It’s no secret that SZA’s discography has had a unique and profound effect on black girls everywhere. Her ability to capture the essence of young womanhood, as a black woman, is unlike anything many have heard. After nearly three years since Ctrl; SZA’s latest single,“Hit Different” feat. Ty Dolla $ign, has everyone listening.
What I can appreciate so much about SZA is her dedication to her craft. I feel like the reason so many young black girls identify with her and her music is because she is so multifaceted. In Ctrl it almost felt like every song on the album represented a different part of her. In 2017, I think it was especially important to have a black artist who is a woman and has allowed us a raw, uncut version of herself. Knowing the significance of that, I’m not expecting SZA to match Ctrl and I don’t think she should because that is a lot of pressure. That being said, SZA is one of my favorite artists for more reasons than changing the culture. SZA’s vocals and visuals are always top tier. This time around was no different.
“Hit Different” is ultimately a song about an open relationship: one that is fueled by arguments and miscommunication. SZA expresses the shame she feels for loving this person despite knowing that they aren’t good for her. In the song’s pre-chorus verse she mentions, “Mirrors inside me. They recognize you. Please, don’t deny me.” This could represent SZA’s intuition. This kind of relationship isn’t new to her, yet still she finds herself in this predicament again.
What’s so enjoyable about this song though, like so many of SZA’s songs, is that outside of the lyrics, “Hit Different” is reminiscent of late 90s early 2000s R&B. Produced by The Neptunes, I’m sure this isn’t a coincidence. “Hit Different” is a nostalgic blend of melodies and chords that establish a feeling of enlightenment. SZA’s music has always done that. Her music has always been a source of healing.
The video for “Hit Different,” directed by SZA herself, is every bit as reminiscent of the 90s, as the lyrics are. The choreography, the group dance scene in the junkyard, and the sheer presence of several black women alone is enough to bring back those feelings of nostalgia for a time most of us we're too young to experience. SZA is so good at perfecting ambient, chill, tempos that are so fitting for visuals as moving as hers.
I’ll forever be grateful for SZA and her commitment to making black women feel seen.