Top Dawg Entertainment president Terrance “Punch” Henderson sat for an interview as part of Complex’s “Blueprint” series and discussed what led to the formation of his label, which he founded with his cousin Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith in 2004. In the exchange, Henderson provided additional background on T.D.E. signee SZA‘s infamous “I actually quit” tweet, a statement she made in October 2016 prior to the release of Ctrl.
When asked about the moment, Henderson chuckled and said, “She was going through a lot personally. She had some stuff going on with family or whatever. And we talking about the album and she was talking about her sound and hit records. I’m like, ‘Yo, you don’t have a sound yet, you don’t have hit records yet.’ She got hot. She didn’t like that. So immediately after we hung up, that’s the tweet that went out.”
He also explained how he discovered SZA, explaining she was assisting with merch sales at a T.D.E.-produced Kendrick Lamar show and a friend of hers was also there, listening to SZA on her headphones. When Henderson took a closer listen, he immediately was struck by her distinct voice and lyrical ability. “And then when I listened to her words, she attacked it as a lyricist,” he said. “Oh I know what that is. I know how to work with that.”
On an Instagram post expressing gratitude for Ctrl’s many awards and accolades, SZA filled in some additional background. “I️ BEGGED Punch for writers on this project cus I️ thought no one would ever like me the way I️ was,” she wrote. “He said ‘U don’t need em.’ I️ remember crying cus I️ didn’t have any hits or a quantifiable ‘sound.’ I️ remember feeling like damn maybe I suck, maybe I️ should try something else? Maybe I’m jus wasting space…life’s weird. I️ didn’t have any friends growing up, never gave my parents an opportunity to say ‘wow my kid’s killing it,’ didn’t graduate or do any fly shit before my nana died, been fired from every job I️ ever had.”
She added, “I remember sobbing on the phone w Punch pleading for the album not to come out cause I️ couldn’t take the embarrassment. Just wanted another week. Another day? He ignored me n said I’d be fine. This entire thing puts my wildest dreams to shame. I️ dunno what to say cause I️ dunno how to accept its even happening to me lol? I’ve never won anything in my life even until this week.”
Check out the exchange below along with SZA’s post on Instagram.
I remember pretending to be vegan cause that’s all I could afford lol (chips avocado n salad mix ) I remember sleeping on everyone’s couch cause I missed the train AGAIN (thank yall for having me lol ) . Sold my beloved 500$ grillz for 50 bucks at the gold shop for train fair( I was SICK 😩 lol ). I BEGGED Punch for writers on this project cus I thought no one would ever like me the way I was . He said “U don’t need em”. I remember crying cus I didn’t have any hits or a quantifiable “sound”.. I remember feeling like damn maybe I suck . maybe I should try something else ? Maybe I’m jus wasting space ..Life’s weird . I Didn’t have any friends growing up. never gave my parents an opportunity to say “wow my kids killing it” didn’t graduate or do any fly shit before my nana died . been fired from every job I ever had ..I remember sobbing on the phone w punch pleading for the album not to come out cause I couldn’t take the embarrassment . Just wanted another week . Another day ?..he ignored me n said I’d be fine…This entire thing puts my wildest dreams to shame. I dunno what to say cause I dunno how to accept its even happening to me lol ? I’ve never won anything in my life even until this week (THANK YOU SOULTRAIN AWARDS!!) it all just feels strange somehow BUT IM SO OVERWHELMINGLY GRATEFUL FOR THIS STRANGENESS!! . I’m so in awe of Gods plan.. I just wanna live up to it. Thank you for listening to me.. thank you for understanding me.. thank u for bonding w my thoughts just the way they were. INFINITE GRATITUDE to the Recording Academy for this INCREDIBLE honor. I can’t even believe I’ve been considered. God bless every person who worked on this album or gave it an ear (specially the producers of the century @somethingnebula @iam_c_lang @thankgod4cody 💜) . Thank you Top and Punch for believing in me no matter what (even when I’m on your LAST nerves😊) . Thank u RCA for giving me new wings🙏🏾 THANK YOU GOD FOR THIS LIFE I DONT UNDERSTAND . #Ctrl.. a concept . #mygrannynominatedfor5grammys #TDE