As promising of a talent as SZA has become, you might think she’s been grinding her entire life away to earn her spot both on the TDE roster and in the hearts of a constantly swelling fan base, but you’d be wrong.
In a recent interview with Pharrell Williams and Scott Vener for Beats 1 Radio’s OTHERtone, SZA was asked when she realized she wanted to sing professionally and her answer wasn’t what you might have been expecting.
"I never wanted to do music. Doing music seemed like a job, like a burden that would remove the joy of listening."
SZA goes on to reveal that it was ultimately her brother, an aspiring rapper, who got her to flex her vocal abilities for an album he was putting together. SZA recounts singing a hook for her brother and, at first, not liking how her voice sounded. She would then go in and experiment with different styles and inflections, noting that being unattached from the music itself allowed her to manipulate her approach without the complications of emotional investment.
After noticing his sister could “low-key sing, for real,” SZA’s brother began “training” her by intentionally trying to make her uncomfortable, asking her to perform Biggie lyrics over MF DOOM production.
SZA remembers, “He would Joe Jackson me for like weeks, but only for the sole purpose of his album. And, I don’t know, I just started making my own stuff.”
So, basically, we all have SZA’s brother to thank for the fantastic music she’s been putting out for the last several years.
As if we needed another reminder, SZA’s story goes to show that we never know where life will take us and what we’ll excel at until we try. This story also provides some insight into SZA’s recent comments about wanting to leave music behind to pursue other artistic endeavors.
With her debut album CTRL on the way, we now have a new lens through which to view SZA’s artistry, and a new appreciation for the work she’s put into her craft over the last several years to get her to a place that many have been working their entire lives to reach.
Shout out to SZA’s brother for essentially developing one of the most sought-after voices in R&B right now. Also, I’m going to need a recording of SZA sing-rapping Biggie lyrics over MF DOOM production ASAP, please.
By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter.
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