CTRL by SZA, via Top Dawg Entertainment and RCA Records
Honesty hurts when you’re getting older. A universal truth that comes with passing of time and age; SZA has managed to turn much of the emotional pain and turmoil that comes with that emotional growth into a beautifully curated 14 track album and declaration of love to all the women in the world learning to love themselves.
While SZA intended the album to play more like an intimate reading of her own personal diary on the journey of self exploration, Ctrl ultimately blossomed into the all-too relatable soundtrack for all 20-somethings. The songstress takes intimate tales of gender bending imperfections, unrequited love and self doubt that track by track, fills the pages of the diary-esque albums with some of our all too real realties: Addictive Vices, Fuckboys, Self Doubt, Unmet Expectations (to name some of the more relatable few). Yet, it was her revel with the difficult, prismatic and complex looks into the female, more so women of color, identity and experiences that makes the album such a powerful proclamation into the strength of a women who is solely trying to do her best. Solely trying to learn to love herself. Solely surviving in a world that consistently works against those agendas. So often generalized or romanticized within mainstream music; a young women’s journey to emotional recovery was finally met with an impressionable, danceable and relatable album.
Raw in emotion, unfiltered in thought, (& featuring guest spots from heavy hitters like Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott & a video directed by Solange) SZA broke into the scene proving she was here to play the music game by her own rules. Ctrl became more than an album this year, but a bold statement in a year of fear, uncertainty and hardship. SZA reminded us all that self love was the radical notion we all needed to master to get us through a difficult year. And it will definitely continue to do so for all the ones yet to come. There will be enough laborious emotions, complicated heartbreak and exhausting chaos provided by the outside world; but being honestly and emotionally reflective, vulnerable and loving ourselves in all our imperfect, unapologetic glory will provide us all our own ultimate CTRL through it all. And this album is here to remind us, every time we need even the smallest reminder, of how much we have to gain by loving ourselves first.