Ever since the singer linked up with the TDE crew, SZA has produced a steady stream dope music. She proved herself as a capable feature artist alongside the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Jay Rock, but more importantly she shined as the lead artist on several projects, including 2014's eclectic, soulful EP, Z. Several solid years of momentum have us waiting impatiently on SZA's Ctrl, her debut studio album dropping on June 9.
The 26-year-old singer was kind enough to spend some time with the Everyday Struggle crew before Ctrl drops, and we learned a good deal about her during the free-flowing conversation. Here's what we took away from our interview with her, and you can watch the full episode above.
SZA is ready to come out of her shell
During the formative stage of her career, SZA self-admitted she was shy, which is not the most common trait in people who perform for a living. But after earning reps in the industry and coming into her own as an artist, it seems like the old, shy SZA is going to be a thing of the past.
"I was editing myself," she said of her past reservations. "But now I've given up on that."
SZA doesn't like to write for other artists
A lot of singers below the mega-star level make a ton of their money writing and producing for other artists. Get a songwriting credit on a hit song, and you're set to rake in the royalty checks for the foreseeable future.
But SZA admitted she's not totally comfortable writing music for anyone else, even if it's in her repertoire. "I don't like to," she said. "I can't write someone else's truth. I've just started writing, I've only written for like Rihanna and Beyonce."
SZA thinks the industry is too concerned with branding
Getting labeled a certain type of artist is increasingly useless in 2017, with hip-hop giants routinely crossing over into singing and R&B. SZA finds branding yourself in a particular way—as an artist or just in general—is way too big of a focus.
"We know a lot of Americans that are only brands. I only know what connects with people. I just have to be me," she said. "Am I art? Am I branding myself? That's too much—I'd rather focus on the details."
"Ctrl" is about the illusion of control
If you were wondering what the new album's focus would be, SZA elaborated on the title, telling Everyday Struggle what the meaning is behind the name.
"It's about analog and being at a time where we were brought information more slowly," she said. "Control is a concept, you think about getting away from analog, control is an illusion, you try and force it."
SZA believes artists have to focus on themselves
As she prepares to drop her debut album, SZA talked a lot about the creative process behind Ctrl. Though she claims you don't throw away all the musical inspiration that brought you here, she realized at a certain point an artist's work has to come predominantly from within.
"When you first make an album, you only have your favorite albums from your favorite artists," she said. "And you don't come close to touching them. How do I satisfy myself sonically?"