Totally Gross National Product
By: Sam Sacks
Over the years, the Twin Cities area has proved itself to be the hub of the most dynamic progressive hip-hop and rap scene. Its eclectic music culture is what originally attracted Houston native, Lizzo, to relocate here. After receiving much positive attention from her collaboration in Lizzo and The Larva Ink, an electro funk duo, followed by her enlistment in female dominated rap trio, The Chalice, Lizzo quickly climbed the ranks of the alternative rap circuit. Inspired by the beats of Doomtree’s mastermind producer, Lazerbeak, Lizzo began working with him on Lizzobangers.
Lizzobangers demands an attentive listen; the only thing more complex than the instrumentation on this album maybe Lizzo’s stream of pop-culture references throughout. Following her through a wide range in tempo and seriousness amongst the thirteen tracks is thoroughly enjoyable. “W.E.R.K. Pt. II” is fast-paced and powerfully worded, showing off the speedy rapping prowess of Lizzo. Alternatively, the track “Go” is a much slower piece with an eerily beautiful chord progression, showcasing Lizzo’s soulful singing voice. That song could be Lazerbeak’s signature as it was layered ever so carefully, similar to the sound of a few Doomtree related records of past.
The single from Lizzobangers, “Batches & Cookies”, is perfectly catchy, having a minimal drum kit beat and repetitive whistling pattern to back up Lizzo. One of the most amazing parts about this song is the first verse. Not only does Lizzo parade her untouchable flow, but she also begins the verse very low in her register and climbs higher and higher in pitch until her voice squeaks at the last word. Additionally, music video for this track is fantastic; I have found myself watching it on repeat. It features Twin Cities hotspots lovingly as Lizzo and Sophia Eris (The Chalice) butter up locals at Glamdoll Donuts and prance around at a pride rally at the State Capitol.
The track, “Faded” starts powerfully after a hazy thirty-second intro with the familiar horn sounds of Lazerbeak, sounding similar to Doomtree’s, P.O.S. The range of instrumental sounds also appears on, “Be Still”, with a jazzy flute and bongos. With the creative beats from Lazerbeak, Lizzo was able to extract some very creative lyrics from the depths of her mind: “Takin’ a chill pill before I whip my sword out like Uma in Kill Bill” she raps in the track, “Be Still”. Another pop-culture reference from a movie appears in the track, “T-Baby” as Lizzo spits, “In retrospect, remember when the time when I was derelict, more like derelicte I made homeless chiq,” referring to the 2001 comedy, Zoolander. Aside from the clever pop-culture bits in her lyrics, Lizzo does a powerful job of showing the listener the real pieces of her life. On the captivating and emotional track, “Hot Dish”, Lizzo raps, “I lost my pops, man I wish he was alive, I can’t let go of the past, he never heard me rap, so I carry his spirit on my back in Minneap”, proving that she has no fears when it comes to lyrical content.
Encompassing pretty much everything it takes to be a successful musician, this definitely won’t be the last of Lizzo. Her “it factor” will surely take her very far, especially as she flourishes in the vibrant Twin Cities hip hop scene. Lizzo’s first album is an indicator of this, as it draws from the R&B and gospels sounds of her past while also being extremely innovative, making way for the future of her sound. Aside from her addition to the new female hip-hop group project, " href="http://www.grrrlprty.com/">GRRRL PRTY, she has recently been touring with " href="http://harmarsuperstar.com/">Har Mar Superstar. Check her out at her CD Release Show at the Triple Rock Social Club in December.