With origins in both Detroit and Houston, the Minneapolis-based rapper/singer Lizzo (Melissa Jefferson) has been around but doesn’t get around by the racy risqué definition. It is logically evinced that her numerous past collaborations have influenced her musical style, which appeals to a grouping of different genres, all the while keeping a firm foundation in hip-hop with some experimental pop tossed in the mix. Her solo debut LP from 2013, Lizzobangers, which was produced by Ryan Olson and Doomtree’s Lazerbeak, was very well received critically and paved the way for Big Grrrl Small World, her official sophomore followup released Dec. 11 via BGSW.
A modern day feminist with pro-black tendencies to be blunt, Lizzo is both those things without being obnoxious, overwhelming or nasty, though she does have some bite to her. Her independent feminine attitudes and black libertarian social standings put some healthy distance between her individual cognition and the submissive conformist attitudes of others, helping her to form her own personal opinion, but she does seem to approve of groupthink if it’s healthy and right.
Letting her inner woman roar out in “Ain’t I” and “Betcha” over some retro-style drum breaks and moving forward with nothing stopping her in “Ride,” Lizzo is choosy and selective of men in her search for love, never seeming to settle in “Humanize” and starts to encourage big girls to denounce pro-skinny girl media propaganda in “BGSW.” Taking a little break to rap about her relationship with her mother, quarreling included, in “1Deep,” she doesn’t waste time getting back to her main agenda thereafter. “En Love” works as a recharge for big black girls so they can love themselves even when no one else will, and similarly, “My Skin” is for larger ladies to learn to love the curves they grew into.
Exhibiting rap essences from the likes of Queen Latifah and Missy Elliott, Lizzo has done her homework and has learned from some of the best but maintains a strong focus on unique new lyrics and music. Her rhyme flows are not tremendously extensive so she is not the textbook model of a hardcore hip-hop emcee, but her rap verses are definitely in there regularly and consistently enough, cut by melodic singing stretches for balance and variegation. Additionally, electronic vocal contortions are a continuous part of the program and so are beats of hard and soft integers that occasionally cut each other off, though they’re mostly a beautiful sonic escape collectively, powerful yet soothing. Production comes from BJ Burton and Stefon “Bionik” Taylor mostly and a few others as well. Unapologetically womanly, Lizzo does isolate herself from the opposite sex a bit and seemingly just for the thrills of seeing them teased, but in a rap era of increased shortage and demand for strong female emcees, Lizzo is finding great value for her gifts in this day and age.
Big Grrrl Small World can be streamed via SoundCloud here or on YouTube.