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Lizzo


Born Melissa Viviane Jefferson, April 27, 1988, Detroit, Michigan, brash hip-hop/R&B rapper LIZZO is somewhat unique with her “big grrrl” sassy/saucy soul. From a gospel-loving girl who played flute in her school’s marching band, to rapping for the Cornrow Clique group as a young teenager, the loss of her father (“Pops”), when she was 21, had a profound effect on her career. In fact for around a year she lived out of her car, prior to chancing her luck in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“Lissa”/LIZZO had already acquired her non de plume after being inspired by JAY-Z’s “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” track and, in 2011, she was fronting electro soul-pop duo, Lizzo & The Larva Ink, before settling in part a head of all-female combo, The Chalice. Independent shared streaming mixtapes in 2012: Due Process & Product (with Johnny Lewis), and combo set, `We Are The Chalice’ (with Sophia Eris and Claire de Lune), kickstarted her career without much ado, but only for local sales.
LIZZO’s liaison with Gayngs’ Ryan Olson and Doomtree’s Lazerbreak, for her gritty 2013 debut set, LIZZOBANGERS {*7}, bought her credits among the hip-hop fraternity, but neither `Batches & Cookies’ (ft. Sophia), `Paris’, nor `Faded’, crossed over into chart territory, even when she inked a deal at Virgin/EMI through US sponsor Totally Gross National Product Records. A subsequent global tour supporting HAR MAR SUPERSTAR ensued; another step towards turning in featured guest performances for PRINCE (on his “PlectrumElectrum” set of 2014), CLEAN BANDIT (`New Eyes’), BASTILLE (`Torn Apart’) and Sean Anonymous & DJ Name (`Cold Shoulder’).
Switching labels to her own BGSW imprint further familiarised LIZZO with Lazerbreak’s production techniques, although working at Justin Vernon/BON IVER’s studio, her said rap affiliate hooked up with Sam Spiegel and Stefon “Bionik” Taylor for LIZZO’s eclectic sophomore set, BIG GRRRL SMALL WORLD (2015) {*7}. Another critical success story, the door was now opened by Atlantic Records, who signed her to off-shoot Nice Life, when she toured in support of the reunited SLEATER-KINNEY.
The 6-song strong EP/mini-set, COCONUT OIL (2016) {*6}, showcased an all-new improved LIZZO, who’d worked very hard with producer Ricky Reed on her reinvigorated gospel-singing prowess. The near Top 30 entry featured the first version of `Good As Hell’, as well as `Phone’, and promo single, `Worship’. There was brief MTV work on the show Wonderland, and on the back of tours with admirers HAIM and FLORENCE + THE MACHINE, the initial version of `Truth Hurts’ gleaned her radio play.
From what seemed out of nowhere came LIZZO’s third album, CUZ I LOVE YOU (2019) {*8}, and bolstered at first by hits `Juice’ and a resurgent `Truth Hurts’ (available on the deluxe version), the set duly climbed up the charts to eventually peak at #4 (UK Top 30). Not shy in proudly posing in her birthday suit on the empowering cover shot, 30-something LIZZO blended hardcore rap with groovy gospel-rock (like a funky fantasy meeting of MISSY ELLIOTT and BRITTANY HOWARD). Her explicit-natured magnetic pull and dynamic double entendres rumbled out without a care in the world; the title track, `Like A Girl’, `Crybaby’, the bluesy `Jerome’, the nasty `Tempo’ (with Missy), and anchor, `Lingerie’, proving beyond doubt how dexterous and multi-dimensional LIZZO could be; the aforesaid bonus addendum of resurgent transatlantic Top 10-er, `Good As Hell’, matched even her sexy duet with GUCCI MANE on `Exactly How I Feel’. The world was her oyster…
© MC Strong/MCS Jul2020

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