If you’ve had SZA’s SOS on repeat, and yet, those 23 tracks of pure gold haven’t quite quenched the need for more of our good sis, The New York Times has just what you’re looking for. SZA was honored with the February 2023 magazine cover story, a beautiful deep-dive into the CTRL and SOS creator.
The article, titled SZA’s Ruination Brought Her Everything, takes us on a journey from back to the hallways and gymnasium of Maplewood’s Columbia High in New Jersey where the star grew up, to an intimate background on all things SOS, present-day in her Santa Monica home.
Author and podcast host, Danyell Smith, truly gave SZA her flowers in this beautiful story where we get insight on our Queen of The Weekend, entailing the stories behind her sound and songs, where and how she grew up, being raised in an interfaith household, and summers in St. Louis, Missouri with the infamous grandmother whose cameos on the singer’s CTRL tracks have become mantras.
“Her asymmetrical blues are steeped in yearning, anger, fleeting bravado, loneliness, excess, unease,” Smith wrote.
One of the many beauties of this article is the recognition of SZA’s ability to transcend genres, and how her inability to be stuffed into a category is what makes her unique.
“People just sweep me into this conversation of R.&B., and like — whatever. It’s like, yeah, but I can do so much more,” said SZA as quoted by Smith, “I can do anything.”
Being unique is something the star isn’t new to. The writer does a fantastic job of weaving bits and pieces from the singer’s upbringing to parallel the present, like the existential crises she’d eloquently write about when she was eight, performing at her middle school talent show and learning to own her voice, to landing a daring double back handspring after being booed by mean girls in the middle school gym.
SZA explained, “…and the crowd went crazy. It went from booing to, like, I can’t believe that bitch just did that. Oh, babe, I can transform haters. That ruined me.”
And pulling on the title of the piece, SZA confirmed that moment as a definitive shift for her as using ruin and real-life experiences to pierce her music and the hearts of all who listen.