“The only thing you can control is the need to feel control.”
I saw that sentence graffitied onto a brick wall in Brooklyn last summer while I was wandering aimlessly, in search of myself, meandering from block to block under the unforgiving sun. It was like a punch in the chest. I was trying to chase my dreams and stay afloat simultaneously, and failing miserably. My distraction from the mess I had made of my life was a daily walk whilst listening to music that inspired me to grow up and glo up. My self-prescription was helpful to an extent, but I still found myself overcome with anxiety attacks and overwhelming self-doubt. “What am I doing? How did I end up here? Where did I f*ck up?”
I’ll be the first to admit I have no idea who I am. And I don’t know how life is supposed to work. Those two uncertainties are my constant, and they make for an interesting trajectory. It becomes even more interesting when I cross paths with woman after woman, girl after girl, who doesn’t know the answer to those queries, either.
Control is something that women constantly struggle to obtain, whether that’s professionally, socially, or interpersonally. Our planet that rotates on the energy of masculinity, so it’s easy for women to slip through the cracks of docility; we’re encouraged to relinquish power and seek it in the form of acceptance and approval, rather than direct possession.
New Jersey singer-songwriter SZA’s proper mainstream debut Ctrl challenges that norm by deconstructing the different ways power and control can be gained. Throughout the album, she explores and exposes control in the form of relationships with men, with time and with the self.