August 8, 2022

Within the years since Lizzo launched her major-label debut album, Cuz I Love You, she has achieved a degree of household-name standing most artists can solely dream about. Singles like “Fact Hurts” and “Juice” exploded on each listening platform and soundtracked motion pictures and commercials. Lizzo herself hit the large display screen, showing in Hustlers alongside Cardi B and JLo. She’s gained Grammys, hosted a actuality present (Amazon Prime Video’s Watch Out For The Large Grrrls), launched a size-inclusive shapewear line (Yitty), and been hailed as an emblem for physique positivity. Although she’s been hustling within the music biz for not less than a decade, Lizzo’s ubiquity is comparatively new, and now she’s benefiting from it. Lately music feels secondary to her empire, like Rihanna with Fenty.

How Lizzo acquired right here reveals outstanding perseverance in an unforgiving world the place irrespective of how a lot wealth and standing you accrue, individuals will at all times discover a method to disgrace you for not adhering to a set normal. Lizzo’s defend towards naysayers who criticize her physique and perspective has been unwavering positivity, funk and disco-inspired pop melodies, and hashtaggable turns of phrase. They’ve been the hallmark of Lizzo’s early work and seem once more on Particular, the just lately launched follow-up to 2019’s Cuz I Love You. The LP is full of head-bopping melodies and Lizzo-isms, and finds its writer processing immense fame – and criticism – along with her trademark confidence.

Differentiating Cuz I Love You from Particular, Lizzo instructed Apple Music’s Zane Lowe how she felt “love is the center of this album.” Love for herself, extra particularly. “I feel the whole lot I’ve been doing previous to Particular was in pursuit of affection,” she mentioned. “And it was like, Cuz I Love You was an virtually autobiographical album about who I need to be. Once I wrote ‘Soulmate,’ I used to be crying within the studio, and I used to be like, ‘Okay, I’m writing a track in regards to the individual I need to be, I aspire to be.’ ‘Fact Hurts,’ I used to be crying within the studio, writing songs about who I need to be. And now, Particular is sort of a celebration of who I’m proper now.”

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As Lizzo arrived, she needed to fortify her defenses towards backlash that not solely comes with being a full-figured Black lady within the leisure business, however being an ultra-famous one. (The upper you climb, the extra individuals need to tear you again down, and so on.) She’s additionally confronted stress to repeat and construct upon her success. In a vacuum, Lizzo shouldn’t have an issue beating her personal metrics, as a result of, frankly, there isn’t a one like Lizzo. She is a singular entity, distinctive but accessible, a pacesetter that’s open to absorbing fan suggestions (be aware how she modified the phrases to “Grrrls” after backlash), a born hitmaker who takes dangers whereas interesting to the lots.

At its greatest, Particular lives as much as its identify with dance floor-ready disco rhythms, warmly delivered vocals, and an avalanche of Lizzo-isms. “Hello, motherfucker, did you miss me?” Lizzo greets us on “The Signal” earlier than alluding to the final couple of pandemic years: “I’ve been dwelling since 2020/ I’ve been twerking and making smoothies/ It’s referred to as therapeutic.” The TikTok juggernaut “About Rattling Time” and “Grrrls” degree up the perspective: “It’s dangerous bitch o’clock, yeah, it’s thick-thirty/ I’ve been by way of rather a lot, however I’m nonetheless flirty” and “That’s my woman, we CEOs and dancing like a C-E-Hoe.” You get the concept. Lizzo loves herself some wordplay. These traces actually need to be a part of Lizzo’s finely tuned model of Whitman self-celebration – e.g., “I do my hair toss, verify the mirror/ Child, the way you feelin’?” and “I simply took a DNA take a look at/ Seems I’m 100% that bitch.”

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However I ponder if Lizzo hides a little bit an excessive amount of behind the self-empowerment verbiage. Throughout Particular, her phrases come throughout like taglines and hashtags, prepared and prepared to go viral with the lots as a substitute of speaking one-on-one. Maybe she’s feeling the stress at present’s pop stars have described once they’re instructed to create a viral second, fast! However make it appear natural! Clearly Lizzo is a TikTok pure, nobody must push her to make short-form movies. However the business’s underlying have to at all times have extra – views, streams, followers — could have obscured Lizzo’s authentic mission.

Which could clarify the selection to interpolate so many mainstream hits on Particular. You already understand how “Grrrls” flips Beastie Boys’ “Women.” There are additionally apparent samples of Lauryn Hill (on the Mark Ronson collab “Break Up Twice”), Kool & The Gang (“Bare”), and Coldplay (“Coldplay”) amongst others. Lizzo loves paying tribute to her influences (notably Prince, Missy Elliott, and Beyoncé) however relying this tough on interpolation feels too secure. Even ‘80s pop jam “2 Be Cherished (Am I Prepared)” sounds birthed from Michael Sembello’s “Maniac.” Lizzo has proven that she’s an authentic — why lean so laborious into what got here earlier than?

Particular incessantly slaps and it’s acquired supportive messages packed into all 12 songs, which had been helped alongside by studio titans like Benny Blanco, Max Martin, “Fact Hurts” collaborator Ricky Reed, and the aforementioned Ronson. However given Lizzo’s historical past of sharp-tongued, left-field lyrics — notably on 2013’s indie-rap Lizzobangers and 2015’s extra melodic Large Grrrl Small World (the latter of which has been scrubbed from streaming service) — Particular goes down like a Hallmark card, within the literal sense on “Birthday Woman,” which works, “Is it your birthday, woman? Cuz you lookin’ like a gift.”

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Though fierce, pleasant, and many assured from begin to end, Particular as an entire doesn’t actually take any new possibilities, which could be irritating, as a result of we all know so nicely how succesful Lizzo is at shattering expectations. Not that any of this can cease the album and its singer from taking off even larger, reaching new stratospheres of mainstream visibility and TikTok virality. This high-gloss Lizzo might need the sting taken off, however there’s nonetheless no celebration on the block fairly like hers.