As I get older, my understanding of the various inequalities of my world has been painfully augmented. Really, having a younger sister growing up helped me to understand the plight of the ‘fairer’ sex in the politics of the world. Trust me, I should know; I studied this shit in college.
In the politics of music, being a musician, it is hard to argue that women carry the heavier burden. The media scrutinizes with a gender bias and often pits women against each other to drum up publicity or simply delegitimize female artists.
Case and Point, SZA’s interview with the Breakfast Club. The near hour-long interview is hilarious because the artist and woman within SZA comes to light – and sound – spectacularly. She discusses her flaws, insecurities and anecdotal adventures that bleed into the album. The parlay between her and the three DJs was brilliant and amicable albeit problematic. A lot of the questions thrown at SZA, mostly by Charlemagne tha God were tacit to an assault on the divinity that is SZA. Questions about her sex life and former partners were thrown haphazardly, as is the modus operandi of Charlemagne and even the content of her music was questioned as if she needed permission to be the person she is today.
But maybe I’m overreacting. This should simply be a review of ‘CRTL’ which is spectacular. From the jump, the Pharrell Williams produced Supermodel induces an atmosphere of guitar-filled funk that bleeds into the melancholy of the rest of songs on CRTL. Notables in this respect are “Broken Clocks”, and a personal anthem of mine “20 Something” discuss a general existentialism while “The Weekend”, “Normal Girl” and “Drew Barrymore” tackle more nuanced themes such as body issues and polyamory from the forgotten perspective of a woman.
“I belong to nobody, ho, it don’t bother you, you can’t mind your business…” sings SZA in the electric “Go Gina” quite characteristic of a certain confident voice that seeps through the melancholy on her latest work. To be sure, this are plenty of “banging” moments on CRTL. SZA’s sexy, sometimes deep register can match the party energy of a Kendrick or Isaiah Rashad, any day – male lablemates of hers at Top Dawg Entertainment.
Which return me to earlier lamentations on behalf of Queen SZA. I feel she is owed a degree of acclaim yet to rival that of Kendrick Lamar or even Schoolboy Q and that’s because she is a woman. The music industry is rarely polite so I won’t be either. TDE has stumbled in her management as evident in the delays and the public outcry from the artist herself. Certainly, age-mate Isaiah Rashad, who was signed at the same time, had difficulties but for the most part, it seemed copacetic in the end between him and Top Dawg Entertainment where in SZA’s case, there is certainly a rift.
If you look at the label roster, it is easy to see why. It is a male dominated field and ordinarily, it would be easier to just move on. For SZA, not just the artist but the woman, there needs to be a change in the politics around her. CRTL was amazing. On her next project, I expect to hear more female contemporaries collaborating perhaps Kehlani, who tweeted support, or the British export Little Simz. Lord knows, TDE could use more of this feminine touch.