When Lizzo brazenly opened “Tempo” with the words, “I’ve been waiting for this one,” teasing her collaboration with Missy Elliott, I knew I wasn’t ready. It’s been a month since “Tempo” dropped, with Lizzo’s full album, Cuz I Love You, released on Friday, April 19, but I still don’t think I’m quite ready to tackle analyzing the absolute bops featured.
When Lizzo’s “Juice” hit the charts months ago, it was received with greater praise than her similarly upbeat single, “Good as Hell” was three years ago. She didn’t stop with an extended play this time, however. Not to mention that, even prior to the release, she practically became a Twitter icon overnight with the shared video of her performing “Bye Bitch” — live flutes blazing and all.
Riding on the hype, she continued further, dropping her first promotional single, “Cuz I Love You,” with an equally powerful, monochrome but thematically colorful music video. In the same way, the “Juice” music video’s flashy effects perfectly echoed the song’s theme, with the pile of beauty products, exercising montages and beauty commercials meant to contrast and provide proof for her ultimate message of body positivity.
The song “Cuz I Love You” and its black and white music video only proves to enhance the heart wrenching emotions Lizzo details throughout, and the true extent of Lizzo’s vocal capability is showcased in soulful, brassy moments. The fact that the album itself opens with that particular single, beginning with Lizzo’s vocals that shake your soul to the core, contributes to an incredibly stunning experience.
The next promotional single didn’t fail to hype the patiently waiting fans. Lizzo somehow managed to collaborate with the legend Missy Elliot in “Tempo” (and I’m still screaming). The fact that Lizzo herself almost did not include the single due to the clashing musicality of club music with the rest of the album brings tears to my eyes: I could not imagine a world without “Tempo,” the cherry on top to this awe-inspiring album.
It isn’t just the musicality of Lizzo that stands out. There’s a single theme that remains pervasive in all the songs in the album It’s a story of self-love.
In “Cuz I Love You,” the “you” she refers to is herself — it’s an ode to self-love. The song details the journey she went on to get to her current state of body positivity, and the heavy brass amplifies the intense emotions as she practically sings her heart out. Going beyond those pre-release singles, however, “Soulmate” is another upfront song about self-love, with lyrics unabashedly repeated in the chorus such as, “I know I’m a queen, but I don’t need no crown / Look up in the mirror like ‘Damn, she the one.’”
It would definitely be remiss of me not to mention the song “Exactly How I Feel,” which has a self-explanatory title that conveys the pure lack of shame toward her own faults and being. She wears her emotions and heart on her sleeve, disregarding the haters. The feel-good song was almost necessary between the emotional powerhouses “Crybaby” and “Heaven Help Me,” and she uses this interlude to simply release her positive energy. The collaboration with Gucci Mane on that track further ascended the bop levels.
Beyond themes of self-love, she goes into great depth about how important it is to own her emotions and be transparent about her vulnerability. The album almost reads like a story in order, as she launches from a base of self-love, learns to be vulnerable and explores her own sexuality. It can, of course, be listened to out of order, with each separate song providing incredibly touching messages of love and acceptance.
Lizzo wrote an op-ed for NBC News on the day of the release of her album, detailing her entire ideology with respect to self-care. If you thought her songs were empowering enough, having all those themes directly conveyed in a concentrated article about finding her path to self-care was incredibly inspiring for me to read.
I’d definitely recommend reading the article — it proves to be surprisingly introspective as you listen further into the album and the story unravels.
The themes of self-acceptance and her aspirations to find her own methods for self-care are readily evident in pieces like “Jerome,” where she expresses the conflicted emotions she felt while she was dropping a toxic relationship.
The intensity of Lizzo’s vocals continue throughout the album, with even “Lingerie” remaining poignant despite its slow pace and gospel vibes. My one qualm was that the album didn’t feel like it really ended on a definitive note — I’m still wanting more despite the generous eleven tracks she gave us on the album. Or maybe that was the goal.
Either way, I’m excited to see what other themes she’ll try to tackle in the future, and I know that she’ll continue to shock me with all the new avenues through which she expresses her pure musicality.