When I find a musical artist on my own, I often become quite selfish and protective of them. I’m always worried that the artist I have developed a connection with will be exploited and influenced by what the media wants them to be. Many times people who are exposed to the world of money and fame tend to lose themselves and where they came from.

SZA is one of those artists for me. Solána Imani Rowe is well known for her creativity shining through in every way — her voluminous hair, her soft spoken voice, the production of her music, etc. Her and I share the same home-state, New Jersey, and the same birthday on November 8th. I have been a huge fan of hers since I was a sophomore in high school and I’m now finishing off my first semester of junior year in college.

If I were to write into words what her music sounds like, it would be this; a combination of soul, R&B, hip-hop and pop. Her voice dips and lifts from soft-spoken husky tones to high-falsettos seamlessly. Behind her, layers and layers of beats, background voices and instruments are brilliantly mixed to sound new and contemporary.

SZA also has a talent of making lyrics discussing explicit intimacy feel and sound charming. All of her lyrics are painfully honest and describe what feel like indescribable feelings, such as the trouble of being a single and independent woman while still validating the crave for sex and romance in 2017.

At Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, I was one of maybe 200 people at SZA’s small afternoon show. It had been a bit over two years since her EP, “S” was released. I was with a couple acquaintances from my hometown who had heard of SZA and were nice enough to join me.

To say the absolute least, her show was incredible. Her performance felt very personal, raw and beautiful just like the rest of her music. I remember closing my eyes thinking that her voice sounds the exact same as if I already had earbuds in bumping “Ice Queen” or “Child’s Play.”

Her energy and body movements completely made the show. She radiated good vibes and positive energy.

Little did I know at the time, SZA actually sung an unreleased song during the performance called “Pretty Little Birds,” which is now part of her latest album, CTRL.

When CTRL came out in early 2017, I was more than excited to listen to the album. However, before I opened up my Spotify, I noticed that several celebrities were giving her shoutouts to listen to the album on Instagram. Before I knew it, every person on the bus had CTRL light up on their smartphones.

This honestly made me resent SZA for selfish reasons. I was upset because I was expecting she would lose her genuine and down-to-earth personality following her inevitable, impending rapid climb to fame. It took me about a month and a half to be able to finally get myself to listen to a track from the new album.

After giving it a listen, I had realized I was completely wrong and misjudged her. I had respected SZA for who she was and how gifted she was for creating music so original. CTRL did only but amplify just that and who she was. All of CTRL’s lyrics were even more raw and she illustrated events in her life that she had never expressed to the media or even the people involved before the album was released.

Ever since I let myself listen to CTRL, there is not a day that goes by that I’m not blasting the album. All the songs are great, but my most played are undeniably “Go Gina” and “Supermodel”.