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Breaking down the Album ‘SOS’ by ‘SZA’

Released: 2022

Label: Top Dawg Entertainment/RCA Records

Featuring: Don Toliver, Phoebe Bridgers, Travis Scott, “Ol Dirty Bastard”

With ‘SOS’, SZA delivers a soul-baring exposition of her life, artistry, and womanhood in full bloom. As a follow-up to her breakthrough debut ‘Ctrl,’ the album dives into an ocean of emotions, laced with riveting collaborations and raw lyrical honesty. From front to back, ‘SOS’ brims with anthems of self-love, resilience, and an unflinching exploration of broken relationships.

Featuring notable collaborations with artists like Don Toliver, Travis Scott, Phoebe Bridgers, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard, the album takes listeners on a rollercoaster ride of emotions, packed with stirring confessions and powerful dialogue. With its skillful weaving of intricate emotions and smooth yet haunting melodies, ‘SOS’ carries the listener through the peaks and valleys of SZA’s personal journey with an authenticity that resonates deeply.

Released in 2022, under the Top Dawg Entertainment/RCA Records banner, ‘SOS’ is more than a mere collection of tracks. Each song tells a story, unveiling layers of SZA’s experiences and emotions, offering listeners a glimpse into her heart and mind. So let’s get into it. From “SOS” to “Forgiveless (feat. Ol’ Dirty Bastard),” here we are breaking down the album “SOS” by SZA.

1 SOS

She sets the stage with a declaration of emotional vulnerability—a rare admission of tears shed—only to pivot sharply to a stance of unapologetic empowerment. SZA demands recognition and reparation for her influence and contributions, refusing to be diminished or forgotten. Her words, “This ain’t no warning shot ‘Case all you hoes forgot,” serve as a formidable reminder of her indomitability in the face of those who’ve underestimated or exploited her. Through a blend of gritty honesty and assertive confidence, SZA navigates a landscape of personal and artistic reclaim, asserting her worth and dismissing anyone who dares to overlook it.

2 Kill Bill

SZA navigates through the mental turmoil of seeing an ex-lover move on, channeling an exaggerated, cinematic vengeance reminiscent of the film from which it borrows its title. The standout line, “Rather be in jail than alone,” captures the intense, albeit hyperbolic, sentiment driving the narrative. This line isn’t just a casual throwaway; it’s a hard-hitting confession of desperation, underscoring a deep fear of loneliness that’s relatable yet pushed to an extreme. Through “Kill Bill,” SZA masterfully uses her lyrical prowess to explore the darker side of love and attachment, wrapping these heavy themes in a captivating melody that’s both haunting and irresistibly catchy.

3 Seek & Destroy

The track maneuvers through the emotional turmoil of recognizing one’s own destructive tendencies, particularly in the realm of personal relationships, and the paradoxical empowerment found in self-aware ruin. With lines like “Now that I’ve ruined everything, I’m so fucking free,” SZA perfectly encapsulates the liberation found in the aftermath of self-sabotage, juxtaposing the pain of destruction with the sweet release of freedom. The song’s allure lies in its raw honesty and the universal struggle of grappling with one’s darker impulses. SZA’s vocal delivery, coupled with the poignant lyrics, crafts a narrative that’s both deeply personal and universally resonant, making “Seek & Destroy” a standout anthem for anyone who’s ever found themselves in the crosshairs of their own making.

4 Low

She vividly paints a picture of navigating the volatile terrain between personal freedom and societal scrutiny, declaring, “But these bitches in my business got me outchea choosin’ violence / If you see me out in public, you don’t know me, keep it silent.” This line not only encapsulates the song’s essence but also strikes a chord with anyone striving to maintain their inner sanctum amidst external noise. Through a mix of sultry confidence and a touch of aggression, SZA explores the duality of keeping affairs ‘on the lowski’ while wrestling with the urge to break free from the constraints of public perception. Her articulate expression of needing “total confidential private shit” juxtaposes sharply with a world that’s all too eager to pry, making “Low” a resonant anthem for the discreetly rebellious.

