CNN  — 

If you’re not familiar with Lizzo yet, you’ll be hearing a lot more about her soon.

The singer and rapper released her new album “Cuz I Love You” Friday, and it’s quickly climbed the charts alongside artists like Beyoncé.

That shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows a thing or two about the “Juice” singer, who also rocked the crowd at Coachella this year.

Lizzo songs like “Coconut Oil” and “Good As Hell” are unapologetic, self-love mantras that empower a demographic we rarely see celebrated: plus-sized black women. In her music they’re depicted as confident, sexual and a lot of fun.

Here’s what else you should know about her.

She stopped talking in order to find her voice

Lizzo, born as Melissa Viviane Jefferson, grew up in Houston and stopped talking for three months when she was 20 years old.

“I don’t know what was wrong. It was dark,” she told Great Big Story.

The singer, who turns 31 next week, said she needed to listen to the voice inside of her to learn her life’s purpose. During her self-imposed silence, she decided she wanted to become a singer. Now signed to Atlantic Records, Lizzo wants her music to make the world a better place.

“I want to see tons of plus-size pop stars,” she said. “I want to see black girl magic. I just want to see us way more.”

Therapy had a big influence on her life and music

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Last summer Lizzo said she started going to therapy, which shaped her life more than what was happening on her Twitter and Instagram feeds.

“That was really scary,” she told Rolling Stone. “But going on that journey of being vulnerable with someone who I didn’t know, and then learning how to be vulnerable with people that I do know, gave me the courage to be vulnerable as a vocalist.”

Lizzo said she tried to sing the words in her new album’s title track like they were being ripped from her lungs so her listeners could hear her vulnerability.

“I was so afraid of sounding like that for so long. It’s a raw part of me that I didn’t allow myself to celebrate.”

Her social feeds are authentic and unfiltered

Lizzo has a lot of personality and is not afraid to be herself.

Sometimes she likes to play the flute on stage. Other days, you can catch her showing off her twerking skills.

You can tell she’s comfortable in her own skin, communicating body positivity to her fans and directly interacting with them on a frequent basis.

In the digital age, it’s important for your audience to know you, she told CNN in 2016.

That’s one of the reasons she says her music sticks among black women. Because they can see themselves in her work.

“I realized that it’s because I am who I am that makes these songs political,” Lizzo said. “You get a skinny white girl singing ‘Coconut Oil’ … and it’s one thing. I sing it, and it’s this whole other thing.”

We shouldn’t compare Lizzo to other music icons


Sure, we could drop a few names to give you a better idea of who Lizzo is.

We could say she’s a more profane Amy Winehouse, a more irreverent Erykah Badu, an equally woke Beyoncé.

But that would undermine the whole essence of Lizzo, a black woman who is just trying to be herself.