SZA’s “Shirt” Ushers Us Into a New Era of Sustainability


SZA’s newest single, “Shirt,” captures her earlier magic while increasing the relatability of the lyrics. (Courtesy of Instagram)

Last week, SZA emerged from an extended two-year hiatus with a new single entitled “Shirt.” While taking this break on her solo career, the artist has released some songs as a feature. Some of her prominent features in the last year are “Kiss Me More” by Doja Cat and “No Love” by Summer Walker, in which her verses have produced some iconic music.   

“Shirt” already feels familiar because the fans were given a snippet of the song back in October 2020. Later in 2021, the snippet went viral on TikTok, with part of the song already being played more than 100,000 times even before the official release. The artist teased “Shirt” at the end of her last music video for the song “Good Day” in 2021. The song can hardly be considered new, but this release is still exciting and worth the wait.

This track displays SZA’s vocals that shine and pop over the heaviness of the bass. When played on a speaker, the listener can physically feel the intensity of this song, something which has not been seen before on her previous two albums. The vocals on this song also feel harsher when combined with the intense bass. The listener can feel the emotions she is portraying through the tone of her voice. In contrast to tracks like “Supermodel” and “Broken Clocks,” “Shirt” emphasizes a new tone of voice while maintaining the feel that is familiar to the fans. 

The lyrics in this new song give SZA the power of relatability. SZA is a perfect artist for an audience of women going through a breakup. Her lyrics are undeniably relatable to whoever is or has had their heart thrown around by someone. In her last studio album entitled “CTRL,” her lyrics shape the story of a woman who doesn’t understand why she isn’t good enough and wants to get through heartbreak. In her new song, the story develops. “Shirt” reveals that she is becoming more comfortable with her insecurities and shortcomings. A lyric from the pre-chorus reads: “In the dark right now / Feeling lost, but I like it.” SZA is open and vulnerable with her audience, which makes this song so refreshing to listen to. 

At points in the song, she does, however, double back into her old way of thinking. She talks about how she is “stressing perfection.” To a long-time listener, this song makes me feel like I am growing with her. Her ideas and perceptions are evolving, but she remains authentic, vulnerable and susceptible to falling back into her old ways.

Regardless of the lyrics, SZA stays relatable and honest with her fans on social media. In the year and a half that this song was being teased, her fans called it “Shirt” as the song did not yet have an official title. On Twitter, she announced that she would officially title her new song “Shirt” because her fans were doing it. She has been known to connect with her fans first to get their opinions on her latest releases. 

Essentially, SZA’s new song “Shirt” encapsulates what it means to be relatable in lyrics and musical production.