A few hours before Dinah Jane dropped her latest single, "SZNS," she had all the nerves of an expectant mother.
"Every time I drop a song it feels like I'm giving birth to a new child," the 22-year-old told MTV News over the phone. "It's just exciting every time."
It's especially exciting when the song in question is one that's been tucked away in a vault for a whole year. Dinah recorded "SZNS" last summer, but decided to put it on the backburner while launching her solo career with "Bottled Up," a flirty, frothy bop featuring Ty Dolla $ign and Marc E. Bassy that made for a strong debut. Now that another summer has rolled around, though, she's happy to soundtrack another season (er, SZN) of love.
"You know, for the little lovebirds that are about to head into cuffing season," she laughed.
The wait was worth it — "SZNS," which dropped on Friday (July 26), is a delightfully optimistic love song about a relationship that's strong enough to weather any storm. "Summer through the winter, we been through it / Might fall, but spring back to it," Dinah sings over the sunny beat. Throughout the song, she's joined by A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, and the two sporadically trade lines and bounce off each other in a way that breaks the traditional formula of a collaboration, wherein two artists deliver separate, solo verses. The result is a duet that sounds refreshingly natural and fun; take, for instance, the first verse, where Dinah and A Boogie playfully interpolate Cam'ron's "Hey Ma." That throwback hit was a major inspiration for "SZNS," as was Nelly and Kelly Rowland's "Dilemma."
"Those kind of songs stood out to me as a kid. I noticed that they didn't have a formula and they kind of just went with the vibe," Dinah said. "There was never anything like, 'She goes here, and then he comes, and then she comes, and then he goes.' I feel like that gets played out. I love that we're all over the place and we're not just a stick version of a song."
"SZNS" was always planned to be a duet, but the original version featured just Dinah with a male demo singer. When it came time to find another artist to hop on the track, Dinah's team was adamant about A Boogie, and Dinah, a longtime fan of the New York rapper, was immediately on board.
"We put him on and his lyrics really spoke to me," she said. "It was just so raw, real, and 100 percent vulnerable. He said some really dope things. My favorite line from him is, 'I want to be in love but I don't have a heart no more.' I was like, OK, he's hitting me with the lyrics!"
Besides "Hey Ma," Dinah name-checked Tupac's "Thugz Mansion" as another sonic inspiration for "SZNS." Vitally, her throwback influences also informed the song's romantic, mood-setting violin intro — she wanted to pay homage to the records she grew up on that featured instrumental intros, like Mariah Carey's "Always Be My Baby." But even though her music takes heavy cues from the '90s and early-aughts, she contends that that's simply where her heart lies.
"I just fell into that lane. I wanted to create music that I'd want to cover," she explained. "There's so many 2000s songs that I wanted to cover as a kid, and if that's the case, then why not make it yourself?
"I'm happy that it's heading into its own lane," she continued, discussing her solo output thus far. "That's what I was afraid of when I first started making music — I was afraid that it wouldn't sound like anything on the radio or any other artist's music that's popular right now. But, you know, I'm just doing my own thing. I don't want to follow the trends. I'm here to make music that makes me happy and that moves me."
"SZNS" follows the release of Dinah's eponymous three-track bundle in April, which showcased her creative growth with the confident "Heard It All Before," moody "Pass Me By," and confessional "Fix It." A full-length album will come in due time, she says, but only when she's "100 percent ready." For now, she plans to release more music later this year, teasing that fans are "in for one hell of a ride." But before that, she's got a "SZNS" music video to brainstorm, and maybe a bit of choreography to go along with it.
"I kind of wish 'SZNS' was a twerking song because I would totally go off," she laughed, before reconsidering. "Maybe I will. I'll just make it work."