|Photo by: Iamsza.com|
Key Tracks: "Ice.Moon," "Aftermath," "Terror.Dome"
Every once in a while, a trend will sweep through a genre and become completely inescapable. Trap music has taken over mainstream rap in recent years, combining droning bass, skittering hi-hats, and aggressive boasting into an oddly hypnotic package.
It's the type of music you hear blaring from passing cars but all that you can really hear is the bass.
SZA is using the foundation of trap music to make shimmering R&B with conceptually bizarre lyrics. It's trap music with the platinum chains replaced by flower anklets. It's less about dealing coke and more about sharing a bong at a tie-dye love-in.
S could have just been an interesting novelty, but SZA herself makes it memorable as something more than that. Her vocals are drenched in echo and reverb, and while she can definitely sing well, her vocals are mostly kept light. She could overpower the songs if she really wanted to, but chooses to complement the production instead.
This turns out to be a great idea, because the combination of heavy bass and New Age music makes the songs bounce back and forth between club music and lullabies. It's not the type of music that will get you to tear the club up or beat down someone who just stepped on your shoes, even though it sounds like it was produced by the very same aggressive beatsmiths.
The lyrics of the songs are strange, but they manage to be fitting for such an odd musical mashup. "I am not human / I am made of bacon" isn't a deep lyrical statement, and "Feeling like Topanga, Patti Mayonnaise" is great if you liked Boy Meets World and Doug, but is out of context even within the song. The lyrics are nearly incomprehensible but they fit into the atmosphere of the songs perfectly.
S is less than 30 minutes long, but its brief length seems intentional, as if it's merely a part of a larger project. It wastes a little too much time with skits and the song "Wings" is weak, but this EP is worth a listen. It could be the only album in recent memory that would appeal to hippies, hip-hop heads and anyone else who likes blasting music out of their car windows.
SZA takes New Age and trap music, locks them in a room together, and records what happens.
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