Quantcast
SZA's 'Ctrl': An Unfinished Diary For The Lost 20-Something Girl In You

SZA's 'Ctrl': An Unfinished Diary For The Lost 20-Something Girl In You

Her Voice

Unpopular opinion time.


At first listen, I wasn't vibing as hard to SZA's debut studio album, Ctrl, as much as my black millennial counterparts. I found it vapid, lost, OTT at points, underwritten in others. There was an overarching theme of being lost. Or perhaps, the 14-track LP played in its 49-minute span like a downward, and then upward self-deprecating spiral.

Leave me lonely for prettier women

You know I need too much attention

I don't see myself

Why I can't stay alone just by myself

I had been entranced by SZA's magic long before the infectious empowering hook, "I gotta do things my own way, darling."

I was drawn to her back in "Babylon" and found true love when I came across her "Teen Spirit." There was something undeniable about the way she put together words, looped metaphors, and did it in a voice that dripped with euphoric highs.

She penetrated.

Her debut EP Z was perfect from beginning to end, but while there was undeniable magic in Z, I'm learning that that was very much SZA, the edit.

It wasn't the real her.

It wasn't as transparent.

It didn't say things so plainly, so brash, so flawed.

It was a filter.

Perhaps that's why Z brought me comfort, whereas Ctrl terrified me.

After my first listen, I was happy to remove it from Apple Music. Shortly afterward, I had a conversation with someone who challenged my thoughts and so I decided to give it two more listens.

I get so lonely, I forget what I'm worth

We get so lonely, we pretend that this works

I'm so ashamed of myself think I need therapy

There, I vibed.

It vibed.

I felt it in a different way those times.

I understood her.

But more than that, I understood me.

How you want me when you got a girl?

The feelin' is wreckless

Of knowin' you're selfish

Knowin' I'm desperate

I was working so hard to leave behind the girl SZA eloquently described in “Love Galore" for “The Weekend" and was trying to transition into that “20 Something" woman who was all about the messy art of becoming and understanding that she knew better.

How could it be?

20 something, all alone still

Not a thing in my name

Ain't got nothin', runnin' from love

Only know fear That's me, Ms. 20 Something

I was so focused on the present that I didn't want these lyrics and her transparency to unearth wounds I'd work so hard to heal, demons I worked to exorcise, and mistakes I knew full well I had been making.

Like her, sex was something I used to fill a void for a long time.

That damned honey pot nestled in between my thighs attracted bees that were undeserving of my nectar.

I gave it away like it was nothing, like I was nothing. I liked that it was a place where I could indulge in emotional release and at times, it painted pictures for me and wove happy endings that weren't really there when we were fully clothed. That was before I took my power back.

Done with these n-ggas

I don't love these n-ggas

I dust off these n-ggas

Do it for fun

I've worked so hard to find this woman underneath the self-imposed inadequacies and doubt. My sense of self was anchored in others' ability or willingness to love me, instead of me taking control and finding security in the fact that I can love me better because I know me best. And I didn't want to recall a time where I ever felt powerless.

In order to feel the Ctrl that my peers had, I had to ironically relinquish my own.

My past is a part of me, but it doesn't define me.

What I've learned from immersing myself in this album is that it is not a bad thing to look back at our pasts. The past is the past for a reason. I listen to the memories and think of my experiences like I would rereading a finished diary. I no longer run from the things I've endured or turn away from the loveless lessons that have come to shape me.

I wouldn't be the woman I am in the present if it weren't for my past. So, I treat the past like a visitor. It is welcomed and comes and goes, but never stays for long. The journey to healing is a lengthy and arduous one. Feeling lost along the way is completely normal. Find beauty in the process.

Find beauty in being lost.

Real n-ggas do not deserve p-ssy

Suffice to say, I love Ctrl now.

Especially “Doves In The Wind." That's my shit for obvious reasons.

What 14 People Say 'Great Sex' Means To Them

What is the difference between bad, average, and great sex? If I ask thirty people this question, I would get thirty different answers. As someone who's had their fair share of both good and not-so-good sex, I understand that there is no one size fits all answer to this question. "Great sex" can mean different things to different people. Case in point, I once had an amazing sexual experience with a guy that a mutual “friend” had a horrible experience with. Great sex is subjective AF! According to the mutual friend his sex was subpar at best. One person’s trash is another one’s treasure. Great sex boils down to what is good for you and your partner at the moment. No two people are the same so no two sexual experiences will be the same either.

Keep reading...Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.
Halle Bailey On The Revolutionary Act Of Wearing Her Locs As Ariel

When the trailer for The Little Mermaid dropped, everyone finally got to see Halle Bailey as Ariel. Black women and girls raved over the singer/ actress’s beauty as the beloved character while she belted out the Disney classic song “Part of Your World.” And one of the most noticeable things that many fans pointed out was that the character’s red hair was made of locs.

Keep reading...Show less
5 Times Megan Thee Stallion & Pardison Fontaine Showed Their Love On The 'Gram

Another day, another photo of Megan Thee Stallion that went viral. But this time she had a little help from her boyfriend Pardison “Pardi” Fontaine. The “Pressurelicious” artist’s fans were in for a surprise a few days ago after Megan posted a photo of herself lying on the floor with her legs up and wrapped around Pardi’s waist. Pardi appeared to be focused on playing his video game while Meg’s derriere was tooted in the air but he managed to wrap his arms around it as he held the controller.

Keep reading...Show less
The Mamie 'Till' Movie Wants To Empower Us

Sitting in the theater getting ready to watch Nopefor the third time, I was excited, like a good film nerd, to see my friend's first-time reactions to the fun UFO horror-comedy. My heart sank immediately when a trailer for the film Till, which follows the life and legacy of Emmett Till's mother, Mamie, started playing first.

My knee-jerk reaction, of course, comes from years of watching film and TV that have exploited Black trauma onscreen and were created with little (if any) consideration for what could emotionally trigger the Black audience. The 1955 murder of Emmett Till is so heartbreaking and inherently violent; would this film make us live through that violence on screen?

Fortunately, no!

This week, before watching Gina Prince-Bythewood's incredible The Woman King, a featurette for Till played in place of a trailer and it soothed my fears.

"There will be no physical violence against Black people on screen," the film's award-winning director and co-writer Chinonye Chukwu says in the featurette. "I'm not interested in relishing in that kind of physical trauma. We're going to begin and end in a place of joy," she says.

Starring Danielle Deadwyler (whose heartfelt performance on HBO's Station Eleven stole the show) as Mamie, Till is a celebration of Mamie's tireless activism which sparked the civil rights movement that continues today and ultimately culminated in President Biden signing the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act into law just a few months ago in March 2022. "Mamie Till Mobley is a hero," says Alana Mayo, president of Orion Pictures, the production company behind the film. "I'm really, really committed to making movies not just by us, but for us," Mayo says in the featurette.

After a private screening of Till, this week, Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, tweeted that the film was "#Powerful" and "a must see."

Mamie's story of courage in the face of unspeakable tragedy deserves to be told--especially as we continue the fight for civil rights today. Knowing that the Black filmmakers behind the film are centering Black joy and aiming for our empowerment through the film makes a world of difference.

TILLis in theaters October 14.

Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.



"

Exclusive Interviews
Latest Posts