2017 was an amazing year for hip-hop, pop, and R&B. A few of my favorite releases looking back would have to be 21 Savage, Offset & Metro Boomin’s Without Warning, Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN, Dua Lipa’s Dua Lipa, Demi Lovato’s Tell Me You Love Me, Lil Uzi Vert’s Luv is Rage, Tyler the Creator’s Flower Boy, and Quality Control’s Control the Streets Vol.1.

However, when I think about the album that stuck with me the most, in terms of its catchiness, emotional and social messages, as well as its versatility and dimensions, it would absolutely be CTRL by SZA.

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About a year ago, SZA told Power 106 that the creation and process for developing this album was an obsession of hers. She was working tirelessly and endlessly every day to make it what she wanted. While she was writing and recording each piece, she was using it as a way to figure herself out, because, at just 27, she’s only experienced a handful of years on her own.

The name CTRL stems from SZA’s struggles of people trying to control her actions and what she believes in, as well as trying to control how much pain and emotion she can take in. As she has grown up, she told Power 106, she’s realized that you can’t control what happens to you, what people think of you, and the hardships you’re going to suffer. What you can control after losing so much is the way you react and change your mindset. “Control is a life theme for me,” she says, “I just feel like I’ll always be chasing that feeling between ‘I want so badly to have control’ and ‘calm down. Accept it for what it is.’ It’s a really huge struggle for me, especially with my anxiety.”

The album speaks perfectly to anyone who can relate to SZA’s journey of finding herself through periods of heartbreak, body confidence, insecurity, curiosity, or naivety. Her flowing melodies, raspy voice, bass guitar and a flurry of percussion are the perfect recipe for this beautiful project. The best way to listen to this album is all at once. But if that sounds like a big project to tackle, I’d suggest taking the time to listen to these top 3. They’re sure to become some of your new favorites.

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1. “The Weekend”

The lyrics of this song are controversial, sassy, and provocative. This is the exact song you’ll want to bump with your girls while you’re feeling a little feisty, fired up, and want to jam out.

2. “Drew Barrymore”

This swingy, powerful, multilayered piece shows not only the broad range of SZA’s vocals, but also her deepest feelings of emotional vulnerability as well. At #4 on the album, this song stirs up the conflict she often feels about her confidence and her efforts to reach a warmer place within herself.

3. “20 Something”

This song is extremely relevant to those graduating college soon and feeling scared about the upcoming ten years. SZA expresses her fears about finding love, confidence, and moving into the future as a young woman in her 20s. With the lyrics, “hoping my 20-somethings don’t end, hoping to keep the rest of my friends, hoping my 20-somethings don’t kill me…” she’s sure to bring you to the brink of tears.

COVER PHOTO: thisisrnb.com

Have any other SZA favorites you want to share? Let us know in the comments!

About Ella Swimmer

Ella Swimmer is a senior from Santa Monica, CA. This adventurous Economics major spends her time dancing to hip-hop, practicing yoga, bingeing music and traveling.

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Ella Swimmer is a senior from Santa Monica, CA. This adventurous Economics major spends her time dancing to hip-hop, practicing yoga, bingeing music and traveling.