It’s SZA’s birthday, but her fans just got a gift.
The newly 33-year-old singer/songwriter posted a video on YouTube simply titled “PSA (Official Teaser)” without additional context. On social media SZA wrote, “Happy birthday to me. Clock starts now.”
The arresting, Bradley J. Calder-directed clip features SZA smoldering in a ring of green fire and having some bioluminescent fun on a beach at night. In an electric excerpt of new music she sings, “I don’t want nobody calling me anything but number one/Know I got problems, I don’t know how to take losses/Even when, even when they are lost causes.” She also ensures she’s “pissin’ you off just to get off” and singles out people “acting like bottom feeders, y’all suckin’ dick by the liter.”
Keeping things alphabetical, the CTRL artist ends the “PSA” teaser with the Morse code for “SOS,” three letters also incorporated into her recent “Shirt” video. It’s now in her IG bio as well:
“PSA” or “SOS” could definitely be the name of an impending project or single, but as Stereogum’s Rachel Brodsky notes, “At the same time, the ‘Shirt’ video also had references to ‘NO CTRL’ (maybe another possible album title?) and ‘DEC’ (maybe the album release month?).”
In Complex’s October cover story, Aria Hughes wound up asking SZA “about the one thing she doesn’t want to speak about: her new album.” Here’s what she had to say:
“I don’t even know what this album is about and what it sounds like. Which is why I had to go to the mode of what feels good to my brain and to my energy and the songs that I think are hot, I just have to go with them. I have no idea what it sounds like to anybody else. I really don’t know. It’s so bizarre. It’s weird that I can’t put my finger on it. It’s a little bit of everything. It’s a little aggressive. Some parts are incredibly soft. Some of them are ballads. I don’t know. It’s all over the place. It’s just where my heart is.”
The feature also included the likes of TDE president Punch, producer Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, and Sam Levinson hyping up her new work.
CTRL celebrated its fifth anniversary in June, marked by a deluxe edition with 20 minutes of previously unreleased material including the tracks “2AM” and “Tread Carefully,” plus an alternate version of her Travis Scott collab “Love Galore.”
Solo offerings since the album have included 2020’s “Good Days,” last year’s “I Hate U,” and last month’s “Shirt,” while she’s delivered memorable features for Summer Walker (“No Love”), Doja Cat (“Kiss Me More”), DJ Khaled (“Beautiful,” “Just Us”), Megan Thee Stallion (“Freaky Girls”), and more.