Cuz I Love You | Lizzo Review
Cover art: Hanna Mondala | @hmondala
If you’re like me you’ll remember Lizzo from her earlier days where she had fun singles like the super catchy ‘Batches and Cookies’ which was once available as a free download on iTunes – anyone else remember when that was a thing? Today most us know Lizzo as the flute-playing, booty-shakin’, singer of numerous feel good and body positive anthems beloved by the internet.
Lizzo was by no means an overnight success. Her path to stardom was a long time coming; her latest album Cuz I Love You is actually her third. The album was the first to shoot her into a more mainstream market and it doesn’t look like she’s going away anytime soon. Some would say that there has never been a better time in music or pop culture for an artist like Lizzo to bless us with her inspiring vocals and often raunchy visuals. In fact, in a music industry that is arguably becoming saturated with lip fillers and butt injections (no judgement, if that’s your thing) at a sometimes concerning rate, it’s a well needed intake of fresh air to see a beautiful and talented woman like Lizzo, who exists outside of society’s narrow conventions of beauty, proudly proclaim her space in the spotlight.
But either way, whether you stan Lizzo or not, it is undeniable that the unrestricted love she shows her unapologetically big and black body is beyond infectious. Lizzo doesn’t ask for permission or choose to tread lightly, she is loud, bold, and uncompromising—which if you ask me, is part of what makes her so magnetising to watch. Lizzo makes self-love look easy, but it’s admittedly not something that always came to the singer without difficulty. In fact, she shared in an interview with Teen Vogue that it wasn’t actually until she hit “rock bottom”—homeless, depressed and the skinniest that she’d ever been—that she decided it was time to become radical and deliberate about loving herself, saying, “It’s bizarre to me that what I’m saying and doing is revolutionary because it should be innate and first-nature. Not even second-nature.”
As a hardcore Beyoncé fan, I would almost dare to say that part of Lizzo’s power is akin to the confidence that Beyoncé has made a career out of channelling so impeccably. It’s that capacity to consistently make your listeners feel not only empowered but obliged to come at themselves with the same level of adoration and pride that the artist shows themself. When you sing along to any Lizzo tune, you don’t just love her, you love yourself—even if only temporarily. Her anthems like the fan favourite ‘Juice’, which proclaims: “If I’m shinin’, everybody gonna shine” and “No, I’m not a snack at all/Look, baby, I’m the whole damn meal”, act as a safe haven from a toxic patriarchal and Instagram culture that try to make you feel as if there’s only room for one person at the top.
Songs such as ‘Like A Girl’ take negative connotations about femininity and turn them into powerful statements. The song celebrates those girls who slay on the daily, yet is an ode to badass women like Chaka Kahn, Lauryn Hill, and Serena Williams, who have all had to be ground-breaking and persistent in order to get a seat at the table. Lizzo’s music based activism aspires to make the table even bigger, and is inclusive and non-discriminatory. She even made a deliberate decision in the writing process to make sure her song wasn’t limited to cis women, instead stating, “If you feel like a girl/then you real like a girl.” Her attempts to be inclusive and progressive don’t feel phoney or disingenuous because she knows well and truly what it feels like to be overlooked or to compete as an underdog in an industry that is often limited.
One can conclude that being resilient and self-sufficient is something that Lizzo knows well and there are plenty of songs on the album that sees her possessing an almost super-human amount of confidence. Those songs are hugely valuable and definitely make appearances on all of my playlists. Especially ‘Tempo’ which is basically twerk anthem of the year and God’s gift to us all (any fans of Lizzo who don’t listen to Missy Elliot will find that Missy basically pioneered black girl magic in hip hop and was one of the most notable plus size black women to command the stage unapologetically). But it’s songs like ‘Cuz I Love You’, ‘Crybaby’, ‘Heaven Help Me’, and ‘Jerome’ that express the vulnerability that really strikes a chord. Lizzo uses these songs to let us in on her own insecurities and weaknesses, proving that even those who deck themselves in armour let their guard down from time to time.
The truth is, it’s often easier to see women like Lizzo as invincible than it is to see them as multifaceted human beings who experience a full range of emotions. That’s why it’s important when Lizzo sings about things like being caught off guard by romantic feelings, being played by fuckboys, or about being a plus size woman who is desired and pursued both romantically and sexually—a narrative she claims isn’t usually given time of day.
I know I’m a queen, but I don’t need no crown/Look up in the mirror like “Damn, she the one.”
Ultimately, Lizzo’s greatest love is herself. She can be in a relationship and get bogged down but she still remembers who she is. It’s like she says in ‘Truth Hurts’: “Yeah, I got boy problems, that’s the human in me/ Bling bling, then I solve ’em, that’s the goddess in me.”
You can be vulnerable and emotional, you just have to remember to straighten your crown when it’s crooked.