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Meaning of ‘Tempo’ by ‘Lizzo’ feat. Missy Elliott

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Released: 2019

Features: Missy Elliott

“Tempo (feat. Missy Elliott)” by Lizzo and Missy Elliott is a thicc-girl anthem that serves up a bold message: slow songs are for skinny hoes, but thick hoes need tempo. Through commanding lyrics and a high-energy beat, Lizzo and Missy celebrate body positivity, confidently challenge societal beauty standards, and promote self-love by flipping the script on the typical “skinny girl” narrative usually encountered in popular music and media.

The song opens with “Slow songs, they for skinny hoes / Can’t move all of this here to one of those / I’m a thick bitch, I need tempo”. Here, Lizzo’s proclaiming she’s a “thick bitch” needing more uptempo music, as slow songs don’t quite capture the dynamism and energy she embodies. This refrain serves as the song’s powerhouse, driving home the anthem’s crux.

“Pitty-pat, pitty-pat, pitty-pitty-pat / Look at my ass, it’s fitty-fitty-fat. / Kitty cat, kitty cat, kitty-kitty cat / Prrr me a glass, boy, I like my water wet”, Lizzo playfully rhymes, owning and highlighting her curvy figure while demanding recognition with a heaping dose of sass. She’s rebuking the industry’s beauty standards, asserting her body’s worth and normalizing larger female bodies.

The chorus repeatedly asserts “Fuck it up to the tempo”, encouraging listeners, particularly those with larger bodies, to dance unabashedly. Music’s tempo, the song suggests, shouldn’t inhibit anyone from expressing themselves.

Missy contributes her rhythmic flow with “All the fly girls head to the dance floor … Get your own dough / Get your bread, own dough”. Missy has a legacy of promoting independence and celebrating female empowerment in her music, encouraging the ladies to secure that paper (money) and get dancing. She reinforces the song’s overall theme, encouraging voluptuous women to own their curves, while also expressing the importance of financial independence.

“Tempo” serves as a powerful assertion of body positivity and self-assuredness. Lizzo’s and Missy’s lyrical prowess lays down a refreshing, empowering narrative that expands the body image discourse in hip hop and music at large. This energetic track shouts the prime message loud and clear: celebrate your body, feel the beat, and dance your heart out—regardless of size.

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