Discovering her talent at the age of 19 after dropping a line over her brothers track one night, a one Solána Rowe, whom we know to be neo-soul/alternative R&B singer-songwriter SZA would find her voice after playback, and realized that she didn’t sound too bad.
SZA was an accident waiting to happen.
Born to a Christian mother and a Muslim father in St. Louis, November 1990, SZA’s founder years were formed in Maplewood, New Jersey (the same neighborhood Lauren Hill grew up), the only black girl in most of her classes and activities of which she associated, she was use to being the token.
Raised in a strict Orthodox Muslim household, the musical sounds of classic rock band the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, LFO and Macy Gray presented on a CD given as a party favor at a bar mitzvah would spark an interest in a young girl who was only allowed to listen to the music that her father enjoyed. The sounds of Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, and Louis Armstrong might have been her introduction – her foundation, but as curiosity killed the cat, there was an inquisitive SZA who would gravitate towards the sounds of a more contemporary rhythm like that of Wu-Tang Clan, Cash Money, and Lil Jon that her half sister would play. She had a destiny that no one in her life saw coming her way.
Following the 9/11 attacks, a hijab wearing Rowe would often get teased in grade school leading her to unveil her tresses amongst other things, the once-aspiring marine biologist later flunked out of college due to getting stoned. But back to that night in the studio though, another aim would develop, leading us to the gem we would soon know as SZA. The name forming from her Supreme Alphabet, an influence from rapper RZA, with the last two letters of her name standing for Zig-zag and Allah, and the first for Sovereign, a quiet star would form. A distinct, seriousness.
“They say my dreaming is hopeless
This is the bed I lie in yeah” – Bed, See.SZA.Run 2012
The Top Dawg Entertainment signee joined Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, and others in 2013 as label-mates, leaving her impression on music. Tethering a relationship with TDE head after meeting in 2011, while honing her skill, SZA focused her newfound talent often in isolation to block out the clouds that choked, releasing her first project See.SZA.Run in 2012; her sound would become something great – unfathomed.
When talent fails you, all you have is skill.
“Wish I was prettier a little for ya
Maybe I’ll understand when I get older
I just don’t get it yet
I’m not finished yet” – Castles, S 2013
Her skill and talent led her to work with the likes of Chance the Rapper, Jill Scott, writing Rihanna’s “Consideration”, Beyonce’s “Feeling Myself” featuring Nicki Minaj, and more; her raspy yet ever soulful tone is reminiscent of Erykah Badu, Lauren Hill and those types. Her lyrics conveying topics of sexuality, nostalgia, and abandonment brings her cuts back up to a boil, almost red, a linger of sweet and pain. The influence she has over her comrades needs no question. She was born to be in this place – this position.
A jewel of sorts, does she not know that she is one of the greats?
Unfamiliar, are you? Pick one, any one song of hers and you are sure to be reminded, subsequently asking to be crucified.
“And I can’t recall the last time I took advice from anyone I’m sure I’ll be the death of me” – Babylon, Z 2014
Eerie talk of quitting, as her genius gets the best of her, she leads us to believe that maybe music isn’t her way as her debut album still awaits. Expected out in November of 2016, there is still no sign of A; SZA tweeted out to a fan back in October “I actually quit,” when inquiring on the date. How wrong can she be of her own purpose, the fire of her music lights up every soul it takes. And although the tweet has since been deleted, here we still are pleading and begging for its release. We thank her pen for what it has accomplished already, her voice for and melodic tongue.
SZA, we are not ready for you to be done.