Headphones: SZA’s Genuine Journey Toward CTRL

Whether we're falling into it, falling out of it, confused by it, upset over it; love is taking up a fraction of our minds constantly -- a fraction of everyone's minds. SZA's new album CTRL, will bring out all of these emotions brought on by love. It's comforting to hear one's own struggles sung by SZA's angelic voice over glorious hip-hop beats. Get some perspective on self CTRL with SZA's compelling new record.  Coldplay also swims around the idea of love, and loosing it in their new single, 'All I Can Think About Is You.' Who isn't happy to hear something new from Coldplay? Finally, enjoy visionary Travis Scott's new music video to 'Birds in the Trap.'   

Album of the Week: Ctrl – SZA: The wait is over, SZA has released her most powerful album yet. Ctrl starts on a really strong note with ‘Supermodel.’ Here, SZA is beautifully honest, going back and forth between needing this person’s love and being her own love. One or some of the 10 talented producers who worked on Ctrl made a fantastic beat under her strong, hoarse voice that carries gracefully throughout the entire album.

The next track features Travis Scott and exposes SZA’s ability to rap sharply with her incredible vocals. SZA singing “love,” during the chorus sounds really simple yet unique. Scott’s sound in ‘Love Galore,’ supports SZA’s presence perfectly.

An uncensored conversation between Kendrick Lamar and SZA takes place on ‘Doves In the Wind.’ The two talented artists talk ‘pussy’ and intimacy; with Lamar beginning his verse by stating, “Niggas'll lose they mind for it / Wine for it, dine for it (pussy) / Spend time for it, see no colored line for it (pussy) / Double back handicap and go blind for it (pussy).”  In another vibey-sexy track called ‘The Weekend,’ SZA reminds me of Khelani, with more complexities in her voice.

SZA is so obviously talented, but more importantly, brutally honest. The 26-year-old holds absolutely nothing back in terms of delivery and precision. SZA has written the rawest of lyrics as a female artist, calling herself desperate and singing about very specific instances in her own love life. My favorite demonstration of this is in the final track titled "20 Something." SZA sings what will become an anthem to women in their 20s facing the same uncertainties, “Prayin' the 20 somethings don't kill me, don't kill me.”

Almost every track ends with an intriguing outro or interlude. A strong beat is paired with SZA’s uncanny words concerning insecurity and jealousy in "Garden (Say It Like Dat)." SZA delves into the vulnerability she faces with being hung-up on a mystery man. One of her strongest songs vocally is "Normal Girl," where she sings meaningful, personal words about wanting to be a “normal girl” over a wondrous and enchanting beat. The tune features the electric guitar alike the role the guitar plays in the first track, ‘Supermodel.’ It is now vividly clear why SZA takes the spot as Top Dog Entertainment’s only female artist. She is impressively creative, talented and honest.

Single of the Week: All I Can Think About Is You – Coldplay: Coldplay is one of the great groups that is so very consistent. Ever listen to Coldplay and not particularly enjoy one of the songs? Didn’t think so. Their new single is tranquil, pensive, patient and just like most of their songs, sounds like a magical, emotional and spiritual journey.

This is the first track dropped from their upcoming album release on July 14. The song is touching and romantic with relatable lyrics of drowning in love’s riptide; “Troubles on the outside / All I can think about is you.” Similar to their usual style of song, the slow piano and guitar build into a loud uproar of hopeful sound. It all ends with Chris Martin saying that “love is the only thing left that’s true.”

 Music Videos

Birds in the Trap – Travis Scott: We all know Scott as an artist with way more to offer than just his music. The guy has taste, talent and quite the creative edge on other rappers. Travis’s new 14-minute short film for ‘Birds in the Trap,’ will definitely prove it so. The video takes you through a rather interesting and unusual day had by Scott himself. In the beginning of the short film, He gets into a miniscule verbal dispute with a homeless man crossing the street in front of him. The video continues to an intense car crash leaving Scott in critical condition. “I can hear within the silence and see within the nothingness…” The video depicts a complicated story shifting through the past, present and future, ending in a confusing manner that appears as an alternative reality. Travis refers to dying as “time to live.” The intricate film features the woman who died in the car crash, almost being taken into a presumed heaven or afterlife with a white sheet, and again dead in the car she died in. The ‘Birds in the Trap,’ video produced by Division and directed by Fleur Fortune is one of great complexity and requires much interpretation.

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