Lizzo’s third album Cuz I Love You – her first full-length release on a major label – makes tried-and-tested self-empowerment rhetoric feel fresh and sincere.
From future female empowerment anthem “Like a Girl” (“Woke up feeling like I just might run for president / Even if there ain't no precedent”) to her ode to self-love “Soulmate”, Lizzo’s themes are broad but her delivery and style make them stand out.
Like her mentor Prince, she deftly switches between funk, pop and rock: from heavy power ballads (the title track; the ex-dressing-down “Jerome”) to effervescent party-starters (lead single “Juice” and Gucci Mane-featuring “Exactly How I Feel”). Missy Elliott collaboration “Tempo” starts with a riff worthy of “When Doves Cry”, before switching to a deep, sultry beat (“Slow songs/they for skinny hoes… I’m a thick bitch/I need tempo”). It’s a dream cross-generational collaboration that just about delivers on its promise. Though Lizzo has always been a skilled rapper, Cuz I Love You sees her singing step up: on the sultry funk of “Cry Baby” especially, her voice is huge and impressive.
Lizzo’s inherent charisma and charm go a long way to make her self-empowerment messages convincing – and it’s undeniably more exciting and empowering to see a fat black woman sing about loving herself than, say, Katy Perry. Charming, addictive and seemingly effortless, Cuz I Love You is Lizzo’s declaration of superstardom.