Check my nails,
Baby, how you feeling?
(FEELING GOOD AS HELL!)"
Born Melissa Viviane Jefferson, Lizzo is a singer, rapper, actress, flautist, and general force of personality.
She was born in Detroit, Michigan, but moved to Houston, Texas as a child. When her father died when she was 21, she devoted herself to making it in the music business, and moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota after living out of her car for a year. There, she was briefly in an all-female group called The Chalice, but she had more success with her alternative hip-hop solo debut, Lizzobangers, released on Totally Gross National Product in 2013, and re-released through Virgin Records in 2014. The album was produced by Lazerbeak. To promote the album, Lizzo toured the US and UK opening for Har Mar Superstar. She made an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman during this period.
Lizzo got the chance to work with one of her biggest influences when she made an Early-Bird Cameo with her Chalice bandmates, and got featured on Prince's song "BOYTROUBLE" (from his album PLECTRUMELECTRUM). Lizzo called this experience a "fairytale," and appreciated that Prince let her and her bandmates "do whatever we wanted."
The tail end of 2015 saw her second album get released on her own label, BGSW, entitled Big Grrrl Small World. This was recorded in Wisconsin at Justin Vernon's April Base Studios. It features "My Skin," an early example of one of Lizzo's many Self Empowerment Anthems, which Lizzo called "the thesis statement of the album." A review of the album, from Andrea Swensson of The Current, summed up Lizzo's whole vibe by saying that "There's an old feminist adage that says that the personal is political, and Lizzo seems to understand this concept intrinsically."
Then, things took a turn in 2016 when Lizzo signed to Atlantic Records. Her first release for them was the Coconut Oil EP, which switched her sound up and adopted more of a pop-rap approach with sounds of classic Soul and R&B. The first single, the Motown-inspired "Good As Hell," slowly gained traction just as her career did, and she toured with a group of dancers she dubbed the Big Grrrls, all plus-sized dancers. In the tenth season of Ru Pauls Drag Race, she appeared as a guest judge.
In April of 2019, Cuz I Love You, her full-length debut for Atlantic, was released. 2017 single "Truth Hurts" was added to the deluxe edition after it gradually rose in popularity. The album also features booty anthem "Tempo" featuring another of Lizzo's biggest influences, Missy Elliott. The album became her mainstream breakthrough, and it pushed her to several nominations at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards, including Best New Artist (a fan-voted award where she came in second to Billie Eilish), Push Artist of the Year, Best Power Anthem ("Tempo") and Song Of The Summer ("Truth Hurts").
Lizzo is a huge advocate for Black Lives Matter, for body positivity, and for you, the person reading this, to love yourself as you are.
- Lizzobangers (2013)
- Big Grrrl Small World (2015)
- Coconut Oil EP (2017)
- Cuz I Love You (2019)
Tropes ("I've been WAITIN' for THIS one!"):
- Alternative Hip Hop: Before signing with Atlantic, she did quite a bit of this.
- Big Beautiful Woman: Aside from being plus size and gorgeous, she extends that trip to her musical performances and the songs. Matter of fact, she even poses naked for the cover art of Cuz I Love You.
- Broken Pedestal: The famous line from "Truth Hurts"; you know the line: "Why men great till they gotta be great?"
- Cover Version: For the soundtrack to Happy Death Day 2U, she did a cover of "Stayin' Alive" by The Beegees, which is pretty fitting for a horror-comedy.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: "Scuse Me" isn't shy about this at all.
- Early-Bird Cameo: The aforementioned one on Prince's song "BOYTROUBLE."
- Lingerie Scene: "Lingerie" is this trope in musical form.
- Melismatic Vocals: She was known as a rapper first, but she is no slouch whatsoever when it comes to singing. She started singing when she made the song "Worship" for Coconut Oil, and could already do some of this, but "Cuz I Love You" also has some.
- New Sound Album: Coconut Oil is where Lizzo unabashedly embraced pop.
- Self Empowerment Anthem: Lizzo's raison d'être.
- Particularly "My Skin" and "Tempo" which bring it for the big girls.
- "Boys" is the rare one for, well, boys.
- Shout-Out: From "Good As Hell": "In there, swimwear."