Kendrick Lamar ethered the entire hip-hop community earlier this week, in the process telling new artists not to get involved. So the fact that Lamar’s label, Top Dawg Entertainment, got involved with a new artist yesterday is worth mentioning. The new signee is New Jersey singer SZA, the label’s first official addition who isn’t part of its Black Hippy core.
SZA works in the clouds—her soaring ballads drip with stormy ambience, hyperlayered hooks, and an atmospheric distance that lends haunting gravitas to her intimate songwriting. On Wednesday, she released “Teen Spirit,” which owes its rattling, unsettling aura to WondaGurl, the 16-year-old producer behind Magna Carta . . . Holy Grail standout “Crown.” Trap snares meander as falsetto melodies strike and fade. “Creeping up my shoulder, I hear you breathing / In my head, I hear you screaming,” goes the bridge, as though SZA is unsure whether this is a dream or a nightmare. I’m thoroughly excited to see what she does with TDE’s resources.
Stream the song after the jump, along with SZA’s S EP, released in April.