By Marie O’Connor
“Ctrl,” SZA’s debut studio album, is a lyrical, neo-soul R&B exploration of modern love and romance, dealing with loss as well as exploring her self-worth and self-awareness. Hit single “Drew Barrymore” is a personal lament about feelings of worthlessness. In the song, SZA admits that she struggled to find her worth while feeling lonely, and apologizes for not being “more attractive,” and “more ladylike.” This feeling is echoed in other songs on the album, including “Normal Girl,” “Supermodel,” and “Anything.”
While SZA struggles with low self-esteem, the album also has genius moments that show growth and a kind of self-acceptance that is crucial to healing. “Go Gina,” one of the more upbeat tracks on the album, features SZA appreciating herself for the utter badass she is. She sings, “I belong to nobody/Hope it don't bother you/You can mind your business/I belong to nobody.” The rawest track on the album, “20 Something,” is a confessional comprised of the sadness and pain, but also strength, that makes up the life of a 20-something-year-old black woman.
Not only does “Ctrl” feature many verses from incredible artists like Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, and Isiah Rashad, sound clips of SZA’s mother add a theme of generational support that contributes to the strength shown in this album. Although some tracks do not represent a mindset of growth and healing, the tracks that do help carry this album through as a powerful message of female resilience and self-love.