It’s amazing how much artistic growth SZA (aka Solana Rowe) has managed to do in such a short period of time. She doesn’t seem new to the music game at all, which is ironic for being Ivy League educated in marine biology. I imagine that this natural musical ability didn’t just manifest out of the blue — it had to have come from somewhere. Regardless of where the secret of her talent lies, Z is the perfect compliment to SZA’s growing catalogue of glitter trap greats. It’s sexy, bass-heavy, melodramatic and soulful. Except this time, there are more indie and electronic sounds added to the mix, not that it’s unfitting or anything. She never seems to do anything the same way twice. And this is a good thing — she keeps you on your toes in an elusive pixieish way.
"Sweet November" has Rowe slipping into the guise of an jazz crooner with a modern twist, giving off an old soul vibe over a Marvin Gaye sample. “Childs Play” takes the infamous XXYYXX “About You” sample and pairs it well with a melancholy verse from the usually hype Chance The Rapper. TDE labelmate Kendrick Lamar makes an appearance on “Babylon”, an eerily sexy track as heavy on bass as it is emotion. Even softer sounding cuts like “Julia” and “Warm Winds” are dripping with soul and suffering, adding to her authenticity. You’ll probably never hear a poppy, sunshine-riddled track from SZA; her music is intentionally haunting and brooding, perfect for angsty creative types (like myself). The electronic and indie influences shows up in “Green Mile”, which sounds like an ingenious mixture of Animal Collective and The Cranberries, with a splash of hip-hop. She’s nothing more than completely honest in all of her work, finding an outlet for years of being sheltered growing up in an Orthodox Muslim home. SZA also isn’t afraid to stray away from traditional song-writing patterns, evident in tracks like “Ur”.
Different seems to work for her; you’re always left wondering what she’ll do next. Z is another instalment of a three part series of EPs, appropriately titled S, Z and A. The second instalment is admittedly darker than its predecessor, but this darkness doesn’t always translate to sadness though. If anything, it’s more of an honest look at relationships, emotions and life in a way people often shy away from for fear of seeming cynical. Call it what you want, but it works beautifully for her.