At last, our distress calls have been answered. SZA finally gifted her sophomore album, SOS, five years after releasing her critically-acclaimed debut, CTRL.
Holding 23 tracks and features from Ol Dirty Bastard, Phoebe Bridgers and Cactus Jack superstars in Travis Scott and Don Toliver — whose upcoming solo albums are set to drop in 2023 — SOS is everything SZA fans have been wishing for since her 2017 full-length effort. With a breadth of sounds and sizzling vocals from the TDE songstress, SOS seems more “Special” than any other project to drop this year.
Earning 318,000 first-week units — quickly achieving RIAA Platinum certification — SZA’s first-ever No. 1 album was also the fifth-biggest debut of 2022. SOS garnered the biggest streaming week ever for an R&B album, and the third-largest of 2022 among all albums, per Billboard. SZA also teased the record’s forthcoming deluxe, which is said to include 10 new tracks.
Of the album’s highlights, Travis Scott’s ad-libs on the trap-influenced “Low” offer a glimpse into his feature on “Open Arms,” which is a simplistic, guitar-led switch-up to Trav’s usual 808-heavy forte. Other banger cuts like “Seek and Destroy,” “Used,” “Too Late,” “Kill Bill,” and the previously-released “Shirt” make way for glistening R&B performances on “Snooze,” “Gone Girl” and “Blind.”
SZA is RAPPING on “Smoking on my Ex Pack,” showcasing her versatility once more with pop-punk guitar refrains on “F2F” and the cinematically-produced “Ghost In The Machine” with Phoebe Bridgers. The album reaches a peak on “Nobody Gets Me,” which is an awe-inspiring barrage of soulful vocals, somber acoustic strings and airy harmonies.
Stemming from how SZA announced SOS’s release on SNL, it feels like a brutally honest yet freeing depiction of her innermost self — embracing her insecurities to work towards being the best version of herself. The cover art further emulates the abyss-like freedom she feels throughout — dangling by the edge of the ocean with a smile on her face. SOS flows so effortlessly from start to finish, not only reasserting SZA’s one-of-a-kind talent, but proves that whether it’s one, five or 15 years, her sound remains timeless.
While “Shirt” had fans in shambles when it dropped in October, it was originally “I Hate U” and “Good Days” that garnered major momentum for SZA’s comeback late last year. Landing on the album’s final cut, SOS has already accumulated 500,000 album units due to the commerical strength of these longtime hits.
Initially surprising with the official teaser for her long-awaited project on her birthday, the “PSA” trailer fully embodied this carefree and triumphant era she’s embarked on. The album was announced as a “birthday gift” on Nov. 8. Weeks later, she officially revealed its release date during her live performance of “Blind” on Saturday Night Live (Dec. 3).
Divulging in an interview with TMZ that she has built a vault of over 100 songs, SZA says she has “five years of material” stashed away. Along with adding a 7-track deluxe to her 2017 album CTRL in June, additional features alongside Future, DJ Khaled and Doechii have primed followers for her triumphant comeback with more music — hopefully — on the way.
Her ability to remain relevant with quality over quantity is unmatched, following the footsteps of legends like Frank Ocean and Playboi Carti, who are notorious for dropping top-tier work after years of silence. With SOS finally in the hands of listeners, it’s apparent that SZA’s sound will never go out of style no matter how much time passes.
Listen to SZA’s ‘SOS’ below!