With her unique fusion of R&B, neo-soul, and hip-hop, Solána Imani Rowe, better known by her stage name, SZA, has steadily emerged as one of the defining voices of her generation. Sza’s artistry transcends everyday lyrics and melodies; she crafts each of her songs as a letter to the self, tracing the contours of love, loss, and identity. With significant albums like ‘Z’, ‘Ctrl’, ‘Ctrl (Deluxe)’, and surprising features on projects like ‘Black Panther The Album Music From And Inspired By,’ or even on soundtracks such as ‘Dear Evan Hansen (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)’, she continues to push the boundaries of her music, establishing herself as a force to reckon in the industry.
Her debut album ‘Ctrl’ was a breakthrough project that captured the angst and confusion of growing up in the digital age, while her follow-up project ‘Ctrl (Deluxe)’ only deepened her introspective reach. ‘Z’ showcased her experimental approach to blending genres into a distinct sound. And her contribution to the ‘Black Panther’ soundtrack allowed her to explore the boundaries of hip-hop even further. However, it wouldn’t be fair to overlook her major role in the ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ soundtrack, demonstrating her versatility as an artist.
SZA’s daring artistry, her fluidity across different musical genres, and her illuminating lyrics, mark her as a revolutionary force in today’s music scene. From hypnotizing beats, to the unflinching honesty woven into the fabric of her lyricism, SZA’s work embodies the spirit of hip-hop – an unapologetic exhibit of raw truth and fervent emotion. So let’s get into it. From ‘Dear Evan Hansen (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)’ to ‘Ctrl (Deluxe)’, here are the SZA Album’s ranked.
5. Z ( 2014 )
“Z” (2014) The infamous “Z” blew up the sound waves on April 8, 2014. Straight outta Top Dawg Entertainment, SZA, aka Solána Imani Rowe, proved she’s not just any R&B diva with this debut studio album. The record’s draped in a dreamy, ethereal aura, breaking the traditional mold of hip-hop and paving a unique path for future femmes in the genre. The joint is dripping with experimentations in trip-hop, neo-soul, and chillwave, leaving listeners dazed in the best possible way. Featuring collabs with Chance the Rapper on “Child’s Play” and Kendrick Lamar on “Babylon”, “Z” ain’t playing. The album exhibits SZA’s raw lyrical skill, injecting her tracks with soul-deep introspection and insight. Symbolizing Generation Z’s break from societal norms, “Z” secured the 39th spot on Billboard 200, announcing SZA’s arrival on the hip-hop scene like a comet. Unorthodox, bold, and authentic – “Z” set the tone for SZA’s journey in the hip-hop realm.
3. Black Panther The Album Music From And Inspired By ( 2018 )
SZA, homegrown talent of TDE, took center stage on “All the Stars,” a tune that drips with celestial imagery and metaphysical vibes. This joint didn’t just make waves; it caused tsunamis, peaking at the seventh spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Mixing the trap-heavy thump of Southern hip-hop and moody R&B, the track showcased SZA’s distinctive aesthetic and lyrical prowess. While “Black Panther The Album Music From And Inspired By” wasn’t SZA’s solo project, her vocal versatility played a pivotal role in drawing the panoramic soundscape that made it a totem of intercultural unity in the hip-hop universe.
2. Ctrl ( 2017 )
This sophomore album grooves to its own rhythm, fiercely defying genre confinement and conformities. From its thought-provoking opener “Supermodel” to the audacious closer “20 Something”, “Ctrl” is a chronicle of self-love, vulnerability, and the sometimes chaotic dance between the two. The album cast a wide net of collabs – Travis Scott’s energetic flow on “Love Galore”, James Fauntleroy’s soulful crooning on “Wavy (Interlude)”, and the lyrical brilliance of Kendrick Lamar on “Doves In The Wind”. Each track paints vividly the struggles and triumphs of a woman navigating her world. The record made waves, peaking at number 3 on the Billboard 200 chart and snagging four Grammy nominations. “Ctrl” is a testament to SZA’s growth – a fearless exploration of being ‘in control’ and the paradoxes that come with it.
1. SOS ( 2022 )
SZA’s “SOS” has been widely acclaimed as a triumphant return after a five-year hiatus, following her debut album “Ctrl”. It’s a sprawling, superb collection of 23 songs that explore a range of emotions, from love and lust to vengeance and satisfaction. Critics have praised the album for its paradoxical nature, combining sad themes with performances that avoid overwhelming moroseness. SZA’s confidence and raw emotion shine throughout, making it even more riveting than her acclaimed debut.
The album’s storytelling resonates deeply, as SZA navigates through anger, frustration, and heartbreak, allowing listeners to connect intimately with her experiences. Musically, “SOS” transcends genres, moving beyond alternative R&B to include collaborations with diverse artists, demonstrating SZA’s versatility. This genre-bending approach, coupled with its introspective and vulnerable content, has drawn comparisons to Lauryn Hill’s influential work.