Add SZA to the list of ‘most anticipated albums of 2021.’ As fans wait for her follow-up to ‘Ctrl,’ here’s what we know about SZA’s sophomore album.
It’s been a minute since SZA blew up with her debut, 2017’s Ctrl. So, when she dropped “Hit Different” with Ty Dolla $ign, in February 2020, it was met with rabid excitement. Were we finally going to get a new album? Unfortunately, no. The year finished with no album, but she did close out 2020 by releasing “Good Days,” a song that only left fans wanting that second album even more.
Ctrl – which spawned her hits “Love Galore” (featuring Travis Scott) and “The Weekend” (which got the Calvin Harris remix treatment) – helped the New Jersey native break through to experience her first taste of mainstream success. Since then, however, fans have gone hungry and have been starving for new music from SZA. With 2021, fans expect – or, more accurately, feverishly hope – that the woman born Solána Imani Rowe will finally release her second album.
What’s the hold-up? In 2020, SZA tweeted, “At this point, y’all gotta ask Punch,” referencing rapper Punch, the head of her label, Top Dawg Entertainment (per Vulture.) The now-deleted tweet indicated that her delays were due to red tape, and this comment directed fans towards his social media accounts. When one fan asked Punch about releasing new SZA music, he replied, “soon.” “This is all he says to me as well,” SZA tweeted in response. “Welcome to my f-cking life.” She also said that her relationship with TDE had “BEEN hostile.” It should be noted that TDE is also the home of Kendrick Lamar, another artist whose fans have been patiently waiting in regards to new music.
Here’s what we know so far.
When Will SZA’s New Album Be Released?
As of July 2021, there is no release date for SZA’s new album.
“New music is literally on the way. I haven’t slept. I’m coming directly from the studio right now,” SZA said during a Feb. 17, 2021 appearance on CBS This Morning, per Complex. “It’s like, I think, 5 a.m. I left the studio at, like, 3:30. So music is on the way.” Five months later, the album hadn’t been released, and SZA was joking that she would go back to the drawing board.
While hosting a livestreamed event called IN BLOOM (in collaboration with Grey Goose), SZA did stream a snippet of “Shirt,” a new song. “I feel like IN BLOOM really captures where I’m at right now, especially after a year and a half of lockdown, which is also why it feels like the best place to debut some of my new material,” she said in a statement before the event. “I’m so excited for my fans to see this performance.”
However, when speaking with WWD, Sza made a half-jokingly comment about her highly-anticipated album: “I’m actually probably about to scrap all of it and start from scratch,” she said. Later, she added, “I’m literally not talking about my album anymore until it’s out in the world. At this point, I’m gonna start jinxing it, and I don’t want to jinx anything.”
What Is SZA’s New Album Called?
As of July 2021, SZA has not released the name of her new album.
It’s possible that SZA might release an EP as a precursor to the album and that EP might bear the title A. In 2013, she released an EP titled S, and a follow-up, Z, arrived in 2014. Ctrl arrived in 2017, meaning that the S-Z-A EP trilogy remains unfinished. While fans would be grateful for any music from SZA, there is a possibility they may get not just one but two major releases in the future.
What’s SZA’s New Record Going To Sound Like?
“I think they’ll be surprised to know that it’s not what they thought, and it’s not coming when they thought,” she said to WWD about her album. “I hope that they’ll be pleasantly surprised.”
I’m different, so how could [my music] not be different?” she told PopSugar in May 2021. “So much of me is in my music, it’s literally verbatim whatever’s on my mind, and I see the world way differently than I did [before]… Labeling is so dead and so done, and it really does everybody a disservice.”
“I think R&B was used as a way to pigeonhole Black music and Black artists who sing their feelings in a very highly emotive and rhythmic way at the same time,” she said to Pop Sugar before relating how she was just told that she “wasn’t being R&B enough” for a project she was working on. “[It’s] like, you want me to sound how you think Black women should sound based on past music. I consider myself to be singing the blues with rhythm or just singing how I f*cking feel, period.”
The album will “start fresh, putting into perspective my sound and confidence,” she told PEOPLE in June 2021. “This is who I am as an artist.” In that same interview, she clarified comments she made in a 2018 interview with Flaunt where she indicated her sophomore album would be her last (“I’m making the best album of my life for this next album, and I know that… because it’s going to be my last album.”)
“I don’t know what ever happened with that interview, I never said that,” SZA told PEOPLE. “But this is my last album, by contract. All my contracts are done after this. So I could even decide to be a farmer or keep making music.”
Who Will Feature On SZA’s New Album?
“So yesterday I was in the studio with Justin Timberlake, and that was kind of nuts. We made a really cool song, and I couldn’t believe it,” SZA revealed during a 2019 interview with Kerwin Frost. “We’re on the same label I heard, which I didn’t know until yesterday. And he was like, ‘I wanna work with you, and I was like, ‘Why?’ And he was like, ‘Shut up, let’s just make stuff.’ And we did, and it was really great.” She also said that Jack Antonoff and BROCKHAMPTON were also present during that session, leading some to speculate that they would also be a part of SZA’s new album. She also said she worked on a Post Malone track, so there’s a chance that Posty might pop up on her album.
SZA also said at the time that she doesn’t feel the “sophomore slump” kicking in and that she’s still having fun making music. “I was dancing around that in my brain. I was like, do I care? Everybody I f-ck with, and respect never had an issue on sophomore albums. People who make real music, no bullshit, have never struggled with a sophomore album. It is a little bit to dance in your brain like what do people want from me? And then you just gotta make shit that feels good.”
One name that might pop up in SZA’s new album is Doja Cat. SZA joined Doja for “Kiss Me More,” a single from Doja’s Planet Her (which, as of July 2021, has reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has already been certified Gold.) One could assume Doja might return the favor by appearing on SZA’s next project.
What Songs Are Going To Be On SZA’s New Album?
“Shirt,” the unreleased song she previewed at the IN BLOOM event, will likely be on the record. She shared a snippet of it on TikTok, and the track soon went viral. “I guess the way TikTok works, and probably why it’s so awesome, is you can take any original sound from any place and make it a thing,” she said during that CBS This Morning interview. “So now this song that I wasn’t even 100 percent sure of the placement on my album has centered itself on my album, and I’m in a rush to get it out and ready. Now I shot a video for it, and now it’s ‘Shirt.’”
As of July 2021, SZA has a few free-roaming singles out there. The previously mentioned “Hit Different” and “Good Days” will also likely be on the new album. SZA has also kept busy working on music for soundtracks. She’s appeared on “The Other Side” (Trolls World Tour), “Power Is Power” (Music Inspired By The HBO Series Game Of Thrones), and “Just For Me” (Space Jam: A New Legacy), lending her voice to songs with Justin Timberlake, The Weeknd, and Saint Jhn. However, it’s unlikely these tracks will be included on the new album.
“At this point, I’m gonna start jinxing it, and I don’t want to jinx anything,” said SZA. So, until she releases the new album, the best thing fans can do is stay mum, stay patient, and be ready to smash that pre-save when the announcement drops.