It’s been three long, treacherous years without any new music from SZA – and just as expected her new single, “Hit Different,” featuring Ty Dolla $ign is undoubtedly worth the wait. Since the release of SZA’s debut album “Ctrl” back in 2017, fans have been patiently waiting and hungry for new music.
SZA is an artist who is known to take her time while creating her music-making sure every single lyric, note, and the image she releases to the world is authentic to her truth. The drought that ensues in-between moments when SZA is working and perfecting her craft is quite ominous to her fans. We don’t realize that the whole time she has been planting and nurturing seeds until her magic and beauty blossoms before our eyes – until she is ready to reveal her harvest to the world.
“Hit Different” sonically reminds me of the same energy SZA embodies on past R&B ballads like “Love Galore” and “The Weekend” – riding pockets of simplistic, soul-inspired beats with a voice that shifts gracefully in and out of various flows and high notes.
Ty Dolla $ign carries the chorus of this track, making it incredibly catchy and delivering his usual melodic and passionate vocals. Ty Dolla $ign’s rhythm and flow that he possesses is much more consistent and expected – which perfectly balances out SZA’s more care-free and unpredictable way in which she approaches a track. SZA is really showcasing her ability to play and tamper with her voice – dragging out certain notes, keeping us on our toes as to what form her voice will embody next.
“Hit Different” has SZA expressing the ways in which she finds herself trapped in knowing right from wrong – but still finding herself fighting off temptation and desire for a love that she knows does not serve her highest good. SZA’s music often incorporates themes of self-reflection and heart-ache – but at the core is a desire to continue to reach towards self love and self acceptance. It seems that SZA’s desire to honor herself though is what ultimately seems to win in the end.
However, her music reflects notions of just how hard it can be to choose yourself and your desires over the love you have for another person. In this track, SZA is able to take away the glamour that is often associated with self care. “Hit Different” is an accurate representation of what stepping into your power actually looks and feels like.
“Hit Different” speaks to the ways in which our partners can often represent and acts as mirrors to our own inner conflicts and demons. Sometimes, the ways in which we find ourselves reacting and being triggered to whatever is unfolding within the relationship so painfully illuminates the traumas we still need to heal.
SZA sings, “Quicker than we started, evidence we misaligned. Man, I get more in love with you each argument. Somethin wrong with me. I like the way you screw your face up.”
She knows that this love isn’t what it’s supposed to be – this passion, comfort, and familiarity that ensues when they are fighting with one another is a red flag. SZA is unearthing this realization that her soul recognizes and equates toxicity with love because it is far too familiar to what she has experienced in the past. The mirror of the past keeps calling and drawing her back in. The comfort and security that she sees in this love is what makes it “hit different.”
SZA dropped a stunning music video to accompany this single as well, in which she is the sole director. The video itself mirrors the ways in which SZA’s voice shape-shifts – taking on various different locations and aesthetics at the drop of a hat. One moment SZA is dancing amongst an abandoned car lot – the next she is lying down majestically in a barn, surrounded and protected by white horses.
SZA mentioned on her Instagram that she actually learned to master the art of Qigong specifically for the video. Qigong is an ancient practice of body movement and poses that are carried out with the intention to help aid and strengthen one’s spiritual journey – encouraging meditation and breath-work. These movements she is embodying represent her desires to continue to stay aligned with her path and remain grounded.
The series of various, contrasting images mimic the symbolism of internal conflict that SZA is battling within her mind – wanting to release and return to a love simultaneously. Towards the end of the music video, “Hit different” transforms into a short tease of another song. The beat switch has an angelic, dreamy tone to it – like the feeling that arises when the sun glistens and shines its rays onto the water. SZA utilizes the space this beat offers to completely step into her power – which unearths naturally her vulnerability and inherent fears.
This part of the video she is seen embracing the vulnerability the lyrics offer by visually being adorned in her own skin – sporting a bikini and slowly climbing, positioning herself on top of what appears to be a low beam that would be used in gymnastics. This could also be a homage or just mere symbolism of the past – before SZA got involved in music, she was an avid gymnast.
She lets her voice soar freely as she hopes for good days to come and mourns good days that seem to belong and remain solely in her past.
She sings, “Oh wait, I almost feel the smile. I still wanna try. I still want to believe in good days. Good days, always inside. Good day living in my mind. Tell me I’m not my fears, my limit.”
SZA is searching for balance and harmony. She is wanting to be able to still have hope for this relationship to grow – while also wanting to continue to have hope and faith within herself to walk away. Her worries stem from the ways in which she feels this love has overtaken and consumed her mind – making her lose and shed pieces of herself along the way, making her lose precious time.
SZA has not officially announced that she is dropping an album soon – but one can definitely infer and pick up on the hints that it may be coming sooner than we think with the release of “Hit Different.” I cannot wait to see what she has in store for us – what undeniable magic is yet to come from SZA blessing us with new music in the future.