SZA teamed up with Travis Scott and The Weeknd for “Power is Power,” the lead single from For the Throne: Music Inspired by the HBO Series Game of Thrones. Now just because she’s on the soundtrack for TV’s most popular show doesn’t mean that she’s a true fan of it. Luckily, she is.
I got on the phone with her last week for the Los Angeles Times to not only talk about the track’s upcoming music video, but also why she loves the HBO drama.
“There are some real things for us to relate to on the show,” she told me. “Maybe not fucking my brother [alluding to the incestuous relationship Cersei Lannister, Queen of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, has with her brother Jamie], but you know… the other stuff.”
Can’t really explain why I didn’t post this cover story I did for Flaunt on here months ago. But this is a goodie. The interview happened just before SZA began prepping for her Coachella weekends. I met her on set for the cover shoot and from the start, I knew—at least—that she’d be warm and kind.
Her publicist guided her over to me. “This is Brad,” I heard her tell the singer as they approached. I extended my hand for a shake and for a split second I thought she was going to leave me hanging. SZA looked right past it. We all know that anxious feeling when you think you’re about to be made to look like a fool. It consumed me. Then, boom. She walked right into my chest for a hug. There was an awkward relief. “Oh!” I thought. “This is going be good and different.”
From there, she was pretty open and just the unique blend of quirky and cool that anyone who’s listened to her debut album Ctrl would expect her to be. We talked about insecurities, depression, and fantasies as she munched on her Shake Shack chicken burger.
SZA’s had a roller coaster existence as of late. On the high side, she just dropped her earthy “Garden (Say It Like Dat)” video, where she and Donald Glover get close in the forest. She can also be found making a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance in Childish Gambino’s “This is America” video, shooting a coy look our way before Glover gets loose on a car roof.
On the low end, she has reportedly run her voice ragged. When I saw her in May at the Forum performing during her set at TDE’s Championship Tour, she sounded solid. But her pipes, she said recently on Twitter, are busted. “My voice is permanently injured,” SZA wrote. She can be a bit dramatic at times, I notice. Top Dawg CEO Anthony Tiffith just told fans, “ I will get her with the best doctors and she will be fine.” I believe him.
When SZA and I spoke, she said she’s anxious to get started on her sophomore album. Obviously, it’ll probably be a while before she’s at full strength in the studio. But if you’re looking to learn a bit more about the Jersey hugger, read my cover story here.
Last week I hit the Forum in Los Angeles for the Championship Tour, which features Kendrick Lamar, SZA Schoolboy Q and the rest of Top Dawg Entertainment’s roster. I’ve seen both Lamar and SZA in the last year. But this trek was a refreshed, abbreviated version of their 2017 tours and it was an added treat to see Q, Isaiah Rashad and Jay Rock for a bit.
I was hanging with buds from Nike, who were introducing their collab line with TDE via the SNKRS Stash experience. Concert attendees with the SNKRS app were alerted around 9:30pm through push notifications that Lamar’s Cortez Kenny III available for purchase. Of course, they sold out in minutes. But Nike’s move adds a nice touch, beyond exclusivity. Not only do you have to have the Internet and quick fingers, but also be at the specific location your favorite rapper is to get clothes and kicks that rep his team.
This weekend the SNKRS Stash app returns for the Championship Tour’s Houston stop. Look at the dates below to find out where else you can be a part of the action:
Houston, TX at Social Status – May 19-20
New York, NY at Concepts – May 26-30
Boston, MA at Bodega – June 4-5
Toronto, ON at Livestock – June 11-12
Chicago, IL at Notre – June 14-15
One of the things I love most about my job is when I get to connect my life experiences to art and this was one of those times. My wife and I went to SZA’s concert in September. Prior to it I had been excited to see her live. Her debut album Ctrl was one of the year’s best. It’s narrative is one of a young woman finding herself in her world and feeling like she wasn’t enough of the things she admired in others. I tend to connect with artists who experienced what I’ll call an inferiority complex, feeling that they lack in blatant and not so obvious ways.
In my formative years, I was a skinny kid with glasses and jacked up teeth who envied the cool kids, but never managed to be one. I wasn’t invited to one birthday party or sleepover, nor did I do anything more than hug a girl that I crushed on back in high school. Nerd City, y’all. Population: me. I’m sure there were people who felt like me around. But just as the teenage experience for those who are quite far from Mr. Popular status is portrayed in the movies, it felt like an immensely lonely one.
Since then I’ve grown a bunch and become a person that I’m super happy with. And if you’ve heard Ctrl, it seems SZA has, too. When I first went to her show, I had no plan of writing the piece that it became. At first I wanted to make my story for Flaunt exclusively about her. But as we watched her perform, hearing the things she’d say between songs, I knew I’d have to write something that included me.
I don’t want to spoil your read by telling you why, so just go for it. Thanks for letting me share.