In case you hadn’t heard, one of Team 360’s favorite rapper’s, Lizzo is currently destroying the South by Southwest Music Festival. The 28-year-old emcee reps Minneapolis, but she came of age in Houston. Her family moved to Texas from Detroit when she was 10 years old and elements of the H-Town sound still mark her music.
“I love like, heavy bass, that’s the Southern side,” she said when we caught up with her Wednesday at the downtown loft where her crew is camped out for the fest. “The bass and the brass.”
Lizzo fell in love with the bass because the official sound of Houston is slow, loud and banging, and the brass because she played in competitive marching bands. “If you listen to my records, every record from ‘Lizzo Bangers’ to ‘Coconut Oil,’ starts with huge brass and I really think that’s the Texas in me,” she said.
Lizzo is not the only female rapper burning up the buzz list at SXSW this year. Chicago artist Noname and rugged Brooklyn spitta, Young M.A. are also among the hottest artists at this year’s fest. While she thinks the hype is cool, she rejects the idea that people are just now becoming interested in women who rap. “I think people have always been excited about women who rap, but I just don’t think that the industry allowed women who rap to be in the same realm or get to the same level as men who rap,” she said. “Women have always been in the scene. There’s so many rappers with vaginas out there and I just don’t think they get the attention.”
But she believes hip-hop culture is changing. “A lot of the restrictions and the ceilings that were put in place for some people to not get ahead are starting to dissipate and get broken up by undeniable talent, by undeniable artists,” she said. “I think undeniability is about to really break the mold for a lot of people who weren’t listened to in the past.”
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Another mold that Lizzo’s currently breaking is a beauty standard that rejects big girls. She recently signed on as a spokesmodel for the plus-sized retail giant Lane Bryant, something she describes as “a literal dream of mine.”
For years, the company has faced criticism for refusing to deny the sensuality of its customer base. In 2010, company reps claimed they faced censorship over a body positive but somewhat racy ad featuring plus-sized model Ashley Graham.
“I remember an article was written up that was like, ‘This is too inappropriate,’ and they got all this backlash…It was so controversial because they were curvier. It was the same thing Victoria’s Secret was doing but they were just curvier. So it was like, ‘This shouldn’t be on television. This is inappropriate for children,’” she said. “I remember being like so proud of them for breaking through and not giving a ‘F’…doing something so daring.”
Ever since then she wanted to “be a part of that culture of women who break the mold,” she said.
“To be asked to be a part of it was a big deal,” she said. “I just now feel like I’m a part of that group of trailblazers, a group of beauty standard demolishers. We’re reinventing a whole new standard of beauty. We’re eliminating the standard of beauty.”
“It’s an amazing time to be a curvy woman and just a woman in general,” she said.