Lizzo is finally back. After dominating the world with hits like “Juice,” “Good As Hell,” and “Truth Hurts,” and racking up platinum plaques and Grammys in the process, Lizzo has made her long-awaited return with some help from Cardi B.
“Rumors” finds Lizzo and Cardi taking on the various rumors that have plagued them in the past few years over buoyant production courtesy of Ricky Reed. The song takes a minute to settle into its groove, but once it does, Lizzo is locked into her signature pocket of brassy funk-driven uptempos. “Rumors” begins with Lizzo rapping over a relatively sparse instrumental with an awkward flow and lyrics that foreshadow a track that leans a bit too heavily into clichés. Musically, “Rumors” is a much more interesting song than what Lizzo delivers lyrically. When you’re opening the song with a variation of the phrase “do it for the culture” in 2021, the whole thing becomes very questionable. The best moments on “Rumors” are when Lizzo breaks out of her reliance on clichés and instead uses brief lines to succinctly and subtly address her major controversies. In the sublime pre-chorus, she simultaneously references stay-at-home orders and remains unapologetic for her revealing rear-baring basketball game outfit with the lyrics “If you thought that I was ratchet with my ass hangin’ out / Just wait until the summer when they let me out the house.” She also slyly references her controversial Soul Train Music Awards Album of the Year victory of Ari Lennox’s Shea Butter Baby as she sings “this shit from my soul” in the bridge. These are the moments that help push “Rumors” forward instead of having it sit in a lull that’s exacerbated by Lizzo’s clumsy flow.
Cardi has a much better handle over this beat. So much so, that she actually delivers her strongest verse of the year so far. From calling out the FCC to taking on accusations of falsified streaming numbers, Cardi effortlessly sprints her way through a verse that helps keep up the momentum the song garners from the pre-chorus. In that vein, the dizzying harmonies of the pre-chorus coupled with the funky horns and fireworks sound effects help achieve that singular explosiveness that every great pop song seeks. “Rumors” unfortunately suffers from the streaming era-induced plague of shortened song lengths. Once the drums kick in during the final chorus and outro, “Rumors” truly starts settling into its groove, but the song ends too abruptly for that moment to truly be appreciated. Overall, “Rumors” is a solic comeback song. It’s at once familiar and different. For audiences that primarily know Lizzo as a singer, the song will have an added element of newness thanks to how much Lizzo is rapping here in comparison to the sing-songy vibe of “Truth Hurts.” Nevertheless, there are clear stumbles throughout the song, none more severe than the wildly varying quality of the lyrics. “Rumors” is a bit too reliant on the Cuz I Love You formula at times, but it should get the job done when it comes to setting the stage for Lizzo’s next album.