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Saturday, June 25, 2022

Lizzo’s recent album — Cuz I Love You — is revolutionary and reveals the vulnerability of her emotional depth in every song.

Lizzo crafts bop after bop with ‘Cuz I Love You’

Lizzo has exploded into the mainstream. After opening for HAIM on the North American leg of their Sister Sister Sister world tour, Lizzo — real name Melissa Viviane Jefferson — efficiently increased her reach and momentum, increasing her television appearances and going viral with videos of her flute-playing during live performances. This all happens alongside releasing a variety of music, including a non-album single, a cover of “Stayin’ Alive” tied-into “Happy Death Day 2 U” and the lead single for her major-label debut. 

Now, as her prominence continues to build, Lizzo released that debut, Cuz I Love You, with a solid amount of fanfare. With features from Missy Elliot and Gucci Mane, a bold album cover and production from X Ambassadors, Lizzo skillfully adapts to a wider audience with the confident and catchy Cuz I Love U while retaining the essence and lyricism she has had since her beginnings.

The title track opens the album as Lizzo belts, “I’m cryin’ cuz I love you,” to ascending and descending horns and a thumping bass. The horns reminded my roommate of the overture motif in “Phantom of the Opera,” and it’s easy to see why. They’re a fierce and commanding opening statement in an album full of them.

Lizzo’s balancing act between relentless music and vulnerable lyrics are the foundation of Cuz I Love U, and the title track sets the tone early for what listeners will hear and feel. She sings to her ex-lover, who would tell her not to cry, as she cries, suitably, out of loving him. 

A vocal proponent of self-love in the face of societal norms, Lizzo’s scantily-clad style and oozing sexuality are slightly dialed down in favor of more accessible and user-friendly vibes. Lead single “Juice” and other tracks throughout the album feature rapping less prominently and are based in singing and hooks. 

However, it’s still evident she won’t change for anyone, and she has turned her heartbreak into a lesson well learned. In addition, basing songs around singing is probably one of the best things she could do in terms of expanding her palette of abilities. Her exuberant voice a blast to listen to and she climbs up and down vocal ranges and functions with ease. “Soulmate” sees her sing-rapping verses and singing the pre-chorus before letting the production take over, comprising one of the best songs on the album. 

X Ambassadors, Oak and Ricky Reed produce the album, switching off between tracks, but the blend together is fairly seamless. There are low points, like the transition between “Jerome” and “Crybaby.” The transition between styles isn’t too abrupt, but “Crybaby” opens with very loud snare-and-synth hits that noticeably jarred me on a first listen. The overall vibe of Lizzo’s sonic landscape is well-done, though, resulting in a warm but sharp pop palette of guitars, horns and electronic flourishes.

By and large, Lizzo has kicked down the door of mainstream pop acts to stand as a viable and independent force. The album’s features are beneficial but not overpowering, and she has plenty of talent to spare across nine tracks. While Cuz I Love You doesn’t do anything remarkably new, everything it wants to do, it does well. Mainly, this means blasting bop after bop with her badass brand sex-positive, feminist and conscious bops.

Final Grade: B

Carl "CJ" Zabat is a music columnist for the Daily Cardinal. To read more of his work, click here. 

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