Who is Lizzo? That's what I thought to myself when I first heard "Boys" on one of my weekly Discover playlists on Spotify. Who is this upbeat angel, harmonizing about the men she prefers over poppy, disco-esque guitar riffs? Why haven't I heard her before? Melissa Jefferson, as she is known by her friends and family, is simply put, an icon. Throughout her childhood in Houston, she created musical microcosms, tiny girl groups she led with her friends at her side. In 2013, she released Lizzobangers. In 2015, we were introduced to Big Grrrl Small World. She treated us to numerous singles, "Boys" among them, and performed a cover of the Bee Gee's 1977 smash hit "Stayin' Alive" for the release of Happy Death Day 2 U in the beginning of this year. And now, finally, she released Cuz I Love You through Atlantic Records on April 19th. And it was a gift from the gods.
"Cuz I Love You" opens the album of the same name as bombastically as Lizzo presents herself to the world, with big band chords backing her soulful exclamation that "I'm cryin' / 'cause I ʟᴏOᴏOᴏOOᴏᴠᴇ you". The album soon progresses to tell a story of self-love inspired by many of the music industry's finest; "Cry Baby" and "Tempo" are so reminiscent of Prince songs one can imagine The Artist Formerly Known As himself rising to congratulate her, and "Heaven Help Me" powerfully nods at Aretha Franklin's hits, with Lizzo's bombastic voice accompanied by Sasha Flute. It's clear Lizzo did her homework on musical legends of the past.
Though this is her third album, Cuz I Love You is Lizzo's first major label debut, and she continues to maintain herself not only as a force on the music scene of 2019, but as a master of cross-genre art. Singles like "Juice" and "Better in Color" are perfect for any girl's night jam session, while the sexy, drum-heavy "Lingerie" fits the mood of any late night encounters in the bedroom. She features several other artists on a few tracks– Gucci Mane on "Exactly How I Feel", a sparkly, punchy track that may depend a bit too much on referencing its title in the chorus, and Missy Elliott on the guitar-heavy, Prince-alluding "Tempo"– yet she never once depends on them to make a song. If anything, these stars are the cherry on top of her music, accentuating the Lizzo-ness of each song, perfectly chosen to feature on each of them; a song with a chorus that so boldly proclaims "slow songs, they for skinny hoes [...] I'm a thick bitch, I need tempo" could only ever feature someone like Misdemeanor herself anyway.
Cuz I Love You is an album that does exactly what such an album is meant to do. It lets Lizzo get her feet wet, allows her to get her foot in the door of the industry; it allows her to proclaim herself a genre-bending talent, a rapper, a singer, a flautist, an unabashed feminist, a dancer, a woman. When I first heard Lizzo ring through my laptop speakers, I was blown away at the talent that I personally hadn't heard until then. At times, it is almost overbearing to listen to– such a bold statement of self-love and loud beats, with seamless polyphonic segues into each track can be a bit much. But never fear, Lizzo; with this album of yours, everyone's gonna know your name.