SZA - Ctrl
Critic Score
Based on 21 reviews
2017 Ratings: #56 / 898
Year End Rank: #3
User Score
2017 Ratings: #23
Liked by 141 people
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This is a marked improvement and an indication of more great work to come.
The Line of Best Fit

From start to finish, it's nothing less than outstanding - the late arrival of a very important artist.

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.
Drowned in Sound

In Ctrl, SZA draws on her personal experience and explores women’s sexuality in a direct and honest way which was so far mostly reserved to male R&B and pop artists.

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.
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.


A decent soundtrack for summer romance, even if some tracks get lost in the background.

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
Solana Rowe, most professionally known as SZA, is a Missouri born R&B and Neo-Soul artist. Before breaking through with this amazing record, she recorded an EP,, using beats from the Internet in order to save money. She followed it up with the beginning of a series, starting with S. It was the first project she released after meeting the members of Top Dawg Entertainment label. Both of the EPs received critical acclaim from critics. Z came after those, and it's the EP that ... read more


I was honestly pretty surprised to see this one on here. I'm not complaining but it is interesting that this made it. SZA's 2017 debut was pretty critically acclaimed upon its release and is on its way to becoming a classic in the R&B genre. SZA's sweet but assertive vocals work really well over the smooth guitar and synth-based rnb instrumentals with aspects of pop, neo-soul, and alternative rock as well. I really love all the vocal runs she does throughout the ... 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
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Added on: January 24, 2017