When it comes to music, SZA isn’t interested in labels. In an interview with Wonderland Magazine, the “Weekend” singer confessed that she doesn’t like it when people call her a “queen of R&B.”
“I don’t know why, but I was very much an ‘MMMBop’ person,” she said referring to her musical tastes growing up. “I loved that boy band energy. It was intoxicating.”
Citing Ella Fitzgerald, Jamiroquai, Björk , Limp Bizkit, N’Sync, LFO, and the Backstreet Boys, to name a few, as some of the musical influences that helped to contribute to her unique sound, the singer shared that she doesn’t wish to be boxed in by just one genre.
“Nobody does that to white people at all, ever. No one ever does that to Adele or Justin Bieber when they’re wholeheartedly singing R&B. Or Björk, where nobody’s sure what the f**k she’s singing, but it’s energy and nobody’s concerned,” said SZA.
SZA went on to argue that the only genre in which black people are permitted to excel in is R&B and soul.
“It’s like the only genre that we’re allowed to own is R&B and soul, and even then you might get bumped outta that category by somebody with fairer skin and a better marketing team. But I can’t pretend it’s not exciting to see someone who isn’t black execute so exceptionally well. It’s mystifying; the soul is an energy,” she said. “Like Nai Palm from Hiatus Kaiyote, she’s a f**king force to be reckoned with. She’s one of my favorite voices of soul right now, next to Ari Lennox. R&B is too fickle. I spent too much time growing up on just as much Imogen Heap, and listening to Comfort Eagle by Cake and vibing for people to call me a ‘queen of R&B’. Why can’t I just be a queen, period?”
SZA most certainly isn’t the first black musician to state that the music industry is segregated and fueled by racism, keeping black artists restricted to just a couple of genres. However, her comment about being called a “queen of R&B” raised a few eyebrows on social media as some questioned who was actually referring to her as a queen of the genre in the first place. Others, however, quickly jumped to her defense arguing that she is in fact one of the modern queens of R&B.
Check out some of the reactions below: