What a week it’s been for Lizzo leading up today’s release of her highly anticipated major-label full-length debut, “Cuz I Love You.”
The Minneapolis-molded hip-hop/R&B innovator came off a splashy weekend twerking it up with Janelle Monáe and coolly shaking off sound problems at the Coachella festival, where she returns again Sunday for Weekend 2. She then earned large and/or lavishly praising write-ups from Entertainment Weekly (a three-page spread in print!), Esquire, NME and many other outlets. And then last night she tore it up on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” with another performance of her Top 40-flirting single “Juice.”
Sporting a black Crenshaw jersey – a tribute to the recently murdered Nipsey Hussle taken from his fashion line Marathon Clothing – she kicked off her latest late-night TV segment (posted below) singing into the camera while drinking from a red Solo cup and getting her hair braided. Soon, though, she was up and running, delivering some cool choreography straight into the camera with her now-inseparable troupe of dancers behind her. Let’s hope that night’s first guest Lionel Richie – who dished about Prince not making it into “We Are the World” (the dude liked to work alone) – hung around and saw a true American Idol in the making.
And now comes the album, her third full-length overall. Upon first listen (Lizzo’s new label Atlantic didn’t offer a preview to most press reps), “Cuz I Love You” offers a much more slickly produced but still sly, sultry and edgy overview of just about everything we’ve come to love about Minneapolis transplant Melissa Jefferson since she busted out of her old group the Chalice locally with her Lazerbeak-produced 2013 solo debut “Lizzobangers" and the 2016 follow-up, "Big GRRRL, Small World."
There a few other innuendo-filled, NSFW romps similar to “Juice,” including the Missy Elliot-accompanied “Tempo” and “Exactly How I Feel,” a fun back-and-forth with Gucci Mane. There are straight-ahead Beyoncé-like pop jams in “Like a Girl” and the self-loving anthem “Soulmate.” Local fans have already heard and grooved to the slow-jammy kiss-off “Jerome” -- a concert highlight reminiscent of Erykah Badu’s “Tyrone” – will also dig the Princely album closer “Lingerie,” which is even slower and saltier. Perhaps best of all, there are the harder and heavier throwdowns that find her at her most self-aggrandizing, “Better in Color” and the ‘70s-funky “Cry Baby.” Aggrandize away, baby.
We’ll finally get to catch our ex-local darling back in town two weekends from now for her long-sold-out Palace Theatre gig on May 5. A sign of how much Atlantic is reaching for the mainstream with this one, she’s also returning a month later to join boy band Why Don’t We and Fyre Fest fallout dodger Ja Rule at the KDWB Star Party on June 7 at Myth nightclub in Maplewood.