5 Love Language

With a raw honesty, she navigates the treacherous waters of vulnerability and the longing for understanding, encapsulated in the line, “Needing you to talk to me in your love language.” It’s a plea for intimacy beyond the physical, a call for a deeper bond that transcends superficial interactions. This track stands as a poignant exploration of the longing to be truly seen and heard by a partner, amidst the noise of misunderstandings and half-truths. SZA’s ability to capture the essence of such a universal desire, while also highlighting the unique pain of feeling disconnected from someone so close, is what makes “Love Language” resonate with listeners on a deeply personal level.

6 Blind

Through her lyrics, she navigates the complexity of seeking validation and love in all the wrong places, articulating the struggle with lines that resonate deeply, like “My pussy precedes me / My, my, how the times change” and “It’s so embarrassing / All of the things I need living inside of me / I can’t see, I’m blind.” This track stands out as a candid reflection on the consequences of her actions and the internal battles that come with trying to see past one’s own metaphorical blindness. SZA doesn’t shy away from the messiness of her emotions and choices, instead, she owns them, presenting a powerful anthem for anyone wrestling with self-recognition and the desire to move beyond the past.

7 Used

Features: Don Toliver

The rawness and vulnerability are palpable as she navigates the complexities of feeling disposable in relationships and the broader world. The collaboration with Don Toliver adds a layer of emotional resonance, blending their voices to explore the pain of being ‘used’ while still seeking closeness and authenticity. A standout line, “Can’t trust nobody you ain’t been broke with,” encapsulates the theme of the song—trusting others is a journey, often paved with hardship and shared struggles. This lyric reflects a deep insight into human connections and the barriers to intimacy we face, making it a powerful moment in the song. Their exploration of these themes against the backdrop of a melodic, but haunting production creates a compelling commentary on love and vulnerability in today’s world.

8 Snooze

With a raw emotional undercurrent, SZA explores themes of loyalty, risk, and the fear of missing out on profound moments of connection. She sings, “How can I snooze and miss the moment? / You just too important / Nobody do body like you do,” highlighting the irreplaceable essence of her partner and the fear of losing what is momentary yet monumental. The track blends the intensity of love’s sacrifices with the gentleness of intimate moments, crafting a narrative that resonates with anyone who’s ever been deep in the trenches of love. The standout line, “Like the white bitch with the bob, I’ll be your main one,” conveys a willingness to play any role, encapsulating the depth of her commitment. “Snooze” is a reminder of the all-consuming power of love and the lengths we’ll go to keep it.

9 Notice Me

The track is a raw reflection on personal growth, the pursuit of genuine interaction, and the frustration of unreciprocated feelings. She eloquently captures the essence of longing to be seen and valued for who she is rather than what she offers, wrapping these sentiments in a blend of smooth vocals and candid, relatable lyrics. A standout line, “I don’t wanna be your girlfriend, I’m just tryna be your person,” hits hard, emphasizing her desire for a bond that transcends conventional labels, seeking a deeper, more personal connection that’s not confined by societal expectations of relationships.

10 Gone Girl

With a defiant tone, she declares her need for “more space and security” and less of the scrutiny that’s been tightening its grip around her freedom. The standout line, “Squeezin’ too tight, boy, you’re losin’ me,” encapsulates the crux of the song’s message: the paradoxical loss caused by trying to hold onto someone too tightly. Through her lyrics, SZA embarks on a journey towards solitude as a means of salvation, shedding layers of external expectations and demands. The haunting repetition of “Gone, gone girl” serves as a mantra for her transformation, a reminder of the inevitability of change and the power of self-liberation in the face of constriction.

11 Smoking on my Ex Pack

She crafts a vivid imagery of moving on from past entanglements with a swagger that’s both icy and empowering. A standout line, “He screamin’, ‘Get back together,’ I’m screamin’, ‘Back of the bus, trick!’,” captures the essence of the track—SZA is unapologetically prioritizing herself, shutting down any hopes of reconciliation with a dismissive, bold retort. Through her lyrics, she puffs away the remnants of past loves like smoke, each verse a testament to strength and self-respect in the face of heartbreak and disappointment. With sharp wit and a fierce attitude, SZA channels the energy of a phoenix rising from the ashes of past relationships, asserting her worth and signaling a fresh start.

