ALL MY BEAUTIFUL
BIG BLACK BOOTY GIRLS
AFRO IN THE AIR
LOVE YOURSELF LIKE NOBODY ELSE CAN
I SEE SOMEONE LIKE ME ASHAMED TO BE
AND HONESTLY I’M REALLY, I’M FED UP WITH IT
AIN’T I A WOMAN?
After a couple of years on the road, Lizzo is getting ready to unleash a new album: Big GRRRL Small World, which is coming out on her own BGSW label.
“When you see the world, you’re able to write about it in a different way. And that’s why the album is Big GRRRL Small World,” she says. “Everybody speaks the same language when I get on the microphone, you know? It’s opened my eyes, and I’m able to express myself globally.”
The Detroit-born, Houston-bred rapper landed in Minneapolis a few years ago and became part of the city’s hip-hop, experimental, electronic, and indie rock community. She started collaborating with two of the area’s most producers, Ryan Olson (Poliça, Gayngs) and Lazerbeak (Doomtree), and fell in love with the city’s hyper-collaborative, genre-bending energy.
“I knew I could flow because of Houston, and I knew that I could eventually learn to sing and convey a message and catch the spirit because of Detroit. But to be able to know the boundaries and break the boundaries of my musicality—that’s all Minneapolis,” she reflects. “Because Minneapolis, the people, the artists that live here, they definitely don’t follow by the rules. They make new rules and they make new normals. It’s inspiring.”
For the follow-up to her debut album, 2013’s ‘Beak and Olson-produced Lizzobangers, Lizzo wanted to try a new approach. After years performing alongside other artists, Lizzobangers was Lizzo’s first chance to claim the spotlight and fill an album with her own voice, and it stands up as an introduction to her wit and technical abilities. But now that she’s spent the past two years honing her solo show on the road, she wanted to make an album that could capture the full range of her dynamic abilities.
That Big GRRRL Small World offers such an intimate portrait of the artist is a testament to the tight bond she has with the album’s producer, BJ Burton, who helms the controls at Justin Vernon’s April Base studio outside of Eau Claire, Wisconsin (Vernon also leant his vocals and vocoder playing on “Bother Me”).
“BJ’s so dope,” Lizzo says, sighing happily. “Lazerbeak challenges me. Ryan Olson challenges me. But BJ gets me. Which is rare to find. He’s like a quiet, understanding sponge of emotion that I can just squeeze into.”
Burton is credited as producer of Big GRRRL Small World working with Lizzo to create the album out of compositions/productions that they wrote together or that she wrote with producers Sam Spiegel, Alex Nutter, Lazerbeak, and Bionik. Burton’s influence is especially strong on the album’s quieter moments, which swell with gospel organ progressions and astronomical blips and bloops before evaporating like a puff of smoke into the night sky.
It’s in this hazy space, sandwiched somewhere between throttling bass-driven rap throwdowns like “Ain’t I” and the confessional “Humanize” that we start to grasp who Lizzo really is—and as the album progresses, we’re taken on a journey of self-discovery, reckoning with past mistakes and finally learning how to truly love herself.
“I’ve done everything I could do to myself,” she says, reflecting on her personal journey toward self-love. “I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum. And then when I met in the middle, and just decided to let my body do what it wanted to do and focus on what’s important to me—which is music and performing and making sure somebody heard the song and had a better day—when I took the focus off of myself for a while, and when I looked back at myself, I realized that I liked what I saw.””
Now that she’s evolved into a healthier, more mature and self-assured woman, Lizzo says she’s never felt quite so content—and by the end of Big GRRRL Small World, that sense of playful, peaceful happiness shines through.
“I don’t anticipate romantic love, at all,” she says, smiling. “I’m not expecting it, because I feel really full. If it comes, it’s like not even secondary. It’s like a third. I have my friends and my family and my passion—the actual love of my life, the thing that I felt like I was born to do—to create music. And if somebody comes along, you know, they real lucky. That’s all I have to say about that.”
Big GRRRL Small World – produced by BJ Burton
01. Aint I (Lizzo, Sam Spiegel, BJ Burton)
02. Betcha (Lizzo, BJ Burton)
03. Ride (Lizzo, Lazerbeak, BJ Burton)
04. Humanize (Lizzo, BJ Burton)
05. Bother Me (Lizzo, BJ Burton, Justin Vernon)
06. BGSW (Lizzo, Stefon “Bionik” Taylor)
07. The Fade (Lizzo, Alex Nutter)
08. 1 Deep (Lizzo, BJ Burton)
09. The Realest (Lizzo, BJ Burton)
10. En Love (Lizzo, Stefon “Bionik” Taylor)
11. My Skin (Lizzo, Stefon “Bionik” Taylor)
12. Jang a Lang (Lizzo, Stefon “Bionik” Taylor)