“Sometimes you see how the industry…will try to commercialize feminism, or they try to commercialize LGBTQ and black girl magic,” says Lizzo. Yet don’t confuse the body-positive, 29-year-old feminist rapper as being on the side of anti-corporate groups such as No Justice No Pride. The corporate branding of minority concerns, she argues, “is one of the symptoms of what we’re doing. You gotta look on the bright side: That we’re out there. And we are seen. We are beautiful. We are important.
“[Many] people who are creating music now were so determined to break the mold and re-define the standards of what beauty is and what normal is and what deserves to be seen,” she says. “All of us — the brown girls, big people, LGBTQ+. Anyone who has felt like their voice has been marginalized and underrepresented, we fought to be in the position that we’re in now. And the industry is starting to catch up.”
Born Melissa Jefferson in Detroit and raised in Houston, Lizzo is quickly gaining notice for her rousing uptempo music. As heard on 2016 EP Coconut Oil, the songwriter blends pop, R&B, house, rock and Missy Elliott-style hip-hop, even throwing in a few comedic antics for extra umph. Lizzo, who appears Friday, June 16, at the 9:30 Club, also generally writes lyrics with affirming, empowering and celebratory messages, perfectly captured on the set’s first single “Good as Hell.” “People think, when they listen to my music, that I’m this self-loving person just writing these songs to show how self-confident I am. But really, these songs came from a ‘fake it ’til you make it’ mentality.”
She adds, “We’re born into a world that isn’t really built for loving yourself. Growing up in my friend group, I was the fat one. I was the funny one. The one who wasn’t as cute as my other friends. So growing up like that and also getting all of these signals from television that told you fat isn’t cute and you aren’t cute because you don’t look like this — I didn’t get any encouragement at all. All encouragement came from within because I was sick of wanting to be somebody else.
“I’m not saying that my friends and my family didn’t love me,” she continues, “but there’s a difference between loving someone and showing someone that you love them for who they are despite everything around you, despite the environment. I know there are a lot of people who don’t get that, because I didn’t. So I just make this music for them.”
Lizzo performs Friday, June 16 at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. Doors at 8 p.m. While now officially sold out, the site does have a Ticket X-change section for face-value ($20) ticket resale. Call 202-265-0930 or visit 930.com.
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Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly.
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