How SZA Managed to Steal September


RCA Records

For my editorial debut here on Burbs Entertainment, it only seems fitting to share my opinions on the surprise release of “Hit Different” by SZA featuring Ty Dolla $ign. As we approach the one-month anniversary of this provocative track, I would like to take a moment and congratulate Solana on her first (official) song release since her breakthrough album CTRL in 2017. For years, SZA, and the rest of the label for that matter, have been in a dispute with TDE president, Terrence Louis Henderson Jr., aka “Punch”, over the withholding of their unreleased music. SZA, fed up with the manipulation, took to twitter weeks before the release of “Hit Different” to express to fans the disarray happening behind the scenes. In wake of social media backlash against Punch, SZA was cleared to release this single. With imminent fear of what the tensions between SZA’s label and herself will unfold in the process of her new album, fans can relish in the triumphant release of “Hit Different”.


In a cryptic announcement on the eve of September 4th, 2020, SZA took to Instagram to share a visual with no more context than “This is NOT a drill”. Fans worldwide swarmed to the comment section of the illustrious post with speculations of a single, album, and even a short film. Enraged with anticipation, fans prayers were answered at midnight when SZA dropped both the single and official video for “Hit Different”.

GAP

My initial reaction to the release can be summed up in one word: chilling. Outside of my biased perspective as one of SZA’s most devoted fans to-date, this was the general consensus of R&B fans worldwide. Produced by industry legends The Neptunes, “Hit Different” is an introspective take on an open relationship, a topic SZA often visited in her debut album as well. Dissecting her lethal addiction to hardships, SZA takes listeners on a journey of exploration between herself and her partner. Lines like, “Man I get more and love with you each argument” and “You wrong, but I can’t get on without you”, exemplify a certain type of toxicity that resonates with every young woman. SZA continues taking her vocals to new heights, playing with the versatility of her tones between each line; so well in fact, that the final two lines of her second verse have since gone viral on Tik Tok.


Taking to her skills in rhetorical lyricism, SZA invited singer-songwriter, Ty Dolla $ign to take the chorus of her hit single. Much like her and Kendrick Lamar’s 2017 single “Doves in the Wind”, SZA uses her male counterparts to express a backwards attempt at 21st century pop music. Often female vocalists are used in male-dominated songs as background vocalists or designated chorus and pre-chorus singers (i.e.: Take Care by Drake ft. Rihanna, Real by Kendrick Lamar ft. Anna Wise). Flipping the roles presents a sense of female preeminence that is becoming more common in the industry today. Despite SZA’s cunning intuition for poetics, fans came for the St. Louis native for featuring Ty Dolla $ign in the track at all. Many were not happy to hear his vocals reduced to 14 lines of repetition and felt he could have been dropped from the song altogether. Although I am the first person to praise a SZA track devoted to her melodic voice, I have to disagree with the notion that Ty Dolla $ign was not necessary. Not only did his verses take on a symbolic meaning, but being a hard-hitting feature artist, Ty Dolla $ign was neither heightening nor distracting anything from this track. Luckily for fans that feel differently, there have been a million different versions of this song duplicated with the R&B feature’s verses removed.


To supplement the already irresistible track, SZA went a step further to provide a visual expedition which has racked up well over 12 million views since its release. SZA shows off her new slim figure and crisp dance moves across an array of different locations including a junkyard, a barn, and a shimmering finale on a pommel horse. The video, leaving me absolutely starstruck gracefully sexualized the singer to the point where I was sitting inches from my seat and my screen. Balancing out the erotic scenes, were biblical optics of the body, visions of cream, white and cotton, and blood of Christ. With the entire video glued on SZA, it is no surprise to hear that this was her first self-directed music video. In an interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, SZA described her first behind-the-camera experience as “serendipitous”, taking pride in the patience and perspectives of the individuals that helped her bring the video into fruition.

BY PATRICK DEMARCHELIER

Just when you anticipate the video to be over, SZA, again, shocks fans with a 2-minute unreleased outro track. Causing what can only be described as an explosion across the airways, this outro was not released on any streaming services, hinting that it is a part of something larger, likely an album. With comforting hues of brown and rouge, SZA serenades the camera with ease, tranquilizing her viewers unnerving stimulation from the first half of the video. Watching SZA aimlessly tumble along a pommel horse as she softly whispers this precious outro is a visual, I will take with me to my grave. Fans have already taken to posting dupe versions of the outro on all streaming platforms, crowning the song with the mock title “Good Days”. And by the end of my reconnection with SZA, I am left bubbling with excitement and hope for an album that has no projected release date, no snippets, not even a rumor of release. But at the end of the day, isn’t that what keeps us captivated by our favorite artists?

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