If you didn’t know who Lizzo was before she dropped Cuz I Love You, chances are you do now. Starting out as the founder of several hip hop girl groups (The Chalice, Absynthe, and Grrrl Party, to name a few), Lizzo (also known as Melissa Viviane Jefferson) formed a dedicated following with her solo indie releases, Lizzobangers and Big Grrrl Small World before signing to Atlantic Records. Known for her enviable confidence (“Good as Hell,” anyone?), her witty lyrics, and–perhaps unexpectedly for those who haven’t seen her perform or don’t follow the Instagram account @sashabefluting–her ability to incorporate flute solos into her bangers, Lizzo recently hit mainstream popularity with her third album Cuz I Love You. This major label debut proved to be an instant favorite, earning the #6 spot on the Billboard 200 and leading many fans to declare it the album of the summer–with good reason. Lizzo is That Bitch™, and Cuz I Love You is here to let us know.
Cuz I Love You kicks off with a single that shares the name, a bold love song with big horns and belting vocals. The vaguely vintage feel to this track blends seamlessly with Lizzo’s modern buoyancy and wit, leading to lyrics like “What the fuck are fucking feelings, yo?” against jazz club melodies. “I start every project I do with a big, brassy orchestral moment. And I do mean moment. It’s my way of saying, ‘Stand the f**k up, y’all, Lizzo’s here!’ This is just one of those songs that gets you amped from the jump. The moment you hear it, you’re like, ‘Okay, it’s on.’” Lizzo explained to Apple Music. Consider the goal achieved: “Cuz I Love You” primes the listener for an experience that has a bit of everything: classic inspiration, club beats, and intensely clever lyrics that will make anyone want to laugh in the face of insecurity.
The rest of Cuz I Love You continues this look at modern love. Like “Cuz I Love You,” the sensual, quieter “Lingerie,” and the upbeat power ballad “Cry Baby” are more traditional love songs, albeit with just the right amount of attitude, while the break-up ballad “Jerome” describes Lizzo kicking a fuckboy to the curb. Most importantly, Cuz I Love You is all about self-love, but not the gentle, coddling self-love songs that tend to catch on the Top 40. Lizzo’s work isn’t here to inspire you to have more confidence; it expects you to have that confidence. Lead single “Juice” is a disco-tinged empowerment bop that has Lizzo laughingly singing lyrics like, “Heard you say I’m not the baddest bitch, you lie!” against a blend of funk and rap. Lizzo’s humor runs like a current through the entire record, adding even more vivacity. The aspirational “Soulmate” has Lizzo rejecting society’s demand that she adapt herself and her behavior to find a man, instead adopting a “me, myself kinda attitude” and deciding to be her own soulmate. Featuring hip-hop queen Missy Elliott, club track “Tempo” kicks off with an electric guitar solo before slamming into Lizzo’s even-toned rapping about how slow songs can’t handle her.
One of the most important tracks is “Like a Girl,” an anthemic track that aims to flip the negative connotation of the phrase. Opening on the lyrics “Woke up feelin’ like I might just run for president/Even if there ain’t no precedent, switchin’ up the messaging/I’m about to add a little estrogen” and referencing icons like Serena Williams, Chaka Khan, and Lauryn Hill, “Like a Girl” is the feel-good empowerment banger we need these days. This fact wasn’t lost on Lizzo, who made sure to make the song inclusive. “What if you identify as female but aren’t gender-assigned that at birth? Or what if you’re male but in touch with your feminine side? What about my gay boys? What about my drag queens? So I decided to say, ‘If you feel like a girl/Then you real like a girl,’ and that’s my favorite lyric on the whole album.” Lizzo explained to Apple Music. This idea continues on “Better in Color,” an Aretha Franklin-inspired hip hop track that asserts that love, lust, and life are all better without worrying about labels.
Somehow, Cuz I Love You manages to capture Lizzo’s indomitable essence in just over half an hour: sometimes cheeky, sometimes vulnerable, always bold. Overall, the album is an intensely fun burst of confidence that perfectly balances Lizzo’s witty, audacious side with intersectional feminism and self love. Cuz I Love You demands respect, and has a great time doing it. Previously, I would have said that one of the only real flaws on the album was how short it was, but this week Lizzo dropped a deluxe edition of Cuz I Love You with three bonus songs–the funky, horny “Boys,” fan favorite “Truth Hurts,” and dance track “Water Me.” If you’re looking for an album that will make you feel prepared to make the world bow down at your feet, no matter who you are–you just found it.