Chances are that you’re already aware of Lizzo as a household name because of the sheer dominance of her song, “Truth Hurts”, which spent seven weeks in the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100. What you may not know is that the song was released as a single nearly two years prior, and is technically a bonus track on her third album, Cuz I Love You. On this fact alone, she’s in her own stratosphere. we’re still catching up to her and her immense talent even in a time where music comes and goes at breakneck speed.
It’s not hard to see why. The singer, born Melissa Jefferson, creates music that alternately renders you speechless and then keeps you moving forever. Sometimes that’s in the same song. Take the album’s title track, where it starts with a world-conquering acapella of the song’s title, before dropping into a dramatic orchestral crash, then careening into a piano jaunt that Lizzo starts rapping over before the orchestra comes in for the chorus, she belts it out again, and repeat. She raps about complicated emotions, well, rather bluntly: “Never been in love before / What the f*ck are fucking feelings, yo?” The seamless melding of styles in one track feels thrilling.
Then, of course, comes “Juice”, the best slice of flange-funk this year. The irresistible bounce is tempered by steel drums, processed horns, and an unforgettable ‘ya ya’ refrain. It’d make certain purple fellow Minneapolitan proud if he were around to hear it. “Soulmate” is an awesome ode to loving yourself. “Tempo” flips the script entirely, a pure trap beat featuring a knockout guest spot by a true trailblazer: Missy Elliott. The sparse beat blows wide open when Missy arrives on the scene. The song, clearly about body positivity, shows what both artists have in common – tightly constructed beats, a willingness to play within the constructs of the song and an uncanny ability to radiate pure joy when it calls for it.
It’s really hard to judge Cuz I Love You simply on its merits. It’s great, of course. But to tell the truth, we’re in the middle of a Lizzo Renaissance, where the public is considering swaths of her catalog at one time versus exactly what the flavor of the moment is. That happens to exactly no one. Right now, there’s a remix of “Good as Hell” with Ariana Grande that was just released as a single. The original track is from 2016. It keeps happening! If anything, Cuz I Love You is a pure, unadulterated victory lap. It’s an excellent introduction, but use it as a launchpad to listen to everything she’s done. You won’t be disappointed.
- Brendan Hilliard, Obviate Media