R&B singer SZA has shared a new single titled “Shirt” — some two years after she first teased it, but promises that more than six years after her 2016 debut, “It’s album time baby. Y’all gonna get it all. New era starts now.” The song was released alongside a Dave Meyers-directed video depicting SZA and actor LaKeith Stanfield as a couple on a violent crime spree that nods to everything from the 1971 film “Shaft” to multiple Quentin Tarantino projects. The pair’s outlaw relationship also evokes genre classics like 1967’s “Bonnie and Clyde” and 1994’s “Natural Born Killers.”
Fair warning: It contains scenes of graphic violence.
The visual treatment follows the stars as they commit ruthless murders and wreak havoc on their town, and both the song and the video reference other movies, like 2001’s “Save the Last Dance.” (“I ain’t no Julia Stiles / This ain’t no ‘Last Dance’… Fuckin’ up my ex / ’cause he validate me,” SZA sings over airy strings.)
The new music video also marks the third time SZA has worked with Meyers, previously collaborating on visuals for “Drew Barrymore” (which featured a cameo from the track’s namesake) in 2017, and in 2018 alongside former TDE labelmate Kendrick Lamar for “All The Stars,” the resonant theme song for the first “Black Panther” movie. Stanfield, the “Atlanta” and “Judas and the Black Messiah” actor, has also previously worked with SZA on the visualizer for her late 2021 loose single “I Hate U.”
SZA’s adventures in acting will continue with her feature film debut for the upcoming “Tuna Melt” by Eddie Huang, which has been described as “an updated ‘Pulp Fiction’ meets ‘High Fidelity.'”
“Shirt” has floated around online in various forms in the past year, as the TDE artist first teased it on her Instagram Story in 2020, later following it up with a snippet on TikTok through a dance challenge back in January 2021. Videos using the snippet on the platform have amassed more than 145 million views since.
She also performed a preview of the song during a live performance for Grey Goose last July. SZA previously shared that Doja Cat would appear on “Shirt” at a festival stop this past summer, though the “Kiss Me More” artist does not appear on the released track.
Regarding her long-awaited sophomore major-label album, which is coming up on six years in the making following 2017’s “Ctrl,” SZA told Variety at the Grammys earlier this April that it was finally finished and on the way. “I just finished it up in Hawaii,” she said. “And it’s coming soon!” Asked for details on her next project, she said, “I think it’s my most unisex album. I think it’s for everyone.”
Although more recently, the singer has been more ambiguous about when the project would come, telling Complex earlier this month that she’s focused on creating her “ideal situation” for the new album’s release rather than cave to outside pressure to drop.
“I don’t have any deadlines because, at the end of the day, when my shit comes out, it comes out,” she said. “And if ever I lose my ability to choose, I have no problem vacating my current life and doing something different. I’m not glued to being an artist for the rest of my life or anything for that matter. I’m seeing where it takes me.”
SZA’s most recent musical guest appearance came in August, laying down vocals on DJ Khaled’s “Beautiful” alongside Future.