Graphic by Alana Hackman

SZA’s second album gives a blunt evaluation of all those toxic relationships

SOS to all your exes

by Alana Hackman

Following the release of her 2017 debut album, “CTRL,” SZA has graced us again. Known off-stage as Solána Imani Rowe, the singer recently delivered the juicy 23-track album “SOS.” It includes powerful vocal features from Travis Scott, Phoebe Bridgers, Don Toliver, and even a posthumous sample from Wu Tang Clan’s Ol Dirty Bastard.lmwd

“SOS” is on the search for blood following SZA’s 2017 triple-platinum album “CTRL.”  Now “CTRL Deluxe” with the arrival of seven unreleased tracks this past June 2022, where she delivered a brutally honest 14-track journal entry assessing where she falls short in her relationships due to insecurities. 

 From apologetic melodies about her unshaven legs and lack of attractiveness to her ex in “Drew Barrymore” to longing for her father to be proud of her in “Normal Girl,” SZA has come back for vengeance with “SOS.” 

Throughout the one-hour and eight-minute album, SZA enters an internal feud where she weighs the pros, cons, and desires she longs for within her past and present intimate relationships. Brutally honest once again, SZA doesn’t hold back in her sophomore album. 

The 23 tracks are so personal and well-paced it feels like we’re listening to SZA’s stream of consciousness on a facetime call as her best friend.

SZA approaches all of her tracks from a critical lens of herself and her past partners. She begs plenty of questions listeners have probably asked themselves at some point, which makes the album that much more relatable and enjoyable. 

Does she want a committed relationship? Is she searching for validation and meaning from her romantic partners? Why can’t she seem to end things with her ex? Is she the toxic partner in these relationships? 

SZA explores all of these questions in a straightforward conversational manner throughout the album. SOS spans multiple genres, presenting loyal listeners with a twist on the R&B genre we’ve associated with the St. Louis artist in previous years.

We get a taste of SZA’s rapping abilities in “Smoking on my Ex Pack,” where the singer addresses the rumors and hate her exes have spewed towards her in previous years. The singer also spoils us with the indie-inspired hit “Kill Bill,” detailing her dramatic urge to kill her ex even though she still loves him. 

She openly displays toxic traits in the alt-rock inspired track “F2F,” her vocals in which bear a striking similarity to Hayley Williams’, staged over a Paramore-esque beat. The lyrics dive into her pattern of having sex with other men just cause she misses her ex whom she continues to ignore for her own enjoyment.

The honesty that defines the entirety of “SOS” is what has made it so addicting to returning fans and new listeners. 

SZA doesn’t hide the lack of shame she feels after getting her ‘body done’ in “Conceited.” She candidly sings about her sexual past and how her “pussy precedes” her in “Blind.”

 Anyone who has been stuck in a whirlwind of lackluster situationships, or any intimate relationship that’s short of love and respect outside of the bedroom, can feel connected to SZA’s truthful verses. 

It’s refreshing to see a female artist be so upfront about her sex life and toxic relationship traits. Which may be why she has gained newly devoted followers after “SOS” and kept the loyal fanbase she’s had since the release of “CTRL.”

SZA’s fresh melodies and beats on “SOS” paired with her open honesty have allowed the album to break the Billboard record for the biggest streaming week for an R&B record. The album also is in its fifth week on No. 1 for Billboard’s top 200. 

SZA has brought a relatable and open edge to the R&B table once again and has obviously earned her seat with the big dogs within the genre.

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