SZA’s new album SOS is finally here — check it out below.
Released on Friday (December 9), the eagerly anticipated project clocks in at a sprawling 23 tracks and boasts guest appearances from Travis Scott, Don Toliver, the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Phoebe Bridgers, as well as uncredited vocals from Lizzo.
Behind the boards, production comes from Babyface, Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, DJ Dahi, Jay Versace, Emile Haynie, Jeff Bhasker, Michael Uzowuru, ThankGod4Cody, Benny Blanco and more, with the sound ranging from sultry R&B and boom bap Hip Hop to pop-punk.
The album includes the previously released singles “Good Days,” “I Hate U” and “Shirt,” as well as “Blind,” which SZA debuted during her performance on Saturday Night Live earlier this month.
The cover art depicts the Top Dawg Entertainment songbird perched on the edge of a white diving board in a custom ice hockey jersey surrounded by the deep blue ocean. The artwork was inspired by a photo of Princess Diana that was taken prior to her death in 1997.
“Originally I was supposed to be on top of a shipping barge, but in the references that I pulled for that, I pulled the Diana reference,” SZA explained in a recent interview with Hot 97’s Nessa. “Because I just loved how she isolated she felt, and that was what I wanted to convey the most.”
As for the album title, she said during the same interview: “Of course, it’s like Save Our Souls and then Save Our Ship. But it’s also, you know, SZA stans in supreme alphabet, the S is Self-Savior. And my friends call me Sos for short, because Solana but shorter and cuter, I guess.”
It hasn’t been a smooth journey to SOS‘s release. The album has been plagued by numerous delays and bickering between SZA and her labels in recent years. In July, the 33-year-old blamed her manager, TDE president Terrence “Punch” Henderson, and RCA Records for the hold-up.
“it’s 100% punch and rca on this one,” she wrote in a since-deleted tweet. “I wanted the summer. They wanted more time. Atp I’m just tryna have a good time stress free lol.”
Punch, however, claimed it was a simple case of miscommunication that was blown out of proportion.
“I remember one of the main things that kicked this off,” he said on Math Hoffa’s My Expert Opinion in September. “I was dropping the ‘Hit Different’ record and Ty Dolla $ign was on the hook, but Ty had just dropped his single. So they called and asked could we wait for a week just to give him some run on what he was doing before we put ours out.
“So I’m like, ‘Yeah we can do that,’ and I held the song back for a week and it was taken as I’m holding the album back. So we go from there and it snowballs to where the fans see it and they only see the small print.”
SOS serves as the long-awaited follow-up to SZA’s debut album Ctrl, which arrived in June 2017. The project featured appearances from Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, Isaiah Rashad and more, and spawned a string of hit singles including “Love Galore,” “The Weekend” and “Broken Clocks.”
Ctrl was a commercial and critical success, debuting at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 while yielding multiple nominations at the 2018 Grammy Awards. It has since been certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Earlier this year, SZA released a deluxe edition of Ctrl featuring seven bonus songs, including a collaboration with Tyler, The Creator, a cover of PARTYNEXTDOOR and Drake’s “Come and See Me” and a solo version of “Love Galore” containing a previously unheard verse.
Stream SOS below: