Cuz I Love You
Buy Here | Listen Below
When I think of Detroit, I think of music and the many legendary names associated with the “Motor City.” Names like the legendary Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Anita Baker, Mary Wells, Martha & The Vandellas, DeBarge, and the list goes on and on. One name that can now sit firmly amongst this list of incredible musical peers is the unapologetic, one-of-a-kind, you can’t and won’t define her, Lizzo.
Melissa Viviane Jefferson a.k.a. Lizzo first graced our ears when she fronted indie hip-hop bands such as The Chalice, Grrrl Prty, The Clerb, Ellypseas, and Absynthe. Although most won’t immediately recognize these groups, they did manage to capture the attention of TGNP (Totally Gross National Product) who quickly signed Lizzo, with her debut LP Lizzobangers following soon afterwards in late 2013.
Although commercial success didn’t attach itself to Lizzobangers, critics alike praised the Detroit native, allowing her to create her 2015 sophomore LP Big Grrrl Small World. It was this album that gave us the song “My Skin,” the body positivity anthem that arrived well before its time, ultimately paving the way for the movement she is now being somewhat credited for via her third album, the recently released Cuz I Love You.
Cuz I Love You seems to have assumed the label “pop,” and yet the title track completely dispels that assumption within the song’s first 10 seconds, as Lizzo demonstrates the power of her voice by belting out “I’m crying / cause I love you.” Instantaneously the depth and crispness that exude from these six words set the tone for a new kind of vocal prowess not normally associated with Lizzo. It’s also in this title track that you fully understand that throughout the creation of this album, inspiration has been drawn from Aretha Franklin and her 1967 release I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, something Lizzo herself has sporadically spoken of.
For many, Lizzo is so much more than just a “pop star,” she is a young woman owning everything about herself and demanding that we all do the same. In “Like A Girl,” the album’s second track, Lizzo tells us “Woke up feelin' like I just might run for President / Even if there ain't no precedent / switchin' up the messaging / I'm about to add a little estrogen,” reminding us that the message in her music is not vacuous. Far from it in fact, she has a cause and that cause is female empowerment.
All eleven songs on the album were co-written by Lizzo, making the overall sentiment of empowerment not just a hashtag for 2019, but something far more personal and one that rings true to her very core. “Juice" and “Soulmate” speak of loving yourself and in the mild ode to love, “Jerome,” Lizzo makes sure that again, we know that loving yourself comes above all else. Even the last track on the album, “Lingerie,” a hyper-sensual, almost desperate cry for attention, has a catchy, if not slightly tacky element, something we can all relate to at some point in our dating lives when we are craving the attention of that special someone.
Whilst the day oners (fans from day one) whose love of hip-hop may have them feeling left out on this heavy soul-infused album, rest assured that Lizzo hasn’t strayed too far from her hip-hop roots. The album’s only two collaborations—Gucci Mane on “Exactly How I Feel” and the legendary Missy Elliott on “Tempo"—may be relatively short on the hip-hop vibe, but listening to the two emcees deliver their verses in trade-offs with Lizzo cures any hip-hop yearning that may persist.
To say that Lizzo has finally “arrived,” would be to discredit her past music, something that just simply can’t be done. A better option here would be to say that Lizzo has delivered an album heavy on self-love, body positivity and an overall sense of belonging for all those that want to listen. Her message throughout is clear and concise: love yourself. And given that many in society have been feeling displaced recently, Lizzo’s message is not just musical or political, it’s crucial. Hers is a voice for many, many that have not had a voice for the longest time.
Notable Tracks: "Cuz I Love You" | “Juice” | "Like A Girl" | “Tempo”