Solana on The Neptunes production? Yes, please! With her first official solo single since her career-defining debut album Ctrl, SZA pulls out all the stops. From a silky Ty Dolla $ign hook to Pharrell and Chad Hugo sauce to wavy yet succinct choreo to an undeniable hidden end of video sneak peek, this is the drop we all didn’t realize we needed.
The poignancy of the track’s intention is apparent straight from the jump. The Neptunes tension-filled percussion fused with sliding synths that peak the suspense yet smooth it out juxtaposed with Ty Dolla’s raspy vibed out vocals set the mood. Then the first hit of Ty’s hook lyrics let you know how potent the piece is set up to be as he sings, “Hit different when I’m sittin’ here alone, all by myself. Hit different when I think you might be with somebody else.” Ty taps into a wildly relatable post-breakup conundrum. Though it may have felt right to leave at the time when you’re alone with your thoughts thinking of your former lover engaging physically with another partner, it can make your brain and heart do a backflip. The song centers around that realization.
Ty’s set up creates the perfect pocket for SZA. On Ctrl, she dove deeply into the grey area of love and lust, and here is no different. She sings in her first verse, “Man, I get more in love with you each argument. Somethin’ wrong with me, I like the way you screw your face up. Trigger me right when I need it.” The dichotomy of the never-ending push and pull of being drawn to someone who you know is wrong for you is why SZA will always connect. She is absolutely unafraid to express the humanity in her desire regardless of how problematic it may seem.
At the end of this first verse, SZA and Ty layer vocals in a smooth nod to a 90’s r&b feel that slides back into the hook as easily as you slide back into bed with your ex. They sing, “All that I know is. Mirrors inside me. They recognize you. Please, don’t deny me.” The mirror line is almost cathartic in its understanding that your poor love choices are reflective of who you are. SZA simply gets it. Ty represents the rough realization and SZA represents the questionable initial choice and the backslide. The song builds on layered vocals and intensified urges through to the end, immediately prompting a repeat listen.
For the visual, which was also directed by Solana herself, we see SZA flex not only her aesthetic muscle but also her dancer one. The haze that seems to exist all over the video appears to parallel the dizzying feeling of misguided love itself. The group and solo choreography with baggy pants seems to be a clear nod to Aaliyah and shows SZA’s artistic prowess in a way not previously seen.
From the junkyard to the farm location, the raw nature of the lyric matches the setting. There is a repeated image of SZA with very little clothing covered in a red substance. It’s probably paint but it seems to represent blood. The image is intense but feels like it illustrates how the love she can’t escape has left her exposed. As it is just quick flashes of the image cut in between her in various stunning fits, you could say that the scary feeling never outweighs the driving intensely good one.
The last image of the video is SZA in a brown bikini with beaded braids, lustfully playing around on a gymnastic pommel horse. In this section, she sings a piece of a hidden song that has not yet been released elsewhere. This song may be even more enticing than the already stand out lead single. SZA’s delivery on the lyric, “I worry that I wasted the best of me on you babe, you don’t care,” will replay in your head like a bad decision. The whole drop is just a complete and well-orchestrated idea that feels oddly healing and purposeful.