Female rapper Lizzo initially pounced into frame a few months ago via an appetite-taunting video for her ebullient debut single “Batches and Cookies", and now she returns with "Faded" – a double-drop alt-hip hop rush with a video featuring Macaulay Culkin and Har Mar Superstar. She travelled from her home of Minneapolis to street-cast the six-pack wielding dudes in Los Angeles in the eyepopping clip, as well the Mojave desert where Har Mar booty-pops in the moonlight as Culkin looks on.
While the smirk-inducing "Batches and Cookies" saw Lizzo blaze across UK radio playlists and snagging a deal to release her debut record, Lizzobangers, in the US she's nestled deep in Totally Gross National Product, the label founded by Ryan Olson of Gayngs. Lizzo is also a member of trap-laced collective, GRRRL PRTY with best mates Sophia Eris, Quinn Wilson, Manchita and Shannon Blowtorch. The former two contribute MC and DJ skills to Lizzo's music, adding more sugar on top of alt hip hop head Aaron Mader a.k.a. Lazerbeak’s beats. Lizzobangers is definitively her own record though, touching on her impressive musical trajectory which includes serious time spent in the classical, gospel, rock and R&B worlds.
Dazed Digital: You were born in Detroit, raised in Houston and then moved to Minneapolis. Which city had the biggest influence on your music?
Lizzo: I spent a lot of time star-gazing, writing, and learning languages when the other kids were doing cooler things in Detroit. I was a flautist in Houston, but I had alternative friends who listened to rock music too. Coming to Minneapolis I felt the most comfortable I have ever been. Everyone's on on the bigger picture. We all want to create art. I’m not saying it’s higher or lower, or better or worse. It’s just everyone can see eye to eye there. I knew a lot of girls who just wanted to be famous, and if that’s your goal, that’s awesome, that just wasn't enough for me. I saw Destiny’s Child in fifth grade and it moved me, and I listened to a lot of gospel in Detroit and gospel is created to move people. I was so moved by music that I wanted to create it as well, but once you decide that’s what you want to do with your life, to be successful, you have to be business-minded too.
DD: How did you end up making a rap record with Ryan Olson?
Lizzo: Ryan had heard me rapping and singing in the world wide web of Minneapolis, mostly in Tha Clerb and DM'd me on twitter for some help on a track. I was wasted, but I went over and freestyled. He took my drunk, faded verses and put them on the Marijuana Deathsquads' record. People were like, 'It’s the best delivery you’ve ever done,' and I’m like, 'I’m not delivering anything, I’m wasted.' Our relationship developed from there.
DD: Do you find it easy to write meaningful, funny lyrics?
Lizzo: I listen back to the record and I sound pissed off the whole time. The first line I wrote was for “Be Still” – 'I wake up every morning feeling like I’m going to slap somebody', then I just kept going with all these emotions that I wanted to get out about all these past situations that had frustrated me. There was so much I wanted to represent. I write as fast as freestyle and I don’t think about the lyrics till after. Is that the right way to write?
DD: I don’t think there is a right way to write.
Lizzo: I know some people go back and edit themselves, but I’ve never really done that. Maybe I should.
DD: Your way seems to be working. You project a strong, sorted persona. Are you fairly balanced?
Lizzo: I work on myself daily to be a better person. When I react in a negative way to somebody I sit back and think about why I did it, so I’m always working on myself, and my music is the same. I don’t put a veneer on it or project a character. I think Kanye West is a good example of someone who does that. He keeps it real all the way, from when he was backpack hiphop talking about college, to now were he’s talking about how much money he has and his relationship issues. That’s the kind of artist I want to be. If I’m going crazy, you’ll all know I’m going crazy.
DD: As well as singing you’re a highly accomplished flautist. Do you still listen to a lot of Classical music?
Lizzo: I still have my favourites for when I want to feel inspired. I really like Russian composers from the Romance era. They always used heavy brass and one of the first Lazerbeak tracks I heard is all horns, and it’s so beautiful. I have a very strong music theory background which helps me in resolving chords, and the way that I stack triads, but a lot of it is innate too.
DD: Finally, is your song “Lizzie Borden” about a contemporary social injustice case? I first learnt about her on The Simpsons.
Lizzo: Her story was something that always came up as I was really into history as a kid, then when I heard that beat, I was like, 'I’m going to kill this beat'. Lizzie Borden may have killed her parents and my name’s Lizzo, so I was just like, 'Lizzie Borden, Lizzie Borden...' Just killing this beat, but then the actual song, keeping it real, that first verse is about Chris Dorner. He was the rogue LA cop that had a manifesto and killed all those other LA cops. The LAPD found him in a house and burned him up alive. So the first part of the song is about that story, and then it’s also about the girl that murdered her parents. So it’s really dark, but it’s fun.
Pre-order "Faded" here. Lizzobangers is out on April 14 on Virgin.