By MESFIN FEKADU
NEW YORK (AP) — After SZA created the drums-drenched, reggae-tinged song “Consideration,” she thought she had finally found the sound of her debut album. But there was one problem: Rihanna heard the song and wanted it.
“And I’m just like, ‘It has a video. I shot a video already to it. It’s coming out on Wednesday. That was going to be the first song to prep the album,’” SZA recalled in a recent interview.
Rihanna kept SZA as a featured artist on the track, which opens her critically acclaimed “Anti” album, released last year. And while SZA said recording with the pop star “was a learning experience, it was just dope” — as for her own project? She felt lost. She cried like a baby. She was devastated. She had never given away something she cared so much about.
“I was crying (and thinking), ‘I’ll never make anything better,’” said SZA, now 28. “And Kendrick (Lamar) was like, ‘Well, this is what separates great people. Because great people make better things than that.’”
SZA proved herself to be great — and also proved her earlier prediction wrong.
The songs that make up “Ctrl,” her major-label debut released in June nominated for five Grammy Awards, have resonated with fans around the world, making SZA both a critical darling and a commercial success. The album is at the forefront of the alternative R&B movement, with SZA earning praise for her vocal delivery and direct lyrics that both female and male fans vibe to.
“My favorite game to play at her shows is finding the tough guy, the straight dude who doesn’t want to show no emotion, and as soon as his song comes on, he loses his mind,” said Terrence “Punch” Henderson, the co-president of independent record label Top Dawg Entertainment, home to SZA and Lamar.
“She’s the voice of this generation right now,” he added. “The words she’s saying is honest and raw (and) she’s speaking for these girls and also these guys.”
On some of her songs, SZA fires off her lyrics more like a rapper than a singer — switching topics quickly as she talks about having sex, failed relationships, persevering in life and if being herself is enough.
“I’m so ashamed of myself think I need therapy,” she even sings on “Normal Girl.”
The hit “The Weekend” is about sharing a boyfriend and SZA wonders if her body type is enough for her lover on “Garden (Say It Like Dat).” She asks for “another Valium” on “Love Galore,” where she also sings, “Why you bother me when you know you got a woman?” Smoking weed is peppered throughout the album — and on this particular day, a week after Grammy nominations, joy was in the air, along with the smell of marijuana.
“Ctrl,” which has achieved gold status, has launched two platinum singles with “Love Galore” and “The Weekend.” The project was named the No. 1 album of the year by several critics, including Time, Vice, New York Daily News and The Associated Press; it was ranked No. 2 by the New York Times, NPR, Pitchfork and Billboard.
The success makes SZA the belle of the Grammys — she’s the most nominated female act.
“You know what’s crazy? I feel like you’re never as good as people say you are. And you’re never as bad as people say you are. So, it’s like, you just gotta take it like with a grain of salt. Like, it’s an experience. A responsibility more so. I think it’s like a knock on the head. Like, you have a responsibility, you have a purpose, so it’s like, uh, get to work and focus,” she said.
SZA’s nominations include best new artist and best urban contemporary album for “Ctrl.” Three of her songs also earned nominations — the Travis Scott-assisted “Love Galore” (best rap/sung performance); the fan-favorite “The Weekend” (best R&B performance); and album opener “Supermodel” (best R&B song).
But music didn’t almost happen for SZA, born Solana Rowe in St. Louis but raised in New Jersey.
“I had no idea. I just really wanted to be a scientist or just, like, do something like a gymnast. …Then I wanted to be in fashion marketing. I really wanted an office, badly. Needed an office. Needed a corner. Needed, like, the wood grain. Needed the good view. Needed the long lunch. Like, I needed all that,” she said. “I just wanted to wear power suits. And like, you know, hair slick, skin immaculate. Like, you know, you always crave what’s the hardest for you to attain.”
“So the music thing I just stumbled on, that was not my plan at all,” she added. “I fought this hard. Like, I fought this whole process so hard. I’m even fighting it now. …But it’s getting easier … I’m accepting. I’m accepting where I am. And this is true direction.”
Punch first met the big-haired SZA in 2011 at a Lamar show in New York. SZA was helping sell merchandise but they didn’t have his size. When she arrived in the lobby of Punch’s hotel to bring him clothes, he overheard the music blasting out of headphones of SZA’s friend.
