SZA Weaves Dreams on ‘Z’

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Words by Chelsea Whitaker

I have been following SZA since she first appeared on my Soundcloud feed, and I have been hopefully watching her career from the first TDE cosign to her performance with Kendrick Lamar at the Grammys. She is the type of artist who is unique enough to root for, and down to earth enough to relate to. Her debut album, Z, has been anticipated as both a continuation and expansion of her trademark sound. And without fail, SZA’s done just that with the mixture of her soulful vocals and eclectic selection of guest emcees; Z is a genre bending journey that excels at transporting my mind to a dreamy and emotional space at any given moment.

The project is filled with buoyant and lilting soundscapes, with much praise due to the creative, diverse, and layered production. Features from her TDE family abound, with Isaiah Rashad and Kendrick Lamar making appearances. One of the best pairings is with Chance the Rapper for “Childs Play”, where SZA sings “Ripping the heads off of my barbie dolls, toss em to the side” over an XXYYXX sample. We all know that feeling, and Chance punctuates her poetic lyrics with allusions to Pusha T: “Keys open doors when the keys are albino”. Their combined effect is a song that feels like a faded Polaroid of a relationship.

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Staff Picks of 2013

 

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As 2013 nears its end, we continue our tradition of yearly staff picks summing up our favorite music from the 12 months past. This year is very special as we’ve extended our list makers to include Giant Step fam outside of the staff itself; many thanks to Maiya Norton, Nai Palm (Hiatus Kaiyote), Natasha Diggs, Rich Medina, and DJ Spinna for contributing their takes!

Amongst the most popular favorites were Disclosure‘s Settle, Rhye‘s Woman, James Blake‘s Overgrown, and Hiatus Kaiyote‘s Tawk Tomahawk. Dig into the complete lists and let us know your faves as well!

Giant Step Staff Picks of 2013