Nathaniel Goldberg // GQ
Last month, after earning the title of the most nominated woman at the 2018 Grammys (for her universally-applauded, still-in-rotation debut album Ctrl), SZA walked away empty-handed, naturally sending her fans into a furious tizzy—namely for losing Best New Artist to Alessia Cara (equally talented but whose own debut effort dropped back in 2015).
Though SZA was emotional, grateful and vocal about earning the nominations, she was comparatively quiet about her losses. Until now.
The singer sat down with Mariah Smith for GQ to talk the snub, touring, fatigue, ego, and more.
ON WHY SHE STAYED QUIET AFTER THE GRAMMYS: I just didn't know how to take it. I didn't say anything, I didn't post, because I've never had to deal with anything I really believed in wholeheartedly, or invested in, and went through something that publicly before. I wanted to be honest as fuck, and if today I'm just mad as hell, I don't want to say something that reflects me being mad as hell. But I definitely feel blessed now. I also don't feel compelled to explain myself.
ON ALESSIA CARA: I feel compelled to express that I really, really fuck with Alessia Cara. She's beautiful as fuck, her voice is like water, it's like milk, I think it's gorgeous. It has so much dimension, and she deserves every accolade that she gets. And people can't be mad. I don't give a fuck when her album came out! She sounds great right now! So, like, it's over. You have to just move over and be grateful for the shit that did happen in your favor.
ON IF SHE'D WRITTEN A SPEECH: I did not! I have a weird theory that had I written a speech, things would have went differently....I think things were supposed to go the way they went. I did have a weird inkling to write a speech several times, and usually my inklings are popping! I'm learning myself and learning how to listen to myself. I didn't make my album with the Grammys in mind, and I'm definitely not gonna make my second one with the Grammys in mind. I'm just gonna make really good fucking music and just try to touch people.
ON HOW SHE FELT AFTER LOSING: I was mad as hell for a little while, girl.
ON PARTYING AFTER THE GRAMMYS: No, we definitely went back [to the hotel]. I smoked a bunch of blunts, showed Granny the penthouse I was staying in. My mom hung for a bit and then she went to bed! So that was cool.
ON HOW SHE REACTED TO THE BACKLASH OF HER LOSS: I felt a shift. Like, I came a really long-ass way. I didn't imagine this album doing much anyway. I was so grateful to even have been honored by being nominated and having so many people fuck with my music. I feel like at some point you start to get sucked up into the accolades and you're like, Oh, this is what this is about, and this is what quantifies my success or me as an artist or a human being. We reached a billion streams on Spotify. The United States fucks with my songs. We're changing little girls' lives across the world, and we didn't even know what we were doing when we started. This is something much bigger than me and a fucking trophy. I'm appreciative of the opportunity. But shit happens.