Lizzo totters into the kitchen, flashes of her legs peeking through fishnets, her silhouette wrapped in a bodice. The artist begins to improvise her way out of her stilettos with a riff on the Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face.”
“I can’t feel my feet when I’m in shoes,” she coos. “But I love it.”
Happiness isn’t what Lizzo is serving; Lizzo serves positivity. Positivity is an outlook—it’s something you have to actively practice. Sometimes positivity results in happiness. Yesterday Lizzo wasn’t happy. On Twitter she was subtweeting someone who had upset her (“You a LYIN ASS NIGGA… IM SICK AND TIRED OF BEING TOLD YA BUM ASS FAIRYTALES”). She calls her online presence a “body-positive persona.” Persona. That’s key. Her music matches that persona. Her most-streamed song, “Good As Hell,” is a petition to women to prioritize themselves in relationships: “If he don’t love you anymore / Just walk your fine ass out the door.”
The internet can’t address physical solitude, though. “I’ve been extremely sad,” she says. Lizzo, 30, has spoken previously about her lowest point: She was 21 when her father died, and soon after she experienced homelessness. “When I’m really sad I have no perspective,” she says. “ ‘This is the end! Nobody cares!’ Having perspective is my remedy. I’m gonna have the opportunity to experience the opposite of this. What is the opposite of being lied to? Trust. So I meditate on trust. That’s hard to do, though, sis. I don’t wallow into the future or the past like I did. I ask, ‘What am I feeling right now?’ ”
I don’t like looking at my phone all day. Phones burn my fingertips.
But social media attracts a lot of phonies too. Does it ever get to be too much? “You better believe I’m gonna take me a break once I’m not needed. I don’t like looking at my phone all day. Phones burn my fingertips. Look! Look at this burn on the tip of my finger!” She puts her finger in front of my nose. There is indeed a small patch of hardened skin. (“You so cute,” she says with a giggle. “Your eyes crossed.”)
The important thing is making sure this shit don’t become a trend. We gotta fix ourselves in the culture.
Lizzo also uses her position to promote diversity. Today, she gets riled up talking about genderpolitics. “The way we talk about gender has to change,” she says. “Gender doesn’t really exist. We created social gender, so we gotta destigmatize it, take the importance off of skirt versus pants. That’s not even real, dog. What are you fucking talking about? ‘This is a boys’ club.’ Get your dumb ass outta here. This is a girls’ club, ho. Shut up.”
“My individuality is a gift, but it’s my biggest creative obstacle,” Lizzo says. “I can do everything. I wanna do everything. I can rap fast, sing big, say things people never said before.” Her character voices are comical and powerful; she laces rhymes with intellect and oddities. Rapping was her break, but it was also a mask. Reed helped her find her voice. “I could freestyle sing over any trap song. That’s safe, that’s easy. But what happens when I really unleash what I wanna say? I’ve learned not to be afraid of who I am.” This album, it seems, will center around singing, not raps and jibes. “I thought, Yo, what would Aretha Franklin’s rap record sound like in 2019?” she says, deadpan. “She didn’t hold back. She was a G.”
Lizzo may be what the music world needs, even if the industry has yet to signal the wide embrace she deserves. Until then, she counts her blessings. Today is one of them. “This is a literal dream,” she says, looking around at her Playboy shoot. “I watch movies about influential people’s lives—things they’ve done, boundaries they break. When you are yourself, you don’t realize the impact you have. Sometimes I be forgetting the impact I can have. This is one of those moments that remind me.”
Spring 2019: The Speech Issue
#TheSpeechIssue is on newsstands nationwide and available to download below. Limited-edition pink covers are available to order exclusively on PlayboyShop.com starting Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Pink-, yellow- and blue-cover issues are available at "Freedom Is Key: A Playboy Exhibition," a pop-up exhibition celebrating the history and social advocacy of Playboy, now open at the Beverly Center in Los Angeles, California through May 26, 2019.