Favorite Artist of 2017

Just to give insight, anyone who knows me knows I have an immense amount of love and respect for every artist who was apart of or affiliated with Raider Klan.

With that being said, Denzel Curry has always been an artist I have genuinely supported since the early stages of his career. However, I gained a profound admiration for him in 2016, not only as an artist but a person.

From seeing him perform live for the second time and being someone he remembered, to witnessing numerous career accomplishments, I was extremely proud to be a fan of him last year.

Being inspired enough to write an article about it, I introduced this segment last year on my previous site, Think Unconfined.

Although it’s important to start fresh and close doors when they need to be closed, I knew that I wanted this segment to be apart of my next brand.

Now, as 2017 comes to a close, I’m excited to share my thoughts on someone new as my favorite artist of the year. With a number of artists on the come-up this year and making noteworthy accomplishments, choosing just one artist was a difficult task.

However, I can say that my favorite artist of this year is also an artist I’ve had a great love for since the early beginnings of their career.

Solana Rowe, professionally known as SZA, is an American singer and songwriter from Maplewood, New Jersey. She first gained my attention in 2013, after being the first female to sign with Top Dawg Entertainment.

Considering this label is home to a number of talented yet established artists who I had already grown to become a fan of, I knew SZA would be no different.

What immediately stood out to me about her was the uniqueness of her sound and the way she presented herself as an artist.

With a sound consisting of distinctive vocals and a blend of alternative, neo-soul, chilllwave and hints of hip-hip and R&B, respectively, I found it very easy to vibe and connect with her music.

Furthermore, her tomboyish and minimalist style, in addition to her wild and unapologetic mane, is what made me love her even more. Her spirit and aesthetic made it easy for me to not only relate to her as an artist but a person.

Her debut project, See.SZA.Run, self-released a year prior in October of 2012, is a 7-track EP that includes favorites such as “Advil” and “Crack Dreams.” She later went on to release two mixtapes, S and Z, which helped gained her more exposure, slowly growing her fan base.

Shortly after the release of Z, she appeared on a track titled “Moodring” by Kitty Cash, and collaborated with Jill Scott for a track of her own titled “Divinity.” She also released a visual for her track “Julia,” which appears on Z.

Later that year, she supported Jhene Aiko in her Enter the Void Tour and released another track titled “Sobriety,” which is a personal favorite amongst others. She also received writing credits for the single “Feeling Myself,” by Nicki Minaj featuring Beyoncé.

However, an abrupt hiatus, lasting from late 2014 until this year, left fans and critics alike wondering what was next for her career. Besides later co-writing and appearing on Rihanna‘s “Consideration” in 2016, she stayed under the radar and kept quiet about any new music.

Many expected an EP to be titled A before releasing a studio album but it never came. She disappeared for months before suddenly announcing she was quitting music, just a few months prior to the release of her most recent effort, Ctrl.

Through a series of later-deleted tweets, she expressed her frustrations with her label and feeling an overwhelming amount of pressure as an emerging artist, while also dealing with issues in her personal life.

Yet, her most recent effort and debut studio album, Ctrl, was released on June 9, 2017. With a confessional theme present throughout the album, this project is her most honest and experimental yet.

When artists feel pressured to keep up with the pace of the industry, especially in today’s digital age, they push out rushed work that isn’t their best. However, you can tell SZA truly really took her time with this debut.

Although a tiny part of me is upset that there will never be an A, I’m happy she took a break from music to get to to know herself and gain the control over her life (pun intended) she felt was never there.

Sometimes we as human beings get so caught up in things going on in our life, moving with the flow and pace of it all and lose ourselves in the process. Often times, we have no idea who we are.

Her comeback this year, along with her numerous career accomplishments is the reason why this very article is about her.

The confidence SZA now possesses as an artist and woman is something that’s more than evident and will not go unnoticed without praise. From her physical growth and change in appearance, to now pushing the envelope with her music, all while still staying true to herself.

Her profound confidence and growth as an artist has also worked in her favor this year and I couldn’t be more proud. Ctrl propelled her to new heights this year, earning her an abundance amount of praise.

The album peaked at number 3 on the Billboard 200 and earned her 5 Grammy nominations. Singles “Love Galore” (featuring Travis Scott) and “The Weekend” are currently certified platinum, while Ctrl as an album is certified gold.

She’s released visuals for all three singles along with one for the track “Supermodel,” and the noticeable confidence she now oozes, compared to earlier visuals, makes me extremely proud as a fan.

Other accomplishments include performing at the 2017 BET Awards, appearing on Saturday Night Live, and headlining her first tour. I had the opportunity of seeing her live as well as meeting her and I’m so happy I did.

With Ravyn Lenae and Smino as supporting acts on the Ctrl Tour, it was easily the perfect way to end another stressful semester of college. The energy was everything and finally being able to see SZA live and see her growth in person made me ecstatic.

The meet and greet opportunity was scheduled for before the show but due to a delayed flight, she came late and postponed it to after the show.

Although there were tons of people in line due to it being a sold out show, SZA meet and took pictures with every fan who paid and stayed. Despite being sick and restless, with another city to get to, she remained in good spirits and that alone deserves respect.

In conclusion, I’m genuinely proud of sis and happy for everything she’s accomplished thus far, along with everything great she still has coming her way. She deserves it all.

She’s guest featured on Maroon 5‘s “What Lovers Do,” along with a number of other tracks and currently still doing a bunch of other dope shit that makes me overjoyed.

I could have easily written this article about Cardi B, who also has had a hell of a year, or any other artist, but I chose SZA. I’ve been rooting for sis success for a while now and to finally see her starting to get the recognition she deserves, is the reason why she was my favorite artist of 2017.

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