Old heads say hip-hop is changing because rappers are choosing mix-matching hair colors and face tattoos. So imagine what they might have to say about Lizzo, a plus-sized rapper from Minneapolis that’s blending genres and moods through her music and named her 2015 album Big Grrrl Small World.
And that’s just one example of her commitment to body positivity. Last summer, she embarked on her month-long “Good As Hell” tour, tearing up stages across the country with sparkly leotards and pop-star-like choreography, single-handedly shifting representation for plus women in the genre — and having a blast while doing it. “I really want to normalize Black women's existence in the media,” she says. “I want you to look at me and say, 'Oh. That's Lizzo!’ Not, 'Aw man, it must be so hard for her as a Black woman in rap and a woman in the industry.’”
Not only is Lizzo pushing back on what it means to be a rapper, but she also has some thoughts about the direction of today’s youthful social movements. “I don't want these movements to turn into fashion statements,” she says. “When it becomes about the fashion, it becomes a trend. And trends die. I think it's important to take the materialism out of these movements and teach the youth that it's not just about wearing lipstick or a kente cloth.”
This year, Lizzo is performing at various music festivals and touring across the U.S. with HAIM. She’s also hosting the Spotify podcast Good As Hell in collaboration with Refinery29, telling the stories of female hip-hop pioneers like Lil Kim and Trina. But make no mistake: She’s got a story worth telling that’s all her own.
Black Is The New Black is Refinery29’s celebration of 20 Black women who kicked down doors in their fields this past year. Black women who are reminding the world that we are not a trend or “a moment.” We’re here — and we’ve been here. Check out the full list.