Published Apr 22, 2019At the root of Lizzo's major label debut, Cuz I Love You, is one sonic concept: "What if Aretha Franklin made a rap album?" In a world where genres continue to amalgamate, the rapper and singer, who has effortlessly blended the two genres in the past, raises the ante once more by also bringing forth soul, funk and rock for the 11-track project.
"I'm crying… cuz I love you!" Lizzo belts out almost into a howl to start the album. Immediately, the depths of her emotions capture your attention and launch themselves into a rollercoaster through life's most intimate moments: self-care, self-love, intimacy, ambition and power.
As Lizzo uses the album to recount her own stories, she subsequently creates a space for full-figured black women to, once again, be part of their own narratives across different sonic eras.
The fun-loving "Juice" echoes the funk-soul mentality of the '70s, "Cry Baby" stretches itself over mid-tempo rock chords of the '80s and the string-heavy and intimate "Lingerie" echoes neo-soul of the '90s, yet they all cement themselves in her unwavering confidence. "Baby I'm not a snack at all, look baby, I'm the whole damn meal," Lizzo sings on "Juice" — and quite frankly, she is serving.
In addition to Lizzo's self-affirming verse on "Soulmate," her raw energy on "Heaven Help Me" and the sing-rap blending on "Cuz I Love You," Lizzo calls on the legendary Missy Elliott to assist her on the body-posi anthem "Tempo," passing her own torch even if for a few minutes.
At its core, Cuz I Love You is dripping in a confident rebellion that has been a catalyst for the R&B/soul divas throughout the decades, evident on the women's empowerment anthem "Like A Girl" — but it's also a rebellion that has carried women, black women in particular, through trauma and triumph since the beginning of time.
Maybe Cuz I Love You isn't what Aretha Franklin would sound like, had she made a rap album, but Lizzo created a beautiful sonic journey through different eras of music, and for that, it deserves a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T. (Nice Life / Atlantic)