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SZA Says She's Only Labeled 'R&B' Because She's Black: 'It's Almost a Little Reductive'

SZA has always played around with various genres in her music, particularly on 2022's SOS, and she believes she's often reduced to being only an R&B artist because she's Black.

via: Hot97

In a recent interview with Dazed, the 34-year-old star opened up about her public image and how she’s been marketed in ways that don’t accurately represent her work.

“The only reason I’m defined as an R&B artist is because I’m Black,” she stated, expressing frustration at being pigeonholed. “It’s almost a little reductive because it doesn’t allow space to be anything else or try anything else.”

She pointed out the contrast with how artists like Justin Bieber, despite dabbling in various genres, aren’t boxed into one category. “I simply just want to be allowed the same opportunity to make whatever I want without a label, [without it being] based on the color of my skin, or the crew that I run with, or the beats that I choose,” she emphasized.

Despite her concerns about industry labels, SZA remains focused on her music and the creative process. “At the same time, it’s nothing to get bent out of shape about, because it’s just how people are processing you,” she reflected. “As long as I don’t process myself that way. I don’t necessarily box myself into anything. I’m just trying to make music, trying to vibe out and enjoy the experience.”

While she grapples with industry perceptions, SZA remains grateful for her fans’ unwavering support. Recently, she expressed appreciation for their recognition of the song “Snooze,” a track she initially overlooked but has since grown to love. The song’s success, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and winning Best R&B Song at the 2024 Grammy Awards, reflects her enduring impact and talent beyond any genre labels.

I'm not a big fan of SZA's music, but she's absolutely correct. The industry is always labeling artists who are black that take a more alternative approach to their music as "R&B."

Black musicians have always experimented with genres, and the industry has always tried to put them in a box. This is why I love that the newer generations aren't getting so caught up in labels and categories.

This is why I also love what Beyonce is doing. She's using her powers as a mainstream artist to push boundaries and challenge "industry norms."

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