Rumor has it that Kendrick Lamar has signed a new female singer to his TDE label imprint. Rumor has it that it’s New Jersey native SZA. Now, we knew absolutely nothing about SZA before last night when the rumors started, so we thought we’d do a little digging before the news went viral (if it indeed is true). So, meet SZA.
Fans of Jhene Aiko, Tinashe, Frank Ocean, and The Weeknd will definitely grow fond of SZA, as she possesses that same alternative, underground, intense R&B vibe that those new school R&B leaders possess. SZA, hailing from New Jersey has a list of very diverse influences that make up her sound.
[quote]”I was raised on a lot of John Coltrane, Satchmo, Miles Davis, Billy Holiday, and Björk with an adult obsession of all things Wu-Tang,” says SZA. ” The one thing I’ve always admired is their ability to paint scenes with their sounds. When I write I usually let the beat saturate my mood and head space; that determines every scene and set design for any song, the rest is all secondary.”[/quote]
Even more interesting than her influences, is her personal story. SZA, who used to go by the name Solana Rowe (her gov’t name maybe?) was raised as an Orthodox Muslim. She lived a very sheltered lifestyle that saw her parents not let her watch MTV or even listen to the radio.
“It alienated me,” she recalls. “It made me weird and uncomfortable, and I had freckles and all these things that made me awkward. I wore a hijab on my head and people would wonder, ‘Are you bald under there? Do you have hair?'”
SZA graduated from an Ivy League university with a major in Marine Biology. But after graduation, she decided to go down a very different path, one her parents definitely would not approve of: bartending at a strip club.
“I was so sheltered my whole life,” she says. “My parents are so nosey and I lived in such a conservative town, so it was easier for me to go find a job that was random. I made a ridiculous amount of money, and no one had to know anything about me. Nobody even knew my real name.”
Solana didn’t even start singing professionally until last year, when her boyfriend convinced her to go to the studio with his best friend. And now, just a year later her debut EP, ‘S’ has been released (in April) and is already garnering major buzz from music blogs like Fader & Stereogum; not to mention Kendrick Lamar himself. It will be followed in the next few month by two more EPs, properly being titled ‘Z’ and ‘A.’ But until then, listen & download S below:
Follow SZA on Twitter @justsza