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SZA Says New Album ‘S.O.S.’ Almost Featured More Artist Collaborations — But They Ghosted Her

SZA might be in the market for a new phone in the next couple of days, preferably one that flips closed and would probably malfunction if she tried to download any social media apps on it. The singer is warming up to escape the public response to her highly-anticipated sophomore album S.O.S., her first in over five years, as soon as possible following its release on Friday.

“Part of me doesn’t even want this to come out,” SZA shared in a recent interview with Hot 97. Still, there was a nervous excitement to the way she spoke about the songs included on the 23-track record, including a “super alternative and strange” collaboration with Phoebe Bridgers and a posthumous Ol’ Dirty Bastard verse.

“I don’t think it’s going to sound how people think it’s going to sound,” SZA shared about the former collaboration. “It’s super alternative and just strange, so we’ll see.” The song, titled “Ghost in the Machine,” is one of the few original collaborations on the album, joining cuts with Travis Scott and Don Toliver. SZA had initially anticipated more artists on the record but found that a lot of verses weren’t being sent back to her in time.

“For a lot of these people, I didn’t turn in my verse – so I can’t be too mad,” she explained of collaborators who ghosted her back. “But also, in the same token, it’s like, ‘Damn this sucks, I really needed you. I wish you showed up for me.’ But I’m sure they felt the same way for me.”

Scott showed up for her on “Open Arms,” and Toliver on “Used,” which is enough for her. “I really appreciate that he’s just a consistent friend in my life and really believes in me as an artist,” she shared of Toliver. “I’m grateful Phoebe showed up for me, I didn’t think she would come to the studio in person. She did, which is crazy. We laughed, it’s just hilarious.”

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SZA also didn’t expect to get the green light to use the Ol’ Dirty Bastard verse on the album’s closing track, “Forgiveness,” but ultimately didn’t have to pull too many strings to get clearance. “It was definitely like, ‘I doubt that this is going to be allowed to be on the album,’ but it surprisingly was,” she explained. “I talked to his estate. It really just came from a piece of documentary footage from Rodney Jerkins, and he was sweet enough to let me use that. [Ol’ Dirty Bastard] was freestyling in the back of the footage, so I took the audio.”

As far as collaborations go, with S.O.S. everything seems to have worked out exactly as it was meant to. Ideally, the general reception of the album will follow suit. “I just want what’s good,” SZA shared of selecting which songs would mark her grand return. “Or what tells a new side of me and isn’t redundant.”

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