Best Album of the Past Year (2014)

Lizzo, Lizzobangers

Sometimes it takes someone with an outsider's perspective to shake up the rules of the game. In the case of Lizzo and her debut solo album, Lizzobangers, the game was Minnesota hip-hop, and she didn't so much shake it up as obliterate the whole thing and recreate it in her own image. The buzzed-about image is one of chalice-sipping and grrrl parties, but Lizzobangers is so much more than mindless booty-shaking. A child of Detroit and Houston, Lizzo isn't beholden to the conscious hip-hop or backpack raps that have long been the staple of Minnesota MCs; hers is the language of bombast and boom-bap, delivered with a twerk and a flip of the hair. Songs like "Hot Dish" and "T-Baby" see her at her shit-talking, lady-boss best, her Nefertiti flow lightning fast as it dominates the crunchy riffing of Lazerbeak's beats. But Lizzobangers is equal parts 'tude and tenderness, as she shouts out her late father and uses her gifts as a singer to add menace and emotional heft to slow-burners "Go" and "Bloodlines." Along the way, there are visions of Emmett Till and raisins in the sun — visions of a bloody past that, in Lizzo's inspired hands, point toward a bold, ambitious future for Minnesota hip-hop.


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