Updated: May 1
A Lookbook on SZA's CTRL album
SZA illustrates the everyday life of young Black women within their "20 Something" stage. With songs such as Supermodel, Normal Girl, The Weekend, and others, SZA depicts how these women are navigating relationships, insecurities, and societal expectations with her own life events. She has described Ctrl being "a concept. I’ve lacked control my whole life and I think I’ve craved it my whole life." Therefore, this album is used to understand and process the mind of young, Black women in their journey at having control during their period of self-exploration within the world.
SZA focuses on insecurities and low self-esteem regarding relationships. "Drew Barrymore" is used as an illustration of insecurity and identity based on films such as Never Been Kissed and Poison Ivy. She explains that her loneliness can often cause her to forget her worth while apologizing for not "being up to par" for her partner. With a combination of insecurities, low self-esteem, and loneliness, SZA expresses her desire for her partner in order to fill the void within herself.
Like the previous song, Drew Barrymore, SZA opens up again about her insecurities tied into a previous relationship. Yet, instead of allowing her low self-esteem to cause co-dependence, she expresses her dominance. Between keeping her old partner's items and hooking up with one of his best friends, she explains that she can be a supermodel for her partner if he would take the time to see it in her. Though her confidence shines through, she still expresses that she hasn't gotten to a place of comfortability with being alone and needs her partner around.
Doves in the Wind
Along with fellow TDE artist, Kendrick Lamar, SZA utilizes this song to express the intimacy of relationships beyond the concept of sex. Within SZA's verse, she asserts that people truly in relationships with substance deserve more than the simple act of sexual interaction. Meanwhile, Lamar focuses on the fact that men go out of their way and overcompensate just to have sex. Their dual commentary regarding sex explains the typical gender dynamic with young relationships.
Along with Travis Scott, SZA again touches on her navigating past relationships and their effects. She begins to explain that she no longer want to pursue relationships, yet she found herself being involved with an old lover. Once she finds herself in this position, she reflects on her feelings of regret because of her lack of control. She allowed herself to be a position in which this partner had their own relationship someone else while reaping the benefits of still involved with SZA.
This song focuses on "situationships" between multiple women and one man. SZA explains that between the three woman in the song there is one in particular that is completely content with the fact that this man is not faithful. This woman displays her control by setting her boundaries in which she only sees this man on her time. She explains that her days are the weekend, while the other ladies have him for the weekdays.
Garden (Say It Like Dat)
Within Garden, SZA opens up about needing validation, emotional support, and caring within a relationship. She explains in an interview that she wrote this song as one of the older versions of herself in order to better understand herself now. With her new perspective, she can understand how her self-doubt enabled her to become dependent on constant validation from her partner. She hopes that her partner does not learn about her "true" self because he will not love her, yet that is her own insecurities projecting into this current relationship.
SZA illustrates her struggle of balance between her love and work life. She expresses her lack of time to invest herself healthily, and concluded that her love life is negatively affecting her job. Due to this, she decided to break away from her relationship in order to devote her time to bettering her current circumstances. She establishes a sense of control by removing herself from the relationship and taking her time to make the next day better than the last.
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