SZA: “I met them like two and a half years ago at Kendrick’s first show at Gramercy theatre for CMJ. At the time 10Deep was sponsoring the show and I was working with 10Deep. Afterwards I was like, I can bring you guys some merch to where you’re staying, let me know your sizes. I get everybody’s sizes and brought enough merch to clothe a small village, it was insane.

“I bought my home girl Ashley with me because I was afraid to go by myself. She was listening to some music I did with my brother and she jamming out with her headphones all loud. [TDE’s president] Punch was like, ‘What are you listening to?’ She was like, ‘You didn’t know? This is her.’

 

30 minutes later, after I leave the hotel, I get a phone call. It’s Top Dawg and he goes, ‘There ain’t no 3Xs in here, we told you, you have to bring 3Xs.’ I’m like, ‘I know but we don’t make 3X, I’m really sorry is there anything I can do? Give you more clothes?’ He’s like, ‘Come get all this s**t, we don’t want none of that s**t.’

 

“I was like this is the most unprofessional thing in my entire life, please stop talking, this isn’t about anything that we are doing. This is about dropping off 10Deep, getting in and getting out. He snatched the headphones from her and listened to it and was like, ‘Your voice is really crazy, like really pretty.’ He was like you should come meet folk, what are you doing later?’ Nothing. ‘I might call you to come to the studio.’ I was like, ‘Oh shit’ I’m in.

“30 minutes later, after I leave the hotel, I get a phone call. It’s Top Dawg and he goes, ‘There ain’t no 3Xs in here, we told you, you have to bring 3Xs.’ I’m like, ‘I know but we don’t make 3X, I’m really sorry is there anything I can do? Give you more clothes?’ He’s like, ‘Come get all this shit, we don’t want none of that shit.’ I’m crying, I’m getting yelled at because I fucked up. I didn’t go back to get it, they can just throw it out the window if that’s how they feel. I’m terrified and not going back. Needless to say, that studio option is out of the window. As soon as it was there, it was gone.

“But I started to talk to Punch on some friendly shit. Every once and in a while he would come to the city and be like, ‘What’s up? Just checking in on you.’ I built a rapport with him, more so me as a person. Every once in a while I’d send him a song I did to see what he thought.

“No one other than Daniel, Ashley, and my boyfriend had heard my music, not even my mom. But he heard it and liked it and his opinion matters. I’m sending him all these jams and he’s like, ‘What are you trying to do?’ I didn’t know. So we are just keeping it casual.

“Needless to say, Punch found me. I switched managers in-between but to come full circle back to TDE is the craziest thing ever. It’s almost like divine shit. I trust him already as a human being and watched how he moved and how they moved. They move with integrity.

“Even with them getting hot at me for bringing the wrong sizes, that’s your team. You ride for your team and don’t give a fuck about 10Deep. At that time, 10Deep was a multimillion-dollar company and Dot had just done his first show at Gramercy and they wanted to sponsor you and you don’t care because it’s more about your integrity. Moments like that taught me the highest and utmost respect for them. I trust them with my life because they are real and family like, more than a business.

 

I trust Punch already as a human being and watched how he moved and how they moved. They move with integrity.

 

“It’s efficient because it’s a small team; it’s more personal that way. I’m getting phone calls from Top and recording in his house. It’s not intense reassurance and it motivates me to be iller because they are not overly reassuring people, they are very more, ‘You know what you are suppose to do, go do it.’ That’s the way it’s supposed to be. I’d rather somebody nurture me in my creativity and give me all the tools I need, link me with any producer, and give me a studio I can record in all the time and maybe come in every once and awhile and organize my thoughts and talk to me.

“That’s all I could ever ask for. Rather than somebody celebrate and give me a bottle of champagne and a party. This is the most genuine support group you could ever ask for. It’s like what a label should be.”