“Mirror, mirror on the wall. Don’t say it, ’cause I know I’m cute,” are the opening lines of Melissa Jefferson aka Lizzo’s hit song Juice – and we have to agree with this rising singer and rapper.
If you didn’t know already, Lizzo is having a pretty good 2019, from her single Juice climbing the charts for the first time to the imminent release of her third full-length album, Cuz I Love You, in April. She’s on magazine covers, she’s invited to perform on Ellen and she’s selling out international venues within minutes. Her year is just getting started, but she’s on her way to becoming a household name.
But this palpable buzz has been years in the making. The 30-year-old artist released her debut album, Lizzobangers, in 2013 and has been building her fanbase ever since.
The real shift came with her debut solo EP Coconut Oil, which had a completely different sound to her previous releases. The highly successful 2016 project focused on her now-consistent themes of body positivity, self-worth and upliftment.
The EP spawned hits like Good as Hell and Worship, which both have a throwback soul sound that’ll have you singing along after just one listen.
Lizzo isn’t going anywhere, and the road to her particular brand of L music is catchy, delightful and a breath of fresh air in a very harsh world.
PART ONE (Representation)
Along this journey to rising success, Lizzo hasn’t stayed quiet about her struggles in the music industry. Her music spans a few genres, she’s a bigger, visibly black woman in an industry that has always catered to a specific market. The music business isn’t one that has historically allowed for a lot of diversity, but Lizzo can’t be put into a box or sold to just one kind of audience.
Her live performances are high energy and feature back-up dancers with different body sizes than your “usual” slim professional dancer. Lizzo is very much in charge of her narrative and her overall aesthetic. The message is clear: this is how I want to be represented.
In her cover interview with Allure, she says, “I wear black hair. It’s important [for me] to do that because black women representing black things makes a bigger mark. We’re going to represent for us, by us”.
Although change is long overdue, we’re seeing rappers like fellow African-American artist CupcakKe bringing their voices to the table in a way that’s not been done before, and thanks to social media, we’re able to see more marginalised voices and performers from around the world.
I discovered Lizzo through her Twitter video clips in which she auditioned for the part of Ursula from Disney’s The Little Mermaid. She’s had viral videos like “Flute and Shoot” showing her musical capabilities and her awesome dancing skills (really!).
She’s garnered a hungry fanbase who love her boldness, tenderness and catchy lyrics that centre looking after yourself. If you take a look across the internet (particularly Twitter), you’ll see that Lizzo’s fans come from vastly different backgrounds, don’t have a set age group and all love the hell out of her.
Lizzo is unapologetically herself, but also incredibly likable – and her timing is perfect in a world that’s feeling a little hopeless. It’s clear that she’s very comfortable with who she is, but also that it took a lot of work to get to that place, a very relatable millennial feeling.
Image courtesy of Lizzo via Allure Magazine
“Why men great till they gotta be great?” – another poignant line from Truth Hurts, a single Lizzo released in 2017. Her critique of how past lovers have treated her, and the honesty around how hard relationships can be as a woman with her politics is eerily relatable if you’re a single woman. In 2019, people want to support artists who share their political views and who don’t keep quiet about inequality and discrimination.
Her intersectional feminism is a common thread in her discography and visuals, whether she’s clad in a wedding dress, wearing workout tights or hanging out in the salon with her friends. And that’s the key: she feels like a friend, but also mirrors a lot of what her peer group is going through.
PART TWO (What To Expect From Juice and Her Newest Album)
But why should you be listening to Lizzo? If you appreciate retro aesthetics and a sense of humour, the music video for “Juice” will brighten up your day. Lizzo and her backup performers serve up some Jane Fonda 80s realness, slinky leotard and legwarmers included. A throwback groove that’s the perfect way to start the morning or a party with friends.
The title for her upcoming album and second single release, Cuz I Love, is a departure from all her previous visuals. Shot in moody black and white, Lizzo is surrounded by men in varying states of sadness. She puts those powerhouse vocals to use and sings frankly about love, loss and rejection.
CONCLUSION (Why We Love Her)
I personally found Lizzo’s music during a particularly tough time in my life, and her candid tunes were the soundtrack I didn’t know I needed. I sang along to her discography and I cried because she made me so damn happy. She was my ray of sunshine in a time when I didn’t think things were okay.
Her message is clear: she loves herself and just wants her supportive fans to do the same for themselves.
So climb on board, get your legwarmers out and have a bit of fun. We’re feeling Good as Hell around here.