SZA has maintained her prominence after breaking through to a wider audience with her 2017 debut album Ctrl while building anticipation for her upcoming follow-up album. When "Good Days" and "I Hate U" were released during the epidemic and both songs went on to become her first solo top 10 successes on the Billboard Hot 100, it appeared as though she was hinting at the album's impending release.
Five years after the debut of Ctrl, SZA has now released her much awaited sophomore album, SOS, to close off 2022 and continue building on her incredibly strong foundation. The 23-track SOS puts all concerns about a sophomore slump to rest, thus it appears that the lengthy wait was worthwhile.
SZA expressed her irritation with the "red tape" and bureaucracy involved in releasing music while signed to a major label in a November interview with Billboard in which she verified that her album would actually be released in December. "I detest the word 'single.' It's like, 'What the f*** distinguishes a single from other s*** on my album that I enjoy? Why does it need to be unique? '" she griped. She says, "I just do what I want to do," which for her entails connecting with followers directly rather than through a distribution platform.
Compared to Ctrl, SOS is a far larger compilation, and instead of getting lost in the range of sounds, SZA shows an even greater knowledge of music than on her debut album. While SZA bares her soul on songs like "Gone Girl" and the stripped-down guitar ballad "Nobody Gets Me," Ctrl's modern R&B is reminiscent of tracks like "Low" and "Conceited" and "Conceited," which are both from her album. On "Smoking on my Ex Pack," she even raps, while on "F2F," she sings over loud guitars and percussion reminiscent of 2000s rock bands. Singer Phoebe Bridgers make a cameo on the track 'Ghost in the Machine," while SZA even integrated words from the late Ol' Dirty Bastard on closing track "Forgiveless."
SZA contemplated broadening her horizons on and off the stage in her pre-release Billboard interview. She was honest and remarked, "Any opportunities that would get me to try something new, I will surely attempt." "At this point, I can show myself that I can choreograph, construct a stage, have a theme, and be anyone I want — I don't just have to be Miss Natural Raw Energy," the contestant said.
“I want to design myself the way I can be.”