12 Ghost in the Machine

Features: Phoebe Bridgers

Phoebe Bridgers)” weaves a tapestry of vulnerability and existential musings, underscored by a raw desire for genuine human connection amidst a world plagued by superficiality and emotional detachment. Bridgers and SZA fuse their lyrical prowess, dissecting themes of alienation, the quest for happiness, and the paradox of seeking intimacy in an era marked by its absence. The song stands as a poignant critique of society’s obsession with the façade of perfection, revealing the emptiness that lurks beneath. A hard-hitting line, “Robot got more heart than I, Robot got future, I don’t,” encapsulates the essence of the track, juxtaposing the mechanical with the human, to underscore a yearning for essence and authenticity in a digitized age. This collaboration not only showcases their individual strengths but also their shared introspection, making it a compelling narrative on modern disconnection.

13 F2F

SZA navigates the turbulent waters of missing an ex, juxtaposing her need for physical intimacy against the backdrop of emotional turmoil. With razor-sharp honesty, she lays bare the struggle of wanting to move on but being painfully tethered to the past. The line “I hate me enough for the two of us” punches through, encapsulating the self-loathing and desperation that comes with unreciprocated feelings and the lengths one might go to in an attempt to fill that void. SZA’s candid exploration of using physical connections as a band-aid for heartache, while acknowledging it’s a fleeting remedy, resonates with a brutal truth about human behavior and relationships. The song stands out as a poignant acknowledgment of the messiness of love and loss.

14 Nobody Gets Me

Through evocative storytelling, SZA captures the essence of a complex relationship where love and pain coexist, articulating a deeply personal confession that many can relate to. The lines “I don’t wanna see you with anyone but me / Nobody gets me like you” stand out, driving home the song’s theme of irreplaceable companionship and the haunting specter of moving on. It’s a melancholic anthem for those who have loved intensely and fear that no future relationship can mirror the depth of understanding they once shared. SZA’s ability to blend poignant lyrics with her soul-stirring vocal delivery makes “Nobody Gets Me” a powerful testament to love’s lingering grasp.

15 Conceited

With lines like “I got my body done, ain’t got no guilt about it,” SZA confronts societal taboos head-on, reclaiming her autonomy over her body and choices. The track exudes confidence, particularly with the hard-hitting line, “I got everything that I need, and I want more / I can’t take my foot off they neck, it’s an encore.” This showcases SZA’s unapologetic pursuit of success and satisfaction, irrespective of the opinions of others. She positions herself above the noise of critics and detractors, emphasizing a self-first mentality. “Conceited” is not just a song; it’s a declaration of self-worth and a refusal to depend on anyone else for validation or happiness, encapsulated perfectly in the mantra-like repetition of “me, me, me.”

16 Special

SZA navigates through the turmoil of wanting to embody an ideal that’s been both glamorized and normalized, only to find herself lost in the process. “I gave all my special away to a loser / Now, I’m just a loser,” she admits, encapsulating a profound sense of regret and self-resentment. This line hits hard, painting a picture of someone who’s traded their unique essence for acceptance, only to end up feeling more alienated. Through “Special,” SZA voices a struggle that resonates on a universal level—the sacrifice of one’s uniqueness in the pursuit of fitting in, and the poignant longing to reclaim that special part of oneself that once was, before the world told us who to be.

17 Too Late

With lyrics that stir the soul, SZA explores themes of desire, the fear of love, and the innate human craving for connection—even when it’s fraught with danger. A standout line, “Every time you break my heart, it feel new,” encapsulates the song’s essence, highlighting the repetitive cycle of hurt that feels uniquely painful with each recurrence. The song masterfully blends vulnerability with a haunting acknowledgment that it might be too late to salvage something so dangerously close to destruction. SZA’s artistry shines through in her ability to weave complex emotions into smooth yet piercing melodies, making “Too Late” a resonant anthem for those caught in the intensity of a love that’s as perilous as it is compelling.