It was SZA’s song.
“SZA got all embarrassed. She wasn’t going to say anything about singing,” said Punch, who co-wrote four songs on “Ctrl” and is nominated alongside the singer for best R&B song. “I heard her voice and her voice was so distinctive, and then I heard what she was actually saying. I’m like, ‘Yo, she is like a lyricist.’”
That song was one of the first SZA recorded. They kept in touch, she let him listen to more songs and he would give her advice. After two years, she asked Punch to manage her.
“We really talked about it seriously and here we are,” he said.
SZA, who recently won two Soul Train Awards and is nominated for four NAACP Image Awards, is now looking ahead to the Grammys. She plans on bringing her grandmother to the event, to be held in New York City on January 28.
“She’s getting her outfit ready,” SZA said of her grandmother, who lives in St. Louis and is heard giving feisty advice and words of encouragement to SZA, along with the singer’s mother, throughout the “Ctrl” album.
“She’s 90, and this is the one time that the Grammys is near my hometown,” she said. “I’m thankful.”
Ms. Bloody shoes Cardi B 6 months pregnant, but with who baby?
Word on the streets is that Cardi B is pregnant – aproximately six months. I’m sure to some of you it’s no surprise because recently we’ve noticed her covered-up looks in the last month or so. Now, the rumor started during the Super Bowl weekend last month and officially went into overdrive when Cardi accepted her IHeartRadio Music Award in an empire wasist Christian Siriana dress. She may have worn that dress on purpose, to probably show all the other dudes that it may be their baby, but who know’s, it could be offset’s baby?
TMZ reports that Cardi’s baby is due the first week of July, but that won’t stop Cardi from making money moves, of course. She’s still set to perform at Coachella next month and she announced during her IHeartRadio speech Sunday that her first studio album will be dropping in April.
Sources tell TMZ that Cardi is still planning to tour with Bruno Mars come September-no more than two months after she brings a mini Cardi into the world.
Sunday’s Family Guy Will Air Uninterrupted Thanks to PlayStation, the Show’s Sole Sponsor
Sunday’s Family Guy was supposed to be the animated comedy’s first episode in 15 years to air with limited commercial interruptions. Instead, the telecast will contain no ad breaks at all.
PlayStation is the sole sponsor Sunday’s extended episode of the Fox series. Who’s excited? We’ve heard that before and after the episode, Fox will air a 60-second spot, called “Arrow,” to promote God of War, the latest installment in Playstation’s mythology-based franchise.
Because of the PlayStation sponsorship, the Family Guy episode will now air completely uninterrupted for the first time.
PlayStation saw a big audience overlap between Family Guy viewers and action game fans, and Qizilbash noted that Sunday’s episode fell within its “critical” six-week launch window for God of War.
“When we evaluate media partner opportunities, we look at three things: the right audience alignment, the right time—proximity to launch—and strength and reach of our distinguished partners. Family Guy checked all the boxes,” said Qizilbash.
In Sunday’s Family Guy episode, “Send in Stewie, Please,” baby Stewie (voiced by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane) is sent to the office of his school’s child psychologist (voiced by Sir Ian McKellen) after pushing a classmate, and experiences several emotional revelations about himself.
Fox had announced in January that a March episode of Family Guy would air with fewer advertising pods. At the time, the show’s producers told Adweek in January that the idea for the reduced ad load came about because the episode was running long, and Fox decided that limited commercial interruption would be an ideal solution to accommodate its longer run time.
“I will give them credit, because they said, ‘We’re going to find a sponsor,’ and then they said, ‘Even if we don’t, we’re going to air it without interruption,’” said executive producer and co-showrunner Rich Appel.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper reveal SHOCKING information about him and his long-time boyfriend!
It seems like Anderson Cooper’s CNN work caused his longtime boyfriend to leave him without love. On Thursday, Time Magazine said Anderson Cooper confirmed that he and his boyfriend Benjamin Maisani had broken up. Their relation first went public in 2015.
“Benjamin and I seperated as boyfriends some time ago,” Cooper told People. “We are still family to each other, and love eachother very much. We remain best of friends, and will continue to share much of or lives together.”
Now, when the breakup first happened, The Daily Mail first reported the news. It was also said that Cooper had been spending a noticably large amount of time with one Victor Lopez, a doctor based in Dallas.