Review: New twist to Top Dawg Entertainment gratifies
When I first heard that SZA had signed to Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE), I was puzzled.
Why would a record label, full of hardcore West coast rappers, sign a Lana Del Rey- like singer?
Then I listened to her debut album, Z, and all my questions were answered.
Solona Rowe, who goes by SZA, showcases her range and versatility throughout Z. Songs like “Childs Play” and “Babylon,” are slow and somber, and those seem to be where she is most comfortable. Others, such as “HiiiJack” and “Julia,” highlight more uptempo beats that she sings with ease. As a whole, the album flows seamlessly from start to finish.
Three of the album’s 10 tracks have featured artists and the rest emphasize SZA’s beautifully haunting vocals. The three songs with features reveal why SZA signed with TDE.
The first song, “Childs Play,” features Chance the Rapper. The song begins with SZA singing about Barbie Dolls, Nintendo 64 games and Shakespeare. Then, Chance takes over the second verse. He and SZA finish off the song together, both singing the hook a few time before the beat fades out. Chance’s odd delivery, squeaky voice and clever wordplay, mixed with SZA’s crooning voice creates a harmonious sound.
“Babylon” is the last track with a guest artist. SZA features the one person in music who can currently do no wrong, Kendrick Lamar.
On “Babylon” SZA begins with the stirring lyrics, “Crucify me.” She then changes the tone subtly, reminiscing on her childhood. Toward the end of her verse, she circles back to the original tone of the song, as she examines both sides of her deteriorating relationship with a lover. At first, the pairing of SZA with TDE seemed like a lose-lose situation, for both SZA’s promising career and for TDE in a business sense.
However, SZA is such a well-rounded artist that she will be able to draw attention to herself, even on songs with the likes of Kendrick Lamar.
The views expressed in this column are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of The Wooster Blade as a whole.