Lizzo has always had the juice. But now, thanks to her new album “Cuz I Love You,” the world knows it.
The Minnesota rapper first started bubbling into the mainstream’s consciousness with her “Coconut Oil” EP. Though it arrived in the fall of 2016, it served as a perfect anthem for the summer of 2017. It was a sassy, joyous self-care anthem that perfectly introduced the central message of Lizzo’s music.
After “Coconut Oil,” she released a couple singles throughout 2017 and 2018, including the braggadocious kiss-off “Truth Hurts,” which was recently featured in Netflix Original Movie “Someone Great.” Along the way you may have seen her twerking while playing the flute on social media. At the top of 2019 though, she released her slickest track yet.
“Juice” can easily be declared the first bop of 2019, arriving on streaming services Jan. 4. It is undeniably catchy and a quick vaccination for low self esteem. “Juice” feels equally nostalgic and modern. It rides the synth chords and sounds that instantly draw up imagery of leg warmers and neon bodysuits. But the slang, swag and sauce are thoroughly modern.
There is something about Lizzo’s vocal delivery that you can just fully picture her singing it in the booth. From the flippant giggles to the implied winks, it feels like every second of the song is completely her.
Her major label debut album, “Cuz I Love You,” feels like a complete portrait of Lizzo. The album has features from Missy Elliot and Gucci Mane, but Lizzo makes such a strong impression that they are quite forgettable. She gives you different emotions; she sings, she raps and she busts out her famous flute. And for all 37 minutes, she sounds like she is having a great time.
“Cuz I Love You” is probably one of the most fun records released in the past five years. There are no tracks that slow the vibe. Even the title track, which is about unrequited love, feels bubbly and joyous. It’s almost as if the class clown made a really dope mixtape. And in no way do the lyrics feel insincere nor does the temperament feel inappropriate. They just feel like Lizzo, the fun is just in her nature.
The album sounds like it was majorly influenced by the music of Prince, another musician delivered to us from the Land of 10,000 Lakes. “Cry Baby” especially feels like a forgotten cut from the “Purple Rain” sessions.
With the backing of a major label, Lizzo was able to get in the room with highly respected producers like Ricky Reed (“No” by Meghan Trainor, “Bad at Love” by Halsey) and Oak of Pop & Oak (“Here” by Alessia Cara, “Right By My Side” by Nicki Minaj and Chris Brown). There is also the production and writing from alternative rock duo X Ambassadors, a cross genre collaboration that works much better than you would think.
The standout tracks are definitely “Soulmate” and “Heaven Help Me.” “Soulmate” is another self-love track. It has a gentle synth in the verses, but ramps up to full New Orleans bounce beat for the chorus and break down. “Soulmate” is here for those mornings where you need to twerk in the mirror to really get started on the right foot.
“Heaven Help Me” was inspired by Aretha Franklin, and has an appropriate dose of soul to back it up. The song starts off as a tell off to a potential suitor, but transforms into a longing yearn for the same person. It is a song that is able to convey a wide range of emotions in a short period of time.
“Cuz I Love You” is surely only the start of Lizzo’s inevitably quick rise, so it’s a beginning that you shouldn’t miss. Lizzo has already sold out the first leg of her tour, including the upcoming show at The Theater of the Living Arts May 18. This week she announced an extension in the fall with bigger venues. She will be returning to Philadelphia to play at The Met Sept. 18.