SZA - Ctrl
Critic Score
Based on 18 reviews
2017 Ratings: #42 / 716
Year End Rank: #3
User Score
Based on 772 ratings
2017 Ratings: #37
June 9, 2017 / Release Date
LP / Format
Top Dawg, RCA / Label
Alternative R&B / Genres
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A.V. Club

Ctrl is as tough as Damn is tender, and it knocks as hard as The Sun’s Tirade swoons. It’s weirder than any of them, and maybe funnier, too.

SZA's knack for marrying her assorted tastes into an intriguing sound is her strong suit, and coupled with her distinct vocal and songwriting abilities, she comes across here as a consummate artist.
SZA altered her direction in front of a world waiting on her words by discarding the guarded metaphors to evoke and examine darker realities, and ‘CTRL’ is all the better for it. It is a product that sets a new standard, raising the bar for herself and for other artists young and old.
The long-awaited debut from the Jersey singer is an opulent, raw R&B album that constantly tests the borders of the genre. SZA’s deeply personal lens on modern romance gives these songs endless life.
Pretty Much Amazing

Rowe admits she’s no idea what she’s doing when it comes to being an artist, but CTRL doesn’t suggest this at all. Rather it shows someone with a novel prose and delivery who uses these tools to explore music in ways those before her were unable to do.

Consequence of Sound

With Ctrl, SZA proves that the cult following that ballooned with the release of her 2014 mixtape, Z, was not some flash in the pan, but a deserved wellspring of attention from an adoring fan base whose faith in what she had yet to produce helped to produce the project that could eventually stand as the best thing she has ever done.

Crack Magazine

On Ctrl, SZA’s debut retail album, she explores the full range of her voice over laidback hip-hop production that includes the textural variety of live instrumentation.

Across 45 minutes, she breathlessly leaps between genres, and laments on tired and broken relationships in a stream-of-consciousness style that fans of Frank Ocean’s ‘Blonde’ will adore.
Featuring savage and often heartfelt, diary-like ruminations, ‘CTRL’ pushes against the borders of convention lyrically and sonically, placing it on the upper echelons of potential ‘Best Of ’17’ lists.
This is a marked improvement and an indication of more great work to come.
No Ripcord

Ctrl is a languid, cavernously soulful debut that is never anything but assured – a collection of delicious jams that are equal parts fragile, cozy and piercing.


Making these subtle tonal shifts so impactful is a truly rare feat for a debut record and proves that SZA already has a place among our most heart-wrenching writers and vocalists.

The Observer

Languid and soulful, the debut album from New Jersey singer SZA is an immersive dreamscape.


As a twenty-something woman who’s been single in the age of social media, SZA’s confessional debut album CTRL is strikingly relatable. But what’s remarkable about it is that she has spun her personal experiences into a soulful, touching R&B record with broad appeal beyond her particular demographic.

Spectrum Culture

Throughout the album, the 26 year-old SZA presents herself as an unapologetic femme fatale, often to hilariously blunt effect.

The Needle Drop

SZA delivers a strong full-length debut that explores the emotional complexities of being the other woman.


It’s ... an assembly of tracks that prevail as mantras of self-affirmation, and it balances the two sides of its character with an awareness that feels like an accident, though it's welcomed all the same.

Don't listen to exception. This album is very good. Exception is too pretentious to enjoy anything thats not obscure or underground.
SZA, Kehlani, Tinashe, and all of these flavor-of-the-month R&B singers are the same. No substance, shallow lyrics, and hopping onto whatever wave is popular in music at the time, which in this case is the soul/hip hop fusion similar to what Bryson Tiller popularized. SZA is lucky because she is signed to TDE, which also holds some very talented artists such as two of the features on this album. So, she actually has the resources available to do some different shit which can prove to be ... read more
tl;dr—this feels for me much less basic than other's here are suggesting. i enjoy the shit out of this.

there are moments on this that remind me of Blond. Maybe not as lyrically dense as Frank's work, but still honest—about fucking a guy's bro on valentine's day for cheating on her, being self-conscious about not having a bangin' body...the album feels smooth all the way through and of a slightly higher quality than the other alt r&b stuff out now. some pop anthems in ... read more
Alternative R&B is a crowded genre in 2017. For every artist like Syd and Sampha trying to push the genre, there are ten artists who are more than willing to meander over sleepy beats only a blazed kid could love.

I get it, the genre is getting tired. But SZA has been doing this shit before Bryson Tiller was in diapers. SZA was one of the heads of the genre who showed the most potential in the early 2010's with her S and Z mixtapes. Sure, she had her songs where she would beautifully ... read more
Trabalho exímio de puro R&b. A cadência deste disco é tão smooth e macia que você se sente navegando por estas músicas, que são sobretudo carregadas de emoção. Todas as músicas trabalham com arranjos bem concisos, com harmonias e cadências bem representativas do R&b atual: nada muito alternativo ou eletrônico, mas ainda assim pouco analógico. Gosto destes ritmos, e eles fluem de forma muito bela, de ... read more
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Track List

  1. Supermodel
  2. Love Galore (feat. Travis Scott)
  3. Doves In the Wind (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
  4. Drew Barrymore
  5. Prom
  6. The Weekend
  7. Go Gina
  8. Garden (Say It Like Dat)
  9. Broken Clocks
  10. Anything
  11. Wavy (Interlude) [feat. James Fauntleroy]
  12. Normal Girl
  13. Pretty Little Birds (feat. Isaiah Rashad)
  14. 20 Something
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Added on: January 24, 2017