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'Cuz I Love You' review: Lizzo's inventive R&B shows why she's one of 2019's brightest new stars

Lizzo performs at the Voodoo Music Experience in

Lizzo performs at the Voodoo Music Experience in City Park on Oct. 27, 2018, in New Orleans. Photo Credit: AP / Invision / Amy Harris

LIZZO

Cuz I Love You

BOTTOM LINE The irresistible, good-time arrival of a fresh, empowered R&B superstar

Lizzo has arrived.

Sure, “Cuz I Love You” (Atlantic) is the Houston-raised singer’s third album, but it is the first time she really let loose. Across the album’s great 11 songs, Lizzo doesn’t just reveal herself as a student of R&B greats from Chaka Khan and Erykah Badu to Prince and fellow H-Town native Beyoncé, she establishes herself as one of them.

Using a wide variety of styles, from the Prince-steeped blues rock of “Lingerie” and the old-school soul of the title track to the trap banger “Tempo” featuring Missy Elliott, Lizzo makes an undeniable argument that she is one of 2019’s brightest new stars.

“I know I’m a queen, but I don’t need no crown,” she sings in “Soulmate,” a brassy declaration of self-worth that calls to mind “I’m Every Woman”-era Chaka Khan, but teamed with upbeat, 2019 social media shareable realness and an Ariana Grande pop groove. “True love finally happens when you’re by yourself. So if you by yourself, then go and buy yourself another round from the bottle on the higher shelf.”

Somehow, Lizzo can even turn a kiss-off like “Jerome,” the updated cousin to Badu’s classic “Tyrone,” into a good time, with well-crafted barbs. And when she teams up with Elliott for “Tempo,” they are unstoppable in their quest for a good time, making up words like “accesorary” and rolling their “r”s so many times that even Cardi B would get tired. Okurrrr?

On “Exactly How I Feel,” not only does she hold her own against Gucci Mane by belting out her notes, she creates a new pronunciation for “exactly” (more like “ezzactly”) by doing a great call-and-response for it.

“Cuz I Love You” is inventive and sunny, a cheerful, stylish, esteem-building breath of fresh air that should have everyone looking for Lizzo come Grammy time next year.

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