Cuz I Love You (released April 19, 2019)
Here’s today’s advice for my couples out there.
Listen. To. Your. Spouse.
For year now, my wife has been a massive fan of Lizzo, the flamboyant, musical genre-fluid singer/rapper/actor, after stumbling upon her Coconut Oil EP circa 2016. And as much as wifey sang Lizzo’s praises – from her unabashed honesty in her lyrics to her incredible stage presence – I never paid too much attention, outside of half-hearing a few songs in passing.
That is, until, “Juice” caught my ears.
The high-energy single (and wild visuals) bursts with 80s nostalgia while boasting better punchlines than your favorite mumble rapper (“No, I’m not a snack at all/I’m the whole damn meal/David, you ain’t bein’ slick/Don’t dare try to cop a feel”). If there’s a better single in 2019, I haven’t heard it yet.
Meanwhile, wifey’s over here like
Better late than never, I guess.
Cuz I Love You, Lizzo’s third studio album, has all the makings of 2019’s biggest breakout hit.
Timing is everything, and it’s the right time and right climate for Lizzo’s brand of empowerment.
The album-opening title track proves that Lizzo ain’t holding nothing back. It’s easy to chuckle at her goofy lyrics (“Once upon a time, I was a ho/I don’t even wanna ho no mo’’) but her vocal prowess is no laughing matter. Backed by big band production, her gargantuan vocals absolutely steal the show. It sounds like the hood on Broadway.
While the first track may feature Lizzo dangerously in love, the rest of the album is all about loving herself. Cuz I Love You soars when Lizzo uses her boundless creativity to transcend the typical girl-power narratives. “Like a Girl” flips the dumb “you throw/run like a girl” trope on its head and piledrives it into the cement, proclaiming “If you feel like a girl, then you real like a girl.”
“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,” Lizzo boasts, while shouting out soul sistas like TLC and Lauryn Hill in the process.
Lizzo brings out the flamethrower for poor “Jerome,” prolly the ashy little brother of Badu’s Tyrone. “Jerome, Jerome, go on, take your a** home … Can’t let a pretty face distract me from business.” She ain’t wrong. “Better In Color” is a shoutout interracial relationships while “Exactly How I Feel” is a proclamation of staying true to self. “I look pretty crying,” Lizzo says, proving she ALWAYS gets the last word.
And that’s why Cuz I Love You works so well. Lizzo’s too busy partying to be preachy. She’s not beating you over the head with her messages, she’s dragging you to the dance floor to twerk some sense into you.
No better example of that is “Tempo,” which features Missy Elliott in the most obvious partnership we never knew we needed. The body positive, bass-rattling track is right out of Missy’s playbook and is all about losing your inhibitions.
If people are staring, let ’em stare.
Lizzo’s not new to this, but Cuz I Love You deserves to be the album that puts her on the map. Few can tear down the club while tearing down the patriarchy at the same time.
But, of course, my wife already knew that.
Best tracks: “Juice,” “Tempo,” “Like a Girl”
4 stars out of 5