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Rapper Lizzo a ‘Cut’ above the rest with ‘Good As Hell': Review

Minnesota rapper Lizzo is peforming in New York

Minnesota rapper Lizzo is peforming in New York City on May 26. Photo Credit: Jabar Jacobs

Catchy and upbeat, with a shout-along hook: Expect to hear Lizzo’s contribution to the “Barbershop: The Next Cut” soundtrack, “Good As Hell,” coming from apartments and car windows throughout the city, wherever partygoers are convening on their way to a night out. This is singalong music, the type worthy of hairbrush microphones and dancing in front of the mirror.

It’s also the latest in a series of successes for the 28-year-old Minneapolis-based emcee: Her debut album, “Lizzobangers,” came out in October 2013, and since then she’s already appeared on “Late Show” with both David Letterman and Stephen Colbert, signed with Atlantic Records and, perhaps the biggest honor of all, collaborated with the late legend, Prince.

amNewYork caught up with Lizzo, born Melissa Jefferson, to talk about her quick star turn, her new album “Big GRRRL Small World” and who she’s listening to when she’s getting ready to go out.

You’ve had an overwhelming-sounding three years. Is the success sinking in yet?

I’m very much in the game. I haven’t looked up, I haven’t checked my surroundings. It feels like I’m working. There may be moments where we get to sit and reflect — but those moments come and go quick, and then we’re working again. I feel appreciated. I don’t feel like I’m spinning.

Your latest album “Big GRRRL Small World” is so, for lack of a better term, fun.

“Lizzobangers” was everything I’d been holding in for years and years. “Big GRRRL Small World” was my opportunity to live in my music and create the music I live for. There was a moment when I played one of my earlier songs on the record for one of my friends and collaborators, and they were like, “It finally sounds like the way you perform on stage.” When I was touring “Lizzobangers,” the live show sounded so different. So the goal for this record was bringing that essence to the record.

You started in Houston, then moved to Minneapolis, two cities with very different rap scenes. Were there any similarities?

The cool thing about both cities is that they have their own homegrown hip-hop styles. The type of music in Houston was very easy, freestyling, stream-of-conscious. In Minneapolis, it’s conscious rap. It’s sometimes moody. But they both have their own homegrown styles. ... The cool part was being in Houston’s hip-hop culture, then moving to Minneapolis and being embraced by its homegrown culture.

“Good As Hell” is the perfect getting-ready-to-go-out song. What song plays that role for you?

It changes with every Beyoncé album. [Laughs] Or anything by Future, too — he’s killing the game.

If you go

Lizzo performs at the Mercury Lounge on May 26 at 9:30 p.m., 217 E. Houston St., 212-260-4700, sold out.


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