Spell It Out

The meaning behind SZA’s name surprises fans with its many layers

SZA may have become a household name, but how many of her legions of fans know the meaning behind that name? In a recent interview, SZA broke down the acronym, and it might come as no surprise that her name foregrounds her personal history and spirituality.

SZA appeared on a March 9 episode of the podcast SHE MD where she discussed a wide array of personal and health topics, from her creative process to her family’s history of breast cancer risk. In a now viral TikTok clip shared on Wednesday, the singer-songwriter opened up about the story of her artist persona.


The Meaning Behind SZA: Self-Sovereignty, Zigzag, Allah Discover the origins of SZA’s name and the deep symbolism behind each letter in the acronym. Learn about self-sovereignty, enlightenment, and the divine connection behind this powerful artist’s identity. #SZAOrigins #MeaningBehindSZA #SelfSovereignty #ZigzagEnlightenment #DivineConnection #SymbolicName #MusicArtist #IdentityExploration #Spirituality #PowerfulArt

♬ original sound – shemdpodclips

“Solána Imani Rowe is my entire name,” she began. “SZA is an acronym derived from the Divine Alphabet. If you’re familiar with Wu-Tang or anything like that, A Five Percenter, it’s an older ideology where each letter stands for different ideologies.”

Five Percenter is a reference to SZA’s particular Muslim upbringing. Five Percenters use the Supreme Alphabet, which provides guidance for reading texts from the Nation of Islam by giving meaning to each letter.

“So S stands for self-sovereignty, like sovereignty of one’s self and savior for one’s self,” she explained. “Z stands for zigzag, which is like enlightenment of oneself. And then A stands for Allah or God or whatever you consider the most high.”

Although she didn’t delve into the Wu-Tang connection, the acronym is also an homage to Wu-Tang members RZA and GZA.

While SZA has shared the meaning of her name in the past, the viral clip is introducing a new crop of fans to the artist’s story.

“Her name is so beautiful!” replied one viewer.

“True fans been knowing,” said another.

Even as SZA now intertwines her faith with her public persona, the road to get there was not always easy. In previous interviews, she’s described the bullying and harassment she endured in the wake of 9/11 and the shame that resulted.

“Somewhere around the 7th grade, when 9/11 happened, sh*t got weird and awkward,” SZA told Complex. “I was attacked at school and taunted. It got really uncomfortable and I started to get embarrassed. My dad’s mosque came under fire, it was a bad time. I just wanted to be regular. At school, I wanted to fit in so I would take my hijab off.”

Now, she publicly embraces her faith. “It’s like the belief in one God, all the pillars of Islam et cetera, and I think those are ideas that will never leave me, those make sense in my spirit,” SZA told HOT 97. “It’s the way that I connect with God; it has always made sense to me.”

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