BY JT LUCAS
If there could only be one artist to save us all in 2019, it will be this body-positive, self-loving, tequila-drinking, flute-playing, breathtakingly-talented rapper and singer.
So there I am one morning, laying in bed chugging cold brew coffee straight from the jug, trying to wake up while half-watching the previous night’s Jimmy Fallon while half-glancing through my social media feeds. Suddenly, I’m jerked to attention by a line that will surely propel a career into super-stardom: “Hold up, Jimmy, please, don’t make me have to take your bitch!” I break away from my Insta-stories, and my first thought is “sparkly.” There’s Lizzo — fierce, confident and decked out like a disco ball — completely owning the stage and working her way into a standing ovation.
She promised that audience an “Ooooh, ahhhh sensation,” and I doubt there was a person out there who didn’t want to slide into her DMs when she was done. But there was a part of the whole performance that I did not like, when Jimmy Fallon claimed that Lizzo was one of his favorite new artists. Hold up, Jimmy, please, don’t make me have to educate you. Lizzo ain’t new. I would like to take a few minutes to explore this Big Grrrl thriving in this small world.
Lizzo, born Melissa Jefferson, describes her happiest childhood moments as blasting music in her bedroom, singing and performing along with full choreography. Her love of music was impossible to contain. In a Teen Vogue interview from last June, Lizzo states, “When I was in high school, I was a big girl with a cute face. So dudes liked me secretly, but they didn’t like me publicly. I never had a boyfriend because they didn’t want to claim me. So now in this industry, I’m a big girl with a cute face and some cute music and I’m still being liked secretly and not claimed publicly.” This seems to be a driving sentiment behind her loud proclamation of self-love and acceptance.
This also could be a valid statement on how, even though she was labeled by Time Magazine as an artist to watch all the way back in 2013 after her debut album Lizzobangers — which features the terminally infectious “Batches and Cookies” — shook the world, she still hasn’t been able to break into the level of stardom she clearly deserves. It’s hard to understand why 2013’s Lizzobangers and the even more refined 2015 follow-up Big Grrrl Small World did not receive their due accolades, since they both showcased a spit-fire energetic rapper who could serve you a hook that is actual literal fire.
Lizzo’s turning point was her 2016 Coconut Oil EP, her first release with a major label, Atlantic Records. The feel of this is much more deliberate than her prior offerings. While her rap chops are still displayed, her gospel background shines through, especially on songs like “Good as Hell” and “Scuse Me.” The “coconut oil” concept refers primarily to self- care, and in “Scuse Me,” she makes sure that you understand that she means to talk about even the naughtiest aspects of self-care.
From this point, she has just been releasing singles, and each one has been better than the last. She reminds us that she’s her own inspiration in “Water Me,” lifts heavy metal working on her “Fitness,” and proclaims her love of a wide range of “Boys.” Everything she releases serves as an unapologetic anthem for self-love and body positivity. When asked about this, she often refers to it as merely getting through life. She learned the importance of self-acceptance and wants the world to have as many self-love songs as there are love songs.
As many close calls as she’s had trying to break through on her career, “Juice” may be the one to actually do it. For starters, it’s geared to be her best-charting song to date. It’s an undeniably fun, feel-good song with smart lines like “No, I’m not a snack at all, look, baby, I’m the whole damn meal.” Play it before a big presentation at work or while getting dressed up for a hot night on the town for a much-needed shot of confidence. The song will be featured on the upcoming studio album Cuz I Love You, coming out April 19, which will also feature a collab with Missy Elliot. If I understand the terminology right, this will assuredly be dripping in Ragu.
Also, have you heard Lizzo play the flute? Because if not, go listen to her now — it will change your life for the better.
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