When movie fans trek to theaters for this weekend’s opening of Barbershop: The Next Cut (April 15), they will be treated to another first: the major label debut of Lizzo with “Good As Hell.” Featured in the movie, the boisterous track is one of two original songs appearing on the Barbershop soundtrack.
Buoying “Good as Hell” with her arresting big voice, singer/rapper Lizzo is signed to producer Ricky Reed’s (Jason Derulo, Meghan Trainor, 2 Chainz) Atlantic Records imprint Nice Life Recording Company. The pair are expanding on their “Hell” of a collaboration with current studio sessions for her forthcoming album.
“Our chemistry hit immediately,” says Lizzo, who also plays a mean flute and piccolo. The third song we did was ‘Hell.’ Ricky was the one.”
After moving to Minneapolis from Houston in 2011, the Detroit-born Lizzo performed with several groups in the electro soul, pop, R&B and pop realms, including Lizzo & the Larva Ink and The Chalice. She first attracted major notice as a solo artist in 2013 when her solo debut album Lizzobangers earned her praise from Time as one of “14 Bands and Artists to Watch.” Last year saw the critically acclaimed release of Big Grrrl Small World, recorded at Justin Vernon’s (Bon Iver) April Base Studios in Fall Creek, Wisc. That album landed her an appearance on CBS’ Late Show with Stephen Colbert. And additional credits she’s racked up in Minneapolis include a featured role on the Prince and 3rdEyeGirl’ track “Boytrouble.”
Describing the experience as “lucid dreaming,” Lizzo adds with a raucous laugh, “I wanted to lick some of the spit off the microphone and get his power. But I love that he respects women, let’s you speak your mind and be free. That was a huge confidence boost.”
Earning kudos for her own fearless experimentation and lyricism, Lizzo (born Melissa Jefferson) calls Missy Elliott one of her major influences. “For a chubby little black girl growing up,” she says, “it was so inspiring and exciting to see someone who looked like her up there performing and entertaining.”
Having wrapped up a recent performance on talk show The Real (April 13), Lizzo will soon begin a round of showcases and music festival performances. She will play New York City’s Mercury Lounge (May 26) and London’s Oslo (June 2). Upcoming festival gigs include Boston’s Boston Calling (May 28), St. Paul, Minn.’s SoundSet (May 29), Paris’ Afropunk (June 4) and Manchester, Tenn.’s Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival (June 9).