In 2014, flautist/singer/rapper Lizzo stormed onto the scene with the aptly named Lizzobangers and no one batted an eye. Not even with the hypnotically fun ‘Batches & Cookies’, or my personal favourite – the sharp and speedy ‘Pants vs. Dress’. In fact, Lizzo has been bringing out a steady stream of thunderously good music since Lizzobangers without any major breakthrough; not even a stint on Vogue’s YouTube channel promoting her catchy 2016 EP Coconut Oil did much to make her a household name.
This is not me being that eye-roll inducing music writer who gloats about how they discovered so-and-so before everyone else. I understood that my desire for Lizzo to break into the mainstream instantaneously was wildly unrealistic; it is, after all, quite rare to become a star instantly. But it’s the perfect opportunity to point out that Lizzo’s discography has been widely ignored up until this point.
With its thundering, soul-clenching brass instrumentation, she is both emotionally raw with powerful, sturdy vocals
So the second I heard the single ‘Juice’ back in January, a precursory track to her third full-length album Cuz I Love You, I quietly name-dropped her in every group chat I was in, unwilling to let Lizzo fly under the radar once again. The song itself is brilliant with pure Nile Rodgers vibes and infallible self-assurance and has since become a stalwart at every social gathering I’ve been to this year. It goes without saying that Lizzo’s latest album has been one of my most anticipated albums of the year.
And boy, was it worth the anticipation. From the opening track, eponymously named ‘Cuz I Love You’, Lizzo introduces herself as a true melodrama. With its thundering, soul-clenching brass instrumentation, she is both emotionally raw with powerful, sturdy vocals as she wails that she’s “crying cuz I love you” before going into humorously frank verses about how bizarre it is to be in love and to have this emotional turmoil before we are magnetically drawn back to that melodramatic chorus. It’s a song that very much sets the precedent of the album with all its theatre, humour, self-love, and sheer talent.
she is a tour-de-force with vibrant, yelping lyrics, filled with fun and flare
We move into the exceptionally fun ‘Like A Girl’ where Lizzo asserts her dominance as a woman as she raps that the “only exes that I care about are in my f*ckin’ chromosomes” and that she’s got “nothin’ to prove”. The song is a true anthem for modern day women and Lizzo exudes confidence.
Throughout the entire album, she is a tour-de-force with vibrant, yelping lyrics, filled with fun and flare. But she thrives on ‘Tempo’, a song that excites with its juddering electronic beat, as Lizzo purrs that “slow songs they for skinny h*es” and demands that all plus-sized women “f*ck it up to the tempo”. The Missy Elliott feature is fitting but truly it is Lizzo who shines on the track as she is truly in her element as a plus-sized woman in rap pushing for self-love and bravado. Her flute-solo towards the end is especially hypnotic, another opportunity for her to showcase her many talents as she wails at the end for us to “run that sh*t back” as though her instrumental prowess deserves a replay. She’s not wrong.
there is a sense that Lizzo will stop at nothing until her message of self-love well and truly sinks in
While the album’s more intimate moments do not necessarily stand out on first listen, songs like ‘Jerome’ and ‘Lingerie’ arguably take a more interesting narrative focus; as Lizzo once said in an interview with Exclaim! : “Big women are pursued for relationships, big women deal with f*ckboys, big women are beautiful and loving creatures, and it’s just not talked about because it’s not the story that mainstream media chooses to tell.” ‘Lingerie’ is especially interesting as the final song; sultry, ever so slightly more stripped down, it is a track engrossed in sex. If the entire album is a call for self-love, then ‘Lingerie’ is a call for acknowledgement in a world which often dismisses plus-sized women as sexual beings.
Cuz I Love You is overbearingly brilliant. Its production is polished and put-together, but there is a sense that Lizzo will stop at nothing until her message of self-love well and truly sinks in. While this sometimes risks feeling overwhelming, the multi-talented musician pulls it off brilliantly, like the diva she is.