“DD Review: SZA – Ctrl.”

Score: 8/10


In SZA [1] here we have a singing phenom of sorts hailing originally from St. Louis and residing now on the East Coast, exactly like Miles Davis did, in fact. Like Adele, she’s got a sh**-ton of different producers working on her stuff, which is definitely much different in theory from Missy in the ‘90s who just had Timbaland on her stuff.
Also like Adele, she’s got a great voice… Christ this chick is just a fu**in’ black Adele! The skits do add to the album though — at the very beginning we get one about the concept and the actualized materialization of human “control,” the obvious titular subject, and then after track two, after a couple songs about relationship calamities (which refreshingly aren’t whiny) we get some aggressive relationship platitude from a party who I believe is not SZA herself. Anyway, the result is fearsome and along the lines of there being a different producer on every song here, it pays dividends when you get into the topic of snare variation — it’s absolutely jolting on “Doves in the Wind.” “Doves in the Wind” features Kendrick Lamar as well as the word “pu**y” about 60 times or so. Yeah no idea what to think about that, so I’ll just go on to the next topic.
So far my main and only gripe with this music (hardly a shock to the regular DD onlooker) is that this music is fairly poppy — nowhere do I find really any key changes, structural unorthodoxies or jazz ventures, but nevertheless I must compliment SZA and most of the producers on at least wielding the SEEDINESS we get with a Kendrick Lamar on his album, this of course despite her hailing from the opposite coast. “Doves in the Wind,” for all the bedroom bam-bam, fades out with some fu**ed vocal alterations into the night, hence departing stylishly and forgiving the relatively regular lead Ctrl single “Drew Barrymore.” “Drew Barrymore” does, though, open with what we all must admit is a pretty gripping line: “Why is it so hard to accept that the party’s over?”
At large, Ctrl is a dark and undulating… ahem… pop albums (sorry for anyone who thought this was like the edgiest thing they’d ever heard) calling to mind Erykah Badu as a vocal influence and, definitely, Timbaland as a production informant, bumping bass and beats no absentee in this regard. On “The Weekend,” producer ThankGod4Cody takes us through a sort of haunted house of beats and languid synths before at the end unleashing this intricate pattern of what sound like wind chimes. For the listener seeking R&B creativity which could play on the radio or soundtrack a perfect Saturday pregame, Ctrl will do the trick just fine.
[1] The name intentionally or not certainly calls to mind the Wu-Tang Clan emcees RZA (pronounced “rizza”) and GZA (pronounced “jizza) and also Method Man in the Wu who would sometimes go by “MZA.”

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