Review: SZA’s new album ‘SOS’

By: Alexa Ramirez

SZA’s 5 year hiatus has finally come to an end, and her new album ‘SOS’ has broken the internet, reaching the No. 1 spot on Billboard 200. This album contains 23 tracks, is filled with several collaborations, and is a definite sign of expansion in this upcoming musician’s artistic style.

Image of SZA taken from:

Solana Rowe (SZA) is a 33-year-old R&B singer from Missouri. She began making music in the early 2010’s, and released her debut album, ‘CTRL’, in June of 2017. This album gave her a great deal of her fame, but is filled with nearly all contemporary R&B, which is what got her the reputation she has in the music world as an R&B singer.

She has also gained huge followings through social media, and experienced success with TikTok, where many of her songs, such “Good Days”, “Broken Clocks”, “Drew Barrymore” and many more are used by fans making videos.

She also made an appearance in the movie ‘Black Panther’, in the song “All the Stars” which she collaborated on with Kendrick Lamar.

She has also been featured on Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show, and performed in the Good Vibes Festival, Panorama NYC, AFROPUNK FEST Paris and many others.

Though she is relatively new to the music scene, she is definitely making a large name for herself and her music is only on its come up now.

While she has stayed relevant through social media, she hasn’t been releasing much music since her debut album in 2017. Since then, she has added a deluxe version of her first album ‘CTRL’ and has released three songs. “I Hate U”, “Good Days” and “Shirt” were all songs she released between albums which kept her relevant online. But really, this new album has been a big deal in her career since she has been off the grid musically for a long time, and many people didn’t know when, or if, she would be releasing music again. There were even rumors that she retired, or is retiring from music altogether.

When speaking on how releasing music has negatively affected her she said, “I’m making the best album of my life for this next album and I know that, because it’s going to be my last album.” ‘SOS’ was the last album she had been referring to, setting the standards high and the audience eagerly waiting on its release.

This album is a very unique one musically, and artistically, considering her previous label as an R&B only artist; she has definitely expanded on that and added a variety of rap and pop songs to this album.

The songs “Kill Bill”, “Conceited”, and “Seek & Destroy” all explored an upbeat pop side to her, which is a fun one to see because her music is usually very beautiful in more sad or quiet ways, while these were more bold and bouncy.

I also was so excited about her expansion on her rap side with the songs “Low”, “Smoking on my Ex Pack”, and “SOS” which were fun and very singable. She doesn’t get enough credit for her plays on words which were shown off in those songs, and many others on this album.

I thought expanding on her skills, and also keeping some R&B songs that she’s known and loved for, like “I Hate U” and “Blind” was genius because it caters to many different needs fans might have had for this album.

Side by side of the album cover and its inspiration from Daily Mail

Another interesting detail about the album is its cover; in the cover photo, SZA is sitting on the edge of a diving board over an ocean as seen in a similar photo of the late Princess Diana, who was photographed sitting on the edge of the diving board on Mohamed Al Fayed’s Jonikal yacht. The photo was taken in 1997, before her death. When asked about the resemblance between the two photos, SZA said, “I just loved how isolated she felt, and that was what I wanted to convey the most”. This unique attention to detail in every aspect of her album is something key to understanding the type of artist that SZA really is.

I rate it a full 5/5 because the songs were all so good and special, and music aside, it spoke volumes about her as an artist and as a person and I’m excited to see where her musical journey will take her in the future.

Teri McKeever investigation

By: Mia David

In May of 2022, the University of California- Berkeley started an ongoing investigation, and coach Teri McKeever was sent on administrative leave. McKeever is under investigation for verbal and emotional abuse and promoting a toxic culture on the University of California- Berkeley women’s swim team.

A report from the Orange County Register was published with interviews from 19 female swimmers, 1 swimmer from the men’s team, and 6 parents. The report claimed that she has been abusing swimmers for decades now.

Teri McKeever is known as the first female to be the head coach of an Olympic team in the 2012 London Olympics. She has coached the Cal team to 4 NCAA championships and has won the Pac-12 coach of the year award 9 times.

The investigation has lasted longer than anyone expected it to. The athletic director at Berkeley released a statement when the investigation started saying it should last no more than 6 months. However, the investigation has lasted almost 9 months at this point.

McKeever’s lawyer has raised the question of whether or not Dave Burden (Berkeley’s head coach for the men’s team) also acts the way McKeever is being accused of acting. He has claimed that McKeever’s coaching offended people because she is a woman, and they expect her to be more kind and motherly than a men’s coach.

According to Swim Swam News, when asked about the name-calling and bullying of swimmers, McKeever’s lawyer claimed they misunderstood what she was saying.

Over the past couple of months, multiple former swimmers and coaches have sent letters to Berkeley to support Teri McKeever. Many coaches have expressed that this is simply gender bias and that the girls targeting McKeever are looking for attention.

According to Swim Swam News, a former coach from Princeton, Susan Teeter, said, “As a women’s coach, I have seen years of immature athletes who take on the role of ‘mean girls’ and become toxic and hateful, which is what I believe we have on our hands right now.”

People have expressed that the problem is not McKeever, but it is, in fact, an administrative problem. It is unlikely that Berkeley will address an administrative issue right now. Still, they have hired a law firm to investigate McKeever. Dave Durden has been coaching the men’s team but has overtaken both teams in McKeever’s absence.