18 Far

Through her soul-stirring vocals, SZA navigates the complexities of reclaiming her identity, no longer allowing another’s perception to dictate her self-worth. The track embodies a journey of introspection and the resilience in facing one’s demons, encapsulated in the line, “Far, far, like I don’t recognize me.” This lyric hits hard, as it reflects the disorientation that comes from losing oneself in another, marking a turning point towards self-liberation. Her candidness about battling rejection and seeking solitude, “I’m far, far ’cause I can’t trust nobody”, resonates with anyone who’s ever felt diminished by their relationships. “Far” stands as both a declaration of SZA’s newfound autonomy and a universal anthem for those walking the path towards self-rediscovery.

19 Shirt

Through its poignant lyrics, the track narrates the turmoil of holding onto self-worth amidst the chaos of unfulfilling relationships and the ceaseless pursuit of perfection. SZA’s voice, laced with both defiance and a haunting resignation, brings to life the internal struggle of seeking comfort in one’s sins while grappling with the external pressures of appearances and societal expectations. “Blood stain on my shirt, new bitch on my nerves” hits with the force of a blunt confession, encapsulating the messiness of emotional entanglements and the stains they leave behind, both figuratively and literally. It’s this unfiltered honesty, paired with SZA’s soul-stirring delivery, that etches “Shirt” into the heart, leaving listeners to ponder their own battles with acceptance and the quest for self-love.

20 Open Arms

Features: Travis Scott

Featuring Travis Scott, there’s a narrative of dependency and unconditional devotion that paints a vivid picture of a complex romance. SZA and Travis Scott weave a tale of personal struggles, fear of abandonment, and the willingness to remain open and devoted despite it all. Travis Scott’s verse, “I’m forever ridin’ (whoa), you’re forever guidin’ (ayy),” encapsulates a commitment to stand by each other through life’s turbulence. This line stands out for its portrayal of mutual support and guidance in a relationship that’s tested by internal and external storms. The song delves into the vulnerabilities and insecurities that come with love, echoed by SZA’s longing and repeated assurances of her openness and devotion. The heartfelt collaboration brings to light the complexities of love—acknowledging the flaws and insecurities while celebrating the devoted ties that bind.

21 I Hate U

SZA doesn’t hold back as she details the contradictions of wanting closeness with someone who only brings pain, capturing the essence of being fed up yet hopelessly attached. A standout hard-hitting line, “Used to be too solid ’til you scrambled me, used to be your rider, you mishandle me,” reveals the transformation of her identity and patience due to mistreatment. The song’s brilliance lies in its ability to weave complex emotions into relatable lyrics, highlighting the struggle of hanging onto something that’s clearly hurting. SZA’s candidness in expressing the cycle of anger and desire, alongside the recognition of her own changed demeanor, speaks volumes to anyone who’s found themselves stuck in the cycle of a love-hate relationship.

22 Good Days

With a soul-stirring honesty, she encapsulates the essence of striving for brighter moments while being entrenched in the shadows of past relationships and internal battles. “Gotta get right, tryna free my mind before the end of the world,” she articulates, a powerful testimony to the urgency of finding self-acceptance and tranquility in a world that often feels like it’s crumbling. This track stands out as a beacon of hope, urging listeners to cherish the good days, those fleeting moments of clarity and happiness, amidst the chaos of life and the wars within. SZA’s lyrical prowess shines as she weaves this tapestry of resilience, making “Good Days” a poignant reminder of the light that exists even in our darkest hours.

23 Forgiveless

Features: “Ol Dirty Bastard”

The lyrics navigate a rugged terrain of defiance, self-reliance, and an unapologetic stance on personal boundaries and vendettas. Ol’ Dirty Bastard, with his unmistakable cadence, brings a sense of gritty authenticity, declaring, “I don’t care ’bout consequences, I want my lick back.” This line encapsulates the track’s ethos of confronting adversities head-on, regardless of the fallout. SZA’s and ODB’s verses stitch together a narrative of resilience and the refusal to be dimmed by past grievances or current doubters, all while delivering a sonic nod to hip-hop’s golden era. “Forgiveless” isn’t just a song; it’s a raw, unyielding declaration of steadfastness and self-empowerment, bridging generations of hip-hop with its vibrant collaboration.

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