In late January, hip-hop/pop sensation Lizzo launched a Spotify podcast in collaboration with Refinery 29 called Good as Hell. The podcast describes itself as a “safe-space for the baddest women in music,” with a focus on hip-hop and rap.
Lizzo earned national attention after the release of her Coconut Oil EP in 2016. The EP made waves for its anthems of self-love and self-care, such as “Good as Hell,” the song that inspired the name for the podcast. You only need to glance at her Twitter to know that Lizzo dedicates her energy towards promoting body positivity, encouraging self-affirmation, and celebrating the accomplishments of badass women.
Each week, Good as Hell features a new guest. So far, her guests have included Lil’ Kim, Junglepussy, Kehlani, and Trina. Although Lizzo asks her guests questions, the conversations flow more like easy banter between close friends than formal, structured interviews.
In the first episode of Good as Hell, Lizzo addressed the power dynamics inherent in interviews, and how women often censor themselves for sake of self-protection.
“I see sometimes the protection, or the defensive wall that we have to put up to protect ourselves in these situations,” said Lizzo. “I am sick of holding back and watching other women hold themselves back when we’re being interviewed and when we’re being asked to share a part of ourselves.”
The lack of that “defensive wall” is what makes the conversations in “Good as Hell” so impactful. As Lizzo mentioned, sharing information about yourself in an interview requires trust that the person interviewing you will represent you and your story accurately and fairly. Journalists, who are largely white and male, hold a great deal of power in how artists are represented.
In her podcast, Lizzo flips this power dynamic on its head by giving her guests the space to speak for themselves. The episodes contain minimal editing; in each one you hear the entire arc of the 30 minute conversation. Quotes aren’t taken out of context, questions aren’t edited out.
Because of the conversational nature of the podcast, an episode’s topics may range from the history of women in hip-hop, to the Grammys, to astrology.
In the podcast’s debut episode, Lil’ Kim discussed the importance of being able to embrace your sexual and feminine identity. Often, especially in masculine-dominated genres such as hip-hop, women feel pressure to hide their femininity to achieve success or even acceptance.
“We deserve to be ourselves and still be able to play with the boys, and still be able to make music and rap,” said Kim.
In the same episode, Kim explained how necessary it is to celebrate the women around you. “I wanna put ‘Queen’ in front of everybody’s name!” she said. Soon after, she crowned Lizzo, “Queen L.”
Where else are conversations like these happening in music? Where else can you listen to two Queens hash it out, unfiltered? Good as Hell reminds us of the power of media representation, and the new dialogues that open up when we just pass the mic.