Lizzo Wouldn’t Be a Star Without These Artists

From having a role in a major movie to debuting at number one and quickly becoming a multi-millionaire, Lizzo is having a year that the rest of us can only dream of. She’s captivated audiences around the world with her dynamic stage presence and her ability to mix and match genres like funk, soul, R&B, and pop in a way that makes her stand out from most other artists of her generation. Given that Lizzo is having her cultural moment right now, it’s a great time to look back on the trailblazers that she has taken inspiration from over the course of her very short and very fast rise to the top.

Lizzo | Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Missy Elliott

Missy Elliot VMA
Missy Elliot | Photo by Josh Brasted/FilmMagic

When it comes to women in hip-hop, no one has raised the bar or has been as influential as Missy Elliott. While other talented female rappers have topped the charts since Missy’s reign, rappers like Nicki Minaj and Cardi B might not be here without her. If there is any female rapper with an over-the-top, commanding personality similar to Missy’s, it’s Lizzo. Lizzo also incorporates humor into her music in a way that would certainly make Missy proud. 

In a Current interview, Lizzo recalled that when she was little a girl, she watched Missy and Lil’ Kim rapping on television and thought that she could follow in their footsteps. Lucky for her, she was able to see Missy Elliott receive the Video Vanguard Award at the most recent MTV Video Music Awards. Lizzo credits Missy with proving to her that women of all shapes and sizes can become successful musicians. Lizzo recently collaborated with Missy on her song “Tempo.” We can only hope that a Missy Elliott / Lizzo / Lil’ Kim collaboration is on the horizon!

Kanye West

Kanye West
Kanye West | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Surface Magazine

While Kanye West has only grown more controversial over the years, there’s no denying that at his peak, he was mixing and matching different genres better than just about anyone else. There’s certainly a comparison to be drawn between Kanye West and Lizzo, who seems to be just as comfortable making pop radio bangers as she is turning out funky hip-hop.

In an interview with The Current, Lizzo cited Kanye’s work, particularly his acclaimed album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, as an influence, not only on her rapping style, but on her entire generation. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You also rival each other for having the most risque album covers in recent memory.

Destiny’s Child

Kelly Rowland, Beyonce Knowles, and Michelle Williams of the group "Destiny's Child
Kelly Rowland, Beyonce Knowles, and Michelle Williams of the group “Destiny’s Child”| George DeSota/Liaison

For many millennials, the 1990s R&B girl group Destiny’s Child was their introduction to feminism in music. Lizzo’s music has similar female empowerment vibes; her most iconic hit so far – “Truth Hurts” – is a kiss-off to a mean former lover. Is there a more classically Destiny’s Child-esque subject matter than that? Lizzo told the outlet that Destiny’s Child inspired the syncopations and harmonies in their music.

Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill.
Lauryn Hill performs. | Getty Images/Don Arnold/WireImage

Lauryn Hill produced one of the greatest debut albums of all time and inspired a generation of rappers and R&B singers.

“I remember wanting to make a record like Lauryn Hill, but you can never make a record like Lauryn Hill because The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was perfect,” Lizzo said of the album. “She can’t even top that. Can’t nobody top that record. If God made it, he’d have a hard time.”