No one does feel-good anthems better than Lizzo. 2016’s Coconut Oil provided them in spades, and “Juice” — lead single for the upcoming Cuz I Love You — continued her streak of successes. On “Tempo,” the third release from the record, the rapper/singer enlists the legendary Missy Elliot to deliver another track that celebrates thick women everywhere. The song starts with an intense electric guitar riff a la Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” before settling into an icy, minimalist beat that consists of a synth, drum machine, hand claps, a siren, and Lizzo’s trademark flute towards the end. A song that could’ve landed with a thud, “Tempo” works impossibly well with its amalgamation of sounds.
“Slow songs, they for skinny hoes,” Lizzo declares at the top of the track, immediately making her intentions clear. As she jumps into the verse, the rapper/singer launches into several humorous bars about her body, with “I need a jack/for all this ass, but it won’t go flat” being a particular memorable one. The chorus demands an uptempo tune to move her voluptuous body to, which “Tempo” thankfully provides, while the second verse deigns that her ass is not “an accessarary” (yes, she meant it). Elliot is introduced by a 2000s-sounding interlude before delivering a braggadocios verse of her own that includes a dizzying succession of rolling “r”s. It’s a feature that works extremely well — two bigger women spitting about their bodies — which can’t always be said when Elliot jumps on a song, immensely talented as she is. “Tempo” ends with Lizzo telling the engineer to run the track back, and I can’t say I blame her for wanting to give it another listen.