“Have you ever been to Paris? Neither have I. Neither have I.”
Those are still the lyrics to Lizzo’s LIZZOBANGERS track, “Paris,” but they are not longer true for the rapper, whose debut album was named #1 Album of 2013 by us here at BUST.
With roots in Houston and Detroit, but now based in the Twin Cities, Lizzo told Jay-Z’s Life+Times that when she wrote the song, she had never in fact been to Paris. A year after her album release, Lizzo has had a song featured on Girls, started a web-series, performed flawlessly on Letterman, recorded with Grimes, recorded with Prince, and toured Europe, including a stop to film the video for “Paris” in Paris.
“That video is off the chain,” Lizzo says, “You’re experiencing my first time in Paris…” Complete with late-night liquor store runs and saucer-eyes beneath the Eiffel Tower, the video is an ode to a fling in a city that has attracted artistic meditation from Hemingway to Kanye and Jay.
Lizzo always keeps you on your toes lyrically and musically, giving off a fresh stink that has won over critics and fans. "Paris" is no different as Lizzo jumps around from her position in the music industry (“Jigga’s favorite new artist he ain’t heard of”) to her cousin in blue law Detroit, and while the verses are frenetic, the hook is a smooth sing-along anthem. Keeping listeners hopping from one foot to the other: that is Lizzo's prerogative. She told The Current, “Hopefully and gladly people now are like, ‘If I’m going to a Lizzo show I’m going to get drunk and shake my butt,’... That’s what you’re supposed to do! You’re supposed to have fun ... It’s music. Music, since the beginning of time, is created from movement.”
In 2011, while Jay and Ye were sitting in their thrones in the city of light, “[getting] faded, Le Meurice for like six days,” Lizzo was just daydreaming about a trip: “and if you said you did then I pro’ly won’t believe you,” she snarls. But, as she grows, she is claiming space. Paris, to be exact, as well as a space in the boys-game of rap on her own terms: she’s not scolding models and she doesn’t own many hot bitches. Her music subverts gender norms and beauty ideals (watch as she turns objectification on its head and butters up a shirtless dude in "Batches and Cookies"); it’s unlikely that she’s still an artist that Jay has never heard of (especially since he curates Life+Style).
Recently, nearly every female celebrity has been asked to declare their allegiance or dismissal of feminism. Lizzo’s response shows an acknowledgment of a separation between herself and her work. While some (okay, we) immediately categorized her artwork as feminist, Lizzo took some time to decide why and if that was a label she could accept personally and live up to politically:
I never thought about it, until this past year. “Batches and Cookies” was BUST magazine’s top feminist video, along with Beyoncé. I’m like, Beyoncé put a feminist [Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] in her song, I was just at a gay rights rally and rubbing butter on a sexy man. Why does this make me feminist? So I had to sit back and think about it. I’ve had discussions with people, mainly [my friends and musical collaborators] Chita and Sophia, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I think feminism is about equality of the sexes, equality in the races, and the creeds, and cultures. Early feminism was about freeing the slaves, and then once the slaves were free it was about freeing the women. And I’m all about that. I’m all about equality. So I gladly claim feminism.
Of course, this makes us so, so happy.
Somewhere in between Minnesota and Paris, Lizzo put aside some time to make a very feminist statement and strip down to her skivvies for stylelikeu.com’s positive body image project, What’s Underneath. As she de-ringed, de-socked, and eventually even de-wigged, Lizzo opened up about her own experiences accepting her body, crafting her own style, and feeling conflicted about Beyoncé (her blonde silky locks are indeed a part of the 90 billion dollar industry that makes black girls hate their hair -- although, might Bey also be a victim of that industry?).
She also admits that though she has finally fallen in love with her skin, her presence and personality tend to intimidate men who think she takes up too much space. The boys are going to have to start yielding more and more space for Lizzo, though. Her smart, strong voice deserves Parisian arenas and Brooklyn stadiums -- all the spaces, all of ‘em!
Images and videos via Lizzo, Jay-Z & Kanye West, Serene Supreme, The Current, Rap Genius, Style Like U.