As I prepare to enter into my third consecutive month of twerking to "Low" as one of my morning non-negotiables, I can't help but be in awe of the way 2023 is shaping up for our girl SZA. The singer-songwriter has been known to provide us with rawly introspective anthems that speak to the parts of us that are healed and the parts of us that still have a little more work to do. It's that relatability and that vulnerability that made us pay attention when she dropped her debut album CTRL, made us yearn for her in the years that followed, and made us pledge our allegiance to SZAisms after she released her highly anticipated sophomore album SOS last month.
We tapped into whatever it was SZA had to give us and what we were met with was nothing short of a masterpiece. With five years separating the first project from her latest, SZA's 23-track body of work was well worth the wait. She experimented with new sounds, hopped across different genres, and composed inner and outer thoughts into beautifully sung revelations that seemed to stretch her as both a writer and a vocalist. In the weeks since the December 9, 2022 release, SZA has had much to celebrate.
Not only did the album debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, but it has spent its entire chart run so far in that No. 1 slot, a feat that hasn't been accomplished by an R&B album since Usher's 2004 Confessions. This plus the songstress gearing up to perform a sold-out tour has 2023 looking like SZA and we're just a month into the year.
One of the singles from this era includes the song "Nobody Gets Me." In a recent interview with Audacy's Alice @ 97.3 in San Francisco, SZA spoke to host Jayn about the expression of all her sides. With that song in particular, SZA touched on how she feels about her specialty for taking some of her worst moments into a thing of beauty in her art. “That’s my true joy, to juxtapose all things. It’s like my favorite pastime," she said.
The 33-year-old's music is a testament that the truth isn't always 'sexy,' but it can be beautiful. For SZA, in particular, the joy can be found in going deeper and daring yourself to confront emotions that might not be comfortable, but often need to be expressed. “If I was in there just singing whatever, it would be so boring I’d want to leave. I, like, wouldn’t want to do music anymore. If I have to be in there alone, I need to dig in, or just, like, scare myself and put myself in situations that make me be like, ‘do you really want to say that?’"
She continued, "I feel like there’s so many more moments that I could take things so much further to that effect, and I’m excited to – I want to say everything that I was even scared to say on this album, I just want to push myself until I’m, like, naked. I don’t know why I have this weird obsession with stripping myself of my skin. It could be like masochism, I don’t know what it is. But, it’s definitely an addiction.”
Like an artist who is her own muse, her greatest desire is to be emotionally naked and bear it all for she knows in her vulnerability lies one of her greatest strengths. "Whether it’s rushing [through] water of white rapids… or writing a song that says something about me that’s like, ‘I think I want to cry right now…’ I feel free and empowered and curious about even what my next words are going to be. That aspect of me is something really interesting to explore.”
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.
Featured image by Anna Webber/Getty Images for Spotify