Lizzo has easily been the breakout star of 2019 and her years-long grind has paid off tremendously in the form of accolades, hit records, all while skirting past controversy. The Minneapolis by way of Detroit resident was named TIME‘s Entertainer Of The Year because, who else, really?
But I have to ask: Why was this the year—after nearly a decade on the road, performing shows for next to nothing, living in your car, being your own hype man—that you racked up more Grammy nominations than any other artist? “I’ve been doing positive music for a long-ass time,” she says. “Then the culture changed. There were a lot of things that weren’t popular but existed, like body positivity, which at first was a form of protest for fat bodies and black women and has now become a trendy, commercialized thing. Now I’ve seen it reach the mainstream. Suddenly I’m mainstream!” She laughs. “How could we have guessed something like this would happen when we’ve never seen anything like this before?”
She’s right. Lizzo does represent something new. Her sound is relentlessly positive and impossibly catchy: bangers that synthesize pop, rap and R&B, with hooks so sharp it feels like they’ve been in your brain forever. Her lyrics are funny, bawdy and vulnerable: reminders to dump whatever idiot is holding you back and become your own biggest fan. (Even the viral four-second clip of her in a rainbow dress saying, “Bye, bitch!” and cackling as she rides away on the back of a cart is superior to many artists’ entire musical output this year.) Attending a Lizzo concert feels like worshipping at the church of self-love, if your preacher was a pop star living joyfully in a big black body, delivering a sermon of self-acceptance that’s as frank as it is accessible. At a time when Instagrammers are shilling flat-tummy tea or pretending to eat a giant cheeseburger, Lizzo sells something more radical: the idea that you are already enough.
Read the rest of Lizzo’s amazing TIME profile here. Congratulations to her.