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Lizzo | Cuz I Love You

Lizzo proves she's a pop star for our times with her satisfying third album.

Subtlety is not in Lizzo’s playbook. And why should it be? These are not subtle times, after all. And Lizzo is nothing if not a pop star for our time — audacious, outrageous, ambitious, empowered and extra in every possible sense of the word. That much is obvious from the gloriously nude cover portrait that graces her third album and major-label debut Cuz I Love You. It’s even more obvious from the first note of this career-defining artistic and commercial breakthrough. The woman born Melissa Jefferson doesn’t swagger out of the gate with a smile on her face and a catchy single like her current dance-pop hit Juice; instead, she falls to her knees and belts out the bombastic title soul ballad at the top of her lungs, backed by a swelling orchestra and bruising horns. After knocking you back on your heels, she keeps you there as she gleefully barrels through the balance of this fast-paced 33-minute set. Barely pausing for breath, the Houston-born, Minneapolis-based singer, rapper and flutist deftly mixes and matches styles — rap and hip-hop here, soul and R&B there, electro and funk now, disco and pop then — while infusing her powerhouse diva vocals with lyrics celebrating self-love, empowerment, inclusivity, diversity and positivity. That is, when she’s not tossing off bon mots and one-liners like, “I don’t even wanna ho no mo’ / Got you something from the liquor store,” “I’m sorry, 2 AM photos with smileys and hearts / Ain’t the way to my juicy parts,” “Slow songs, they for skinny hoes / Can’t move all of this here to one of those” and “I’m not a snack at all / Look baby, I’m the whole damn meal!” She’s not kidding. And don’t doubt for a moment that she’ll bring you back for seconds. So who needs subtlety? UPDATE: Hilarious! Google AdSense has unilaterally decreed that this review violates is standards due to content that is “pornographic … sexually suggestive … or sexually gratifying.” I presume their bot is upset over the cover picture above, which is pretty tame, I’d say. At least, I guess that’s why they’re upset: They don’t specify what the issue is, and denied my appeal without providing details. Anyway, nice to see the Internet gods are making good use of their time policing music reviewers instead of dealing with hatemongers, conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers.