As an avid music listener, I can honestly say the extent of female vocalists I listen to is rather limited. If its not Sade, Lauryn Hill or Erykah Badu I’m probably listening to a male artist. However, in the past two years my repertoire of female vocalists has multiplied. R&B is changing drastically and the face is looking pretty female to me. A special thank you to; Jorja Smith, Ari Lennox, Syd, NAO, Rayvn Lenae, Jean Deaux, FKA Twigs, and Willow Smith for making music for a girl like me who could never get into Beyoncé or Rihanna.
The first song I ever heard from Solàna was “Sobriety” on SoundCloud in late 2014 and fell in love. Her sultry, angelic, downright beautiful voice is infectious. Earlier that year she realeased “Z”, where her collab with Chance on “Child’s Play” and “Warm Winds” with Isaiah Rashad easily remains in my “Most Played” songs playlist. Not to mention, getting signed to arguably the best and most versatile label in the game solidified her future success in my eyes. So naturally, I highly anticipated “Ctrl”. I admit I should’ve paid closer attention when she dropped “Drew Barrymore”, maybe then I would’ve been better prepared for what she blessed us with on this album.
If ever you were wondering how you could get a chance to peek in on the young 20 something female brain, “Ctrl” is your ticket in. I think it dawned on me maybe around the fourth or fifth listen, who this album was for. Its not for women despite how closely we can relate, ‘”Ctrl” is for men. For men wondering where they went wrong, for men who pretend not to care, for men searching for love and yet not adjusting their behavior, and for men deep in confusion, perplexed by the female mind.
Clean out your ears gentlemen, she is speaking to you.
The album so vividly depicts her growth as a woman but accomplishes this in a way that any man can understand. I think often as women, we get so caught up in ourselves and our emotions, we struggle in finding the words to explain what we’re truly feeling. But this album was created with that conflict in mind and instead of shoving it all on one song, you get to peek into her mind, our minds, stage by stage.
“Supermodel” is the cheat sheet you’d want to read before trying to win over the girl you’re interested in. It’s the prequel to her current state. It’s the reason she’s hesitant to trust you even if you haven’t given her any reason not to. As humans we often forget that though pain subdues with time, it never truly dies and we carry our hurt like scars. So despite the fact that we can be the inquisitive woman on “Love Galore” and the free bird (pun intended) on “Doves In The Wind” we still carry the hurt we experienced on “Supermodel”.
The album feels like an open forum where only men have been invited and us women observe from behind a two-way glass. The problem is we’re frustrated because none of you came equipped with any answers! Listening to SZA say “Why you ain’t say you was getting bored? Why you ain’t say I was falling short?” On “20 Somethings” made me want to scream. For any woman who’s ever been hurt, the number one question we have is “Why?” and not ever getting that answer is the reason our behavior changes, it’s the reason we go from a hopeless romantic to a cautious cynic.
And just when I didn’t think the album could get any better, SZA not only managed to capture the sheer confusion women feel in our relationships with the opposite sex but she did a damn good job capturing the blissful moments. On “Pretty Little Birds” she says “I wanna shave my legs for you”. You know how real that is? That’s all any girl ever wants. She highlights the child like happiness we feel when we really fuck with a guy. When you tell us our booty is getting big and its not. When we support and ride for you cause its what we want to do. This album is giving men a rare glimpse into every aspect of a woman’s love whether it’s a good day or a bad one. And it’s so damn blunt, theres no reason y’all shouldn’t comprehend.
So as the rest of the summer progresses and I take the next few months to continue to digest this album, I suggest you do too. And if you’re a male and you listen to this album and you feel guilty or feel confused…understand that you can do better and be better by simply listening.