysfunctional relationship. In this song, SZA sings about  being defined by her past actions. Leading up to the chorus, SZA describes this negatively affecting by singing, “I don’t care how much you knew me in the past tense/ I ain’t no Julia Stiles, this ain’t no last dance/ Way past it, way” And, “Hey, my past can’t escape me”. 

SZA both acknowledges and denies the toxicity of these relationships, “I can’t see, I’m blind”, regarding actions made against her. She talks about wanting to be in a relationship, but oftentimes only being attracted to toxic men, “I like when you pull your gun at the red light/ I like all that’s violence, give me dysfunction.” Even when she is told the relationship is toxic, “Mama told me, ‘Never s**t where you lay at,’” she can’t help but stay in it. SZA blames this behavior on wanting validation and attention from others to prove her own self worth, “F****’ on my ex ‘cause he validate me”.

This idea of validation does not end here. “Used”, “Notice me” and “Far” are all created around this idea of attaching your worth to another person. In “Used”, an auto tuned SZA speaks about being used and not caring, “Yes, I been used to being used like this/ Ain’t no difference.” For SZA, known for her ability to belt out emotionally moving lines, the auto tune acts as almost a mask hiding her true emotion around being “used” and suggests  the reason she is in these relationships is for validation. 

“Notice Me” is a plea for recognition, as it shares a sort of quiet desperation for more attention, “And I still wonder if you notice me, yes”. Starting off with a slower beat, this song explores the realms of being ignored and used, “For that cheap s**t you be spitting, I provide the mood/ It’s cool but you jockin’ me for all my jewels”, but still dealing with it. In“Far”, SZA asks what to do when not validated by other people in her life. In her opening line, we hear an almost depressed, fuzzy voice ask “How do I deal with rejection?/I’m dealing with a lot of rejection right now” along with soft, slow instrumental pieces.

Focused on SZA finding herself without a man, and differentiating herself from her relationships, this album offers listeners songs with a range of emotions– from sadness to vengeance. The sequence of SZA’s albums captures her progress as both an artist and a person, so newer SZA fans might want to listen to her albums in order. However, “SOS” is the perfect album for someone looking to get into R&B and it is ideal for a late night drive.