The 26-year old R&B singer’s album trailer attempted to answer this question for fans who have been waiting for the intoxicating, soon-to-debut album CTRL, one of the most anticipated musical efforts of 2017. After a range of start and stop album release dates and a now deleted tweet alluding to her retirement from music, the music world has been on edge. Would there be a follow up to her three critically acclaimed EPs, See.SZA.Run (2012), S (2013), and Z (2014)?
Indeed, she had written and performed on Rihanna’s Anti single “Consideration” last year and helped to pen Nicki Minaj’s and Beyonce’s “Feelin Myself” in 2014. There were even more recent digital bread crumbs from SZA posting Instagram videos from her late night choreography sessions in a ominous dance studio and rapid firing tweets about CTRL‘s imminence, but ladies and gents the mystery still remains. Where is the album?
But funny enough, the answer is as simple as it is complicated. In a recent interview with Vogue, SZA stated, “I’ve been working on me. Which subsequently affects the album. Music, or the type of music that I’m writing, is very personal. Music is my form of cleansing and introspection, so I have to grow in order to accomplish it.” And artist growth can be a grueling yet revealing process which is evident in her latest release, “Drew Barrymore,” her soul driven sonic offering that sees the Maplewood, New Jersey native brooding over her own insecurities around everything from not shaving to failing to wear the perfect “mom jeans,” solidifying that aches and pains are crucial to personal evolution. But no matter how you look at SZA, her true sense of self is more evident these days with laser point focus. And to top it all off, SZA has been mastering the art of self care, while other artists are tirelessly cranking out hits; a virtue that we should strive to take into account while hounding our favorite artists.
For starters, SZA has taken an affinity for exfoliation as meditation, stating, “it’s gradual and I see myself every day. It’s just more like, washing my face twice every day and for real, combing and curling my hair, or really caring about my teeth,” which is evident in her physical manifestation. From her sexy throwback vibes at the Jeremy Scott front row this past season to her glowing skin, SZA presents herself with a confident and refreshed manner; what some fashion enthusiast may consider as “glam.” Although SZA laughs at the notion and labeling of being “glammed out,” her physical transformation is a direct influence of her reimagined self care habits. “I think when I was younger, I used to look at a bunch of other people and be like, ‘Damn, she’s so beautiful! How do Rihanna’s kneecaps stay so shiny?’ She fucking exfoliates, that’s what’s going on! She’s moisturizing; she’s caring! You can take care of your body and it will low-key show you respect in turn.”
Her beauty regimen remains simple: black soap and hemp oil every day, twice a day. She’s also become rigorous about her mental health, taking high levels of vitamin C and omega-3’s stating “you can’t smoke weed all day and not drink water, and wonder why you’re not able to do shit!” You don’t have to wonder or wish to do things, you just have to be active about caring for yourself. Just give a shit. I just started caring for myself.”
“I’m not a separate entity from ‘artist me,'” SZA assures as a response to her transformative style of spandex for club hopping to a phase of heather grey normcore-inspired looks. “I was just over-curating myself and my life, because I wasn’t accepting and releasing, and not flowing,” she explains. “I was just trying to edit and do things that didn’t serve me. So right now, I feel like I’m just in a very free state where I’m not really trying to edit. I’m trying to magnify all the fly moments I see in my head, just bring them shits to the real world, bring it all to real life, and supersize that shit.”
And taking CTRL of her look also means taking control of the creative process. From her ’90’s Gap inspired Kaleidoscopic sweatshirts in the Google primary colorway, SZA’s imagination is executed through a “digestible and effective, clear and concise” visual representation that is in part due to her new stylist Dianne Garcia who is responsible for her January Jimmy Kimmel Live! performance.
As for her stunning and glowed up social media posts, SZA is not here to document all of her experiences via digital platforms. Although they seem like heaven; the clash of Tommy Hilfiger overalls with Ivy Park bra tops, the artist has her hesitations about the social media platform. “Oh, Instagram stresses me out on a very deep level! I can’t be a part of it! It’s just a weird . . . I don’t know how to translate life into a digital experience. It’s way more exciting to me to just be in the moment.” And considering the holistic view that SZA has been taking as we prep for the release of CTRL, we could all take a tip or two from the Maplewood, New Jersey native and reconstruct our lives through self care.
We’ve become so automated and laissez-faire about self care practices and routines through this new digital age. We are moving at rapid speed, trying to keep up with trends, the slew of celeb gossip and entertainment that we have neglected our truest virtue: maintaining our physical, mental and spiritual attributes. So, while we are steadily waiting for SZA to drop her debut album, we should take a page out of her book and (1) allow our artist to be human and (2) be human ourselves. Because let’s face it, the best music cannot be microwaved, it must come from an organic and ethereal process, much like SZA’s music aesthetic. So next time we are waiting for a music release, lets take in account that the artists is…living.
Stay tuned for more updates on SZA’s forthcoming project CTRL and in the mean time, check out her live performance of Drew Barrymore below.