For fans of R&B, TDE artists and, most importantly, SZA, the lengthy wait for her next studio album has been a treacherous one. But, as the follow-up to her beloved, classic 2017 masterpiece Ctrl looms, 2022 has given quite a few signs of optimism for Solána’s fans.
Most notably, a verse given to her label-mate Doechii for the “Persuasive” remix and a much celebrated five-year anniversary deluxe for Ctrl in June continued to tide listeners over as they continued the seemingly-endless wait for her next project. But on Oct. 3, months after her “SZA Summer” declaration that evidently fell a bit flat, a new cover story with Complex gave insight on what we can expect from the forthcoming LP and when we can expect it to arrive.
In all fairness, SZA explicitly stated at the start of this conversation that she did not want to discuss the album in depth because of the anxiety is causes for her, but that did not stop some of her confidants from divulging some exciting information.
Firstly, TDE president Punch gave a wonderfully mystical description of the project, as well as providing a far too vague answer for when its release date would be. Along with describing the currently untitled work as “somebody who’s lost and then discovered themselves,” he assured that it would drop “very soon.”
Additional statements he made in the interview could perhaps verify this claim, especially when he referenced the TikTok viral unreleased song “Shirt,” as its months-long virality has led to SZA confirming that she added Doja Cat as its special guest. However, Punch explained that due to the tight timeline they are following in order to release the album, the original version of “Shirt” without the Doja feature will likely be on the album and a remix would have to be put out afterwards.
Along with Punch, SZA has been in close contact with TV producer-writer-director Sam Levinson while putting together the album. Levinson, who is most notably the creator of hit drama Euphoria, has been able to hear portions of the album because SZA thinks “he’s neat as a person and a cool thinker.”
“I’ve heard tracks from her that are so rich, so gorgeous it takes your breath away,” Levinson said.
Aside from consultants like Punch and Levinson, Complex also spoke with some of SZA’s producers that have been working on the album, such as Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins and Carter Lang. Jerkins is mostly responsible for crafting “Shirt,” as SZA explained that she wanted to work with him because she admired the music he made with early 2000s stars like Brandy and Amerie.
“That was always my dream to work with him based on his work with Brandy and Amerie,” she said. “We did like seven records in one day.”
As for Lang, who helped produce a whopping eight songs on Ctrl, he defined this stage in the album process as the “refining stage,” adding that they are now going back and altering songs they’ve already made for the track list.
“It’s just like cleaning your room,” he said. “You see a thing and you’re like, ‘You know what? I didn’t even realize that was there because there was all this sh*t over it before.”
Even though SZA aimed to stray away from album talk, she did speak briefly on her motivations during the creation process. While asserting that she refuses to be boxed in, she does not want to overcomplicate her songwriting process and that she does not set deadlines for herself, SZA lets it be known that this era she is about to unveil will be her best yet, in every aspect.
“With this album, I just wanna be better than my last project to myself,” she said. “I wanna be a better writer. I wanna be a better artist, musician… a better thinker. I just wanna do things that make myself proud and interested.”
Read Complex’s entire interview with SZA below!