After having to tide ourselves over with the pre-released tracks on repeat (‘Cuz I Love You’ / ‘Juice’/ ‘Tempo’), the wait is finally up. Lizzo has served us 33 minutes of self-love lyricism crafted into 11 distinct tracks on the groundbreaking album Cuz I Love You.
Already a pioneer for body positivity and self-love, the 31-year-old R&B/ Hip-Hop/ Jazz/ Soul / Whatever-genre-she’s-in-the-mood-for singer sits nude on the album’s simplistic cover, letting every inch of her speak for itself. In her collaboration with the iconic Missy Elliot she states “Slow songs, they for skinny hoes / Can’t move all of this here to one of those” and persists to provide a tune that wants you to get every square cm moving.
The album gets off on a familiar footing, with the titular track ‘Cuz I Love You’ released on Valentine’s Day earlier this year taking us by the hand and leading us into the unknown. The second track ‘Like A Girl’ also feels familiar, but only because it embodies the same “I’m THAT bitch” energy found in her previous release ‘Truth Hurts’. After this track was recently featured in Netflix’s film ‘Someone Great’ as Gina Rodriguez has an empowered dance along in her pants to it, the album provides some follow-ups to add to that break-up playlist.
The album doesn’t demonstrate a clear narrative curve, with the sporadic pacing making us want to dance one minute, then dramatically lounge on a chaise longue the next. The pacey number ‘Heaven Help Me’ gets you ready for the dancefloor, whilst ‘Lingerie’ with its sultry melody invites you to put on your best intimates and sing along about how you “Trust you with my body / My eyes closed’. It is this variety however that makes the album feel fresh, even though the songs themselves aren’t entirely distinct from those she has released previously.
The parallels carry through with the messages of self-love, powerful womxn and body positivity, but also the incomparable punchiness of her vocals alongside her more R&B rap style interspersed throughout the tracks makes the sound ever so slightly repetitive. Nevertheless, ‘Exactly How I Feel (ft. Gucci Mane) explains why Lizzo will continue being unapologetically all that she is, yelling “love me or hate me / ooh I ain’t changing” and putting everyone (including me) right in their place.
Her self love message is set in stone with ‘Soulmate’, “I’m my own soulmate / I know how to love me”, presenting her self-love as a literal relationship with “I get flowers every Sunday/ Imma marry me one day” – exactly how it should be. Though in ‘Soulmate’ she states “True love isn’t something you can buy yourself / True Love only happens when you by yourself’, she also reminds us that love looks ‘Better In Colour” and love should be diverse because “Black, White, Ebony all sound good to me”.
This album feels like a guidebook on how to put you first but explore your options when you want a bit of company, with ‘Like A Girl’ the stand out track from the album. Reminding us the only exes that should ever be on our mind are in our “fucking chromosomes”, this female empowerment permeating the track as she name drops powerful women of colour like “Serena Willy” and “Lauryn Hill”. Summarising the song to include all womxn, Lizzo reminds us all that “If you feel like a girl then you real like a girl”, no matter what you look like.
Nevertheless, to complain about a strong black LGBT woman vocally empowering her listeners and inspiring diversity within an ever-problematic industry just for a bit of repetitiveness … well, that’s a bit far. The repetition doesn’t detract from the overall sentiment of the songs nor the quality of the product, it just would have been interesting to see what alternative route she could have taken, and thus what she may do in the future to elevate her sound.