The Impact That SZA's 'Ctrl' Left On The Music Industry

Culture & Entertainment

A year ago today, SZA released her debut album Ctrl. I think I can speak on behalf of many others when I say that it's an album that was on rotation the whole summer of 2017.

And with banging visuals for fan favorites like "Doves In The Wind" and "Garden (Say It Like Dat)" being released left and right, the album's the gift that keeps giving. The impact that it made in R&B and music as a whole can't be overlooked nor denied.

What made SZA win over America's heart was how perfectly imperfect she was. There was no filter for her raw and vulnerable lyrics. From the harsh relatability of wanting to be validated by the man you love to being over men and their antics altogether, there were pieces of the twenty-something experience laced throughout the 14-track debut. Her own insecurities and aspirations transformed into anthems like "Normal Girl" and "20 Somethings." It's something that most music had been missing.

Through each track, SZA became our homegirl and confidant, offering lessons she learned from her mother and grandmother through her own experiences of how to conquer fear, and finally take back control of our lives despite its obstacles and setbacks.

Ctrl solidified SZA as a threat in the music industry and listeners were in unanimous agreement. Her fanbase skyrocketed, accolades piled in, and her singles climbed the charts to new heights. SZA's journey to becoming one of today's leading ladies of R&B is an inspiring and miraculous one. Given its cultural impact, some might not realize there was a time Ctrl was not going to ever see the light of day.

In October 2016, after frustration waiting for TDE's president Punch to schedule the release of her album, SZA told fans in a tweet that she was quitting music. Thankfully, that never happened, but prior to the album's release, anxiety of failing began to kick in and further delayed the process.

In an interview with The Guardian, she said:

"I freestyle everything, all the way down. And I listen back and think, what's sh*tty? And if something's too sh*tty and I can't put my finger on it, and I think, wow this sucks to me, then I get way frustrated, and usually scrap the song."

Her anxiety got to the point that TDE had to step in themselves and release the album. SZA had low expectations, but the outcome turned out to be a 180 flip. Ctrl went platinum along with its leading single "Love Galore," while "The Weekend" sits at 2x platinum and "Garden" and "Broken Clocks" reached Gold. It became one of the most critically-acclaimed albums of 2017 and she became the most nominated woman at the 2018 Grammy Awards with five nominations.

What SZA achieved in less than a year is almost unheard of in today's R&B. And although she is considered an alternative R&B artist, her success further pushed the narrative that it's possible for R&B to thrive in a rap and pop-dominated industry. And it's only the beginning for the 27-year-old phenom.

Let's reminisce in the comments, what's your favorite track from Ctrl and why?

Want more stories like this? Check out these xoNecole related reads:

SZA Is A Testament To Feeling Fear & Doing It Anyway

SZA Getting Pulled From The TDE Tour For Swollen Vocal Cords Is A Reminder To Take Care Of Self

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

As Normani continues to make her stride as a solo artist since the disbandment of girl group Fifth Harmony, the singer has since leaned on Kelly Rowland for advice. And who better than Kelly?

Keep reading... Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

It was actually pretty close to this time last year when I penned the piece "How To Get Through The Holidays If You Don't Observe Them". Unlike some of the other articles that I write for the site, I pulled that one from very personal experience. Being that my personality is very wired to "be good" on something once I know its origin, holidays are something that I tend to take a pass on; this includes Thanksgiving (some insightful reads on its origin are found here, here and here). Still, this doesn't mean I'm not aware of the fact that many people use this time of year to reflect on their blessings and to say "thanks" for all the good that has come their way. Since I like to write on relationships a lot, I thought to myself, "Why not come up with ways for people to show gratitude to their significant other?"

Keep reading... Show less

I didn't want to say that I was having bad luck. That's not something I'd ever want to speak into existence over my life. But I will say something wasn't right. I had a few coins stacked in my purse from a one-time project as well as from an ongoing one. Then I received emails from not one but two publications within days apart asking me if I'd like to contribute a few articles every week. Opportunities and money were flowing in. If you follow the law of attraction, you'd say I was vibrating on a high frequency.

Keep reading... Show less

Tinashe has learned a lot about her mental health while growing up in the entertainment industry. The singer/songwriter began dancing at four years old and had her first movie role at five years old.

From there, she went on to be in a girl group The Stunners and act in TV shows like Two and a Half Men. Now as an independent artist focusing solely on her music, the "All Hands on Deck" singer opened up about the struggles she faced in the industry.

Keep reading... Show less

My favorite time of the year is the start of the official boot season which begins during the transitional period between summer and fall. What's most exciting about the sudden drop in temperatures is stepping back into those sleek pair of boots for the first time in months. Whether zipping up oldies but goodies or investing in a new fall 2021 boot trend, this year is all about the calf boot. Specifically, this is the best option when easing your summer clothes into the appropriate fall looks.

Keep reading... Show less
Exclusive Interviews

'David Makes Man' Star Arlen Escarpeta Believes Love And Accountability Go Hand In Hand

"While we are quick to judge others, we really have to look at ourselves and call out some of the things that we do."

Latest Posts