How "Z" X SZA Influenced Me
The album that shifted my paradigm or changed my life is Z, SZA’s 4th project released in 2014. When considering albums, I had to consider my headspace at the time and my transformation.
It was summer of 2016, when I quit my job on the spot and moved back to Charlotte, I was going to stay at my mom’s for a couple months to regroup. Well, I lived uncomfortably for a year– in a 3 bedroom apartment with 4 adults, one teenager, and a baby, the living room serving as my “humble abode”. This was extremely problematic for myself, a single introvert that had just sublet my 1 bedroom apartment. Here I reached a low point. In addition to the deep sadness I felt for conditions of a systematic world, I was disappointed and confused– I felt like a failure.
I am the oldest of 3, so there has always been an added pressure on me to be exemplary. Well, I no longer wanted that, and I wanted that to be known. I no longer wanted to be a people-pleaser, I wanted to be selfish and live for myself, I did not want to fulfill my mom’s societal dreams of myself retiring from a job– let alone give Corporate America another shot, but I needed money! I was on the job hunt for a month and half before I lucked into a corporate job, by-passing the interview process. To make matters worse, my ex-boyfriend and his girlfriend (appointed shortly after my debunking) were doing exceptionally well (according to social media). I felt so much resentment towards him. He was being a much better boyfriend to her, but only had been able only offered me a “HiiiJack” and “Green Mile” type of relationship. It made me wonder ‘why’, I questioned my love and beauty, and I would stoop as low to seek additional remorse and reassurance from him, reassurance that he did in fact love me at one point, and that he loved me more than her. I felt I should have been the one of both of us that “glowed up”, nothing about it was fair in my eyes. It was in this place, that I began to question The Infinite, or God. I would look up and cry in desperation, confused as to what I did to deserve any of it. ‘Is this Karma?’, ‘was I that much of a bitch in my past life?’, I just didn’t get it. Was is even God?? Relating to the line “Sometimes I call your name, just to see if it’s you”, found in “Warm Winds”. There was a undeniable darkness in these low moments, one I wouldn’t have dared associate with my God. I became angry with God, yet fearful as SZA in “Sweet November”, I was waiting for everything to be fixed, after all I did not deserve any of it.
Z, by SZA became home for me. It was a getaway that made me face myself and God. The album focuses on three area of life I was struggling with, Stability, Spirituality, and Love. She too felt like a let down to her parents referencing Desdemona in “Childs Play”, the Shakespeare character condemned by her father for dating Othello. Listening to SZA speak her dark truths made me less fearful of mine, after all I thought she was still beautiful. SZA speaking of her shortcomings and failures made me feel not so bad about mine, it made me realize I am a work in progress and I can be better if I wanted to, and I did. I also wanted to be crucified for the reasons she wanted in “Babylon”. I wore my self-sabotage and weaknesses with disgrace. I did not like myself in those moments, I wanted to be reborn and elevated. I wanted to be accountable and in charge! I did a little psychology research to self-diagnose my childhood traumas. In return, I began to create more, writing to acknowledge the gaps in my life where I needed my parents, distant because my mom was still growing up and my dad spent the 1st nine years of my life in prison. Addressing these things helped me realized I was loved but not nurtured, it explained my insecurities and mystic (intentional guard from people). It allowed me to see myself, as if I was learning about a complete stranger and consequently I became more empathetic and gentle towards myself. Here I began to fall in love with myself, just as SZA showed me, she was able to conquer here demons and realize she was worth her own love at least and of course God’s. I too started to feel acknowledge and loved by God, ‘if God can take her through, why not me?’, I realized, after all I genuinely feel my heart to be pure. I became resistant to certain “love”, the kind that did not feel right. The journey was an intense one, one that involved random breakdowns in the shower, all of which no one would know of until now, and locking myself in the bathroom to hit my bowl in secrecy. There was a lot of going back and forth with The Infinite, angry moments, moments of gratitude, and moments of peace– peace being the very thing I wanted to master (hell, I still am a piece of work of a masterpiece trying to master peace).
Songs like “Ur” reminded me that The Infinite was within me as well, as so with all, which served as a confidence boost and made me feel invincible. “U” meaning “universe” in the supreme alphabet, and “R” meaning “Ruler”. But it is “Omega” that really embodies my experience growing through all the internal conflict. Desperately calling out to God, wondering if I was being heard, sometimes feeling I wasn’t, “lines drawn in the sand”, symbolic of my ongoing dedication to growth and spiritual advancement– SZA encouraging to ‘keep your (my) feet firmly planted’, to not deviate from my process.
For me Z was a shoulder to cry on, a tight hug. It was like SZA was comforting me with empathy; because she was relatable, I was hopeful. She went through the dark and persevered. She failed at so much, numerous times, and still obtained success. It made me believe in myself and see the beauty in my journey, and to want to wear my truths proudly. I became more in tune with myself and more expressive, conquering meekness brought on by childhood suppression. My 2.0 was more grateful, patient, rational, assertive, vocal, calm, empathetic, accountable, and emotionally mature. I say ‘was’ in the former because I still walk the path to my supreme divinity.The album helped me accept God’s grace for all the doubt I had placed on The Infinite. Not only did Z assist with all those things, it also depended my appreciation for music, something I already loved so dearly, with SZA as my new Generation favorite (Erykah always being “Muva”).