The Top Dawg Entertainment boss, who signed the artist in 2013, made the comments on the Rap Radar podcast with Elliott Wilson and Brian “B.Dot” Miller. At one point during the sit-down, Wilson referenced past incidents in which SZA expressed her frustrations with industry and the effect it had on her mental health.
“Now with all the attention and this newfound growth, how do you think she’s adjusting to it?” he asked Punch.
“I think she adjusting a lot better now,” he responded at the 15:40 mark above. “I think it’s finally starting to set in as to what’s going on and who she is. Like, for the longest, I don’t feel she connected who SZA is to Solána. But I think now, she’s starting to see it, to understand.”
Punch said the current SOS arena tour is playing a big part in SZA’s growth, as she’s able to see the effect she has on fans. “You’re actually seeing these live people, and you’re seeing them respond to you, and that energy exchange,” he continued. “So she’s handling it a way lot better now.”
SZA continues to ride the success of her December 2022 sophomore album, which spent 10 non-consecutive weeks atop the Billboard 200 chart. The project, which served as the follow-up to 2017’s CTRL, was widely praised for its fusion of genres, including R&B, jazz, and gospel. Rap-heavy performances on tracks like “Smokin’ on My Ex Pack,” “Blind,” “Low,” opener “SOS,” and ODB-featuring closer “Forgiveless” generated as much buzz as anything on the adventurous LP.
Punch told the hosts SZA has always had bars and pushed herself for SOS.
“She’s always bended the genre, so it wasn’t nothing new, it was just going, pushing it further. Like she doing full rap records now. … That’s all her, yeah, 100 percent,” he said around the 5:40 mark. “She got like maybe—she got like a EP’s worth of full rap records, like all the way out, no singing.”
It’s unclear if the TDE president was hinting at new music or simply highlighting the amount of rapping on SOS. Regardless, fans are hoping to hear more SZA bars, perhaps on the album’s much-anticipated deluxe version, which will include 10 new cuts.
The artist told Billboard the expanded version will arrive “soon.”
“After I do the deluxe, I’m hoping to be able to accept that this chapter is done,” SZA told the magazine. “I’m looking forward to actually feeling proud of myself and not just smiling and nodding at accolades but really feeling it internally and knowing that I’m good enough.”
You can check out Punch’s full Rap Radar interview up top, where he also crowns SZA the current “queen of New York,” says she’s the only artist he ever personally signed, and confirms Jay Rock is finishing his fourth album “right now, as we speak.”