Lizzo Is Confident and Charismatic on Empowered ‘Cuz I Love You’
Rapper, singer, songwriter Lizzo has spiraled through an impressive slew of groups over the years, putting out sounds that have infused a fresh spark into the contemporary hip-hop scene. When it comes to her singing, Lizzo truly shines, and her latest album, “Cuz I Love You” shows Lizzo at her best. The album’s striking cover art, featuring Lizzo posing nude, should give an idea of what to expect, as the album runs as the very sound of unhindered proud confidence.
The titular track begins with an epic bellow before crashing guitars enter for a short segment, turning things in a flash from gospel to arena rock aesthetics. It loosens up into funkier, playful fare, and circles back a few times. By the end, Lizzo has shown such singing chops that anyone reasonable will know instantly that this a standout artist. Next, on “Like a Girl” she adopts a playful intonation style with traces of old school hip-hop, then erupts into unhinged bluesy diva style. At the last minute, Lizzo laughs and mentions that she didn’t know the song was about to end. The choice to leave this little bit in is especially striking because its informality contrasts so sharply with the flawless, painstaking execution of the music. It seems Lizzo can just snap in and out of professionalism like it’s no thing.
“Juice” takes a surprising turn, suddenly going decidedly ‘80s in its musical stylings. Lyrically, it’s a brazenly flirty song, full of unabashed sexual language. Lizzo seems to have no lack of confidence, which gets more apparent yet on the next song “Soulmate,” which features the line “I’ma marry me one day,” with the “me” seriously emphasized. After bursts of energy, Lizzo segues elegantly into a laid back, more restrained blues act on “Jerome,” essentially a turn down number, telling off the titular character. The bits that make much of the difference are the little unique mannerism that Lizzo drops here and there, like quick squeals and howls.
Then “Cry Baby” brings in ebullient horns as well as a vaguely Southern rock character, matched by the twang and loose spirit that Lizzo has been exuding all along. There are guitar heroics and bombast before a dramatic change of pace on “Tempo,” which launches into full hip-hop, and features none other than Missy Elliot. It’s classic Missy, and a collaboration that makes perfect sense, considering Missy’s and Lizzo’s shared embrace of unconventional body image, and fearless flaunting.”Exactly How I Feel” runs a bit like a condensation of everything so far, with festive hits of horn blasts, soulful bellowing, and this time an appearance by Gucci Mane, who steps out of his standard trap aesthetic, showing an impressive versatility, and spars with Lizzo with perfect chemistry.
“Better in Color” is a delightfully garish riot with showy guitars, more unhinged howling, and all the works, as well as the particularly memorable line, “Love Looks Better in Color.” On “Heaven Help Me,” Lizzo takes what would expectedly be a sound of despair, judging from the title, but manages to turn it on its head entirely, running through her lines in a way that’s at once frenetic and poised, and making the titular cry seem joyous. The final track, “Lingerie,” is an appropriately climactic ending, with booming, beaming vocals that bring all the attitude and verve running through the record to new heights.
Lizzo is a lady who can really sing, and shows it on this record. Listeners that are especially attune to details are often able to pick up subtles insecurities in even the best singers, and these insecurities are strikingly completely absent throughout this recording. Lizzo fleshes out a mix of Soul, Southern Rock and Hip-Hop in a package full of personality, and a consistent playful positivity that gives a one in a kind charm.
“Cuz I Love You” is available April 19 on Apple Music.