With a new album from Schoolboy Q, another LP expected from Kendrick Lamar, and a collaborative effort from the full Black Hippy crew, 2014 is looking to be L.A. label Top Dawg Entertainment’s year to shine. Yet even with its stable of game-changing MCs, there’s more to TDE than gangsta rap. Enter: SZA, a New Jersey singer whose songs blur genre lines from ‘80s New Wave to ethereal pop. We caught up with the artist (pronounced, Sizza, in case you were wondering) at a Los Angeles park while she was taking a break from her upcoming album Z
. ("This is literally the hardest thing I've ever spent time on in my whole life," she says of the album.) Over the course of our conversation, we touch on her effortless style, what she’s learned from her fellow Top Dawg artists, and the troubling racial implications of being labeled an "R&B artist."
Photographed by Yoshino