Atlanta RecordsThe breakthrough artist of 2019 in urban music was undoubtedly, Lizzo, with honorable mentions to Megan Thee Stallion, and Summer Walker.
2019 is officially the year of Lizzo. After leading all artists with eight nominations for the 62nd annual Grammy Awards, she was named Entertainer of the Year by TIME magazine. The 31-year-old artist was also honored as one of Entertainment Weekly’s Entertainers of the Year.
After years of struggle, including living in her car, Lizzo, born Melissa Viviane Jefferson, became a superstar in 2019 with her double-platinum hit “Truth Hurts,” and two platinum singles, “Good as Hell,” and ”Juice,” from her third studio album, Cuz I Love You.
“Truth Hurts” tied the record for the most weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for a rap song by a female artist. It was on top of the chart for seven weeks, equaling the mark set in 2014 by “Fancy,” by Iggy Azaela featuring Charli XCX.
“Truth Hurts” received Grammy nominations for Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance. Lizzo is also up for Best New Artist. Cuz I Love You is up for Album of the Year and Best Urban Contemporary Album. The singer/rapper is also nominated for Best R&B Performance for “Exactly How I Feel,” and Best Traditional R&B Performance for “Jerome.”
Lizzo won her first two honors this year when she took home two Soul Train Awards: Album/Mixtape of the year for Cuz I Love You, and Video of the Year, for “Juice.”
Lizzo’s status as a new superstar was confirmed when she was featured as an answer on Jeopardy! October 28, host Alex Trebek asked the three contestants a question worth $600: ”In 2019, this five-letter rap & R&B artist had the ‘Juice’ to be nominated for Best New Artist at the VMAs.” Contestant Diana correctly answered, “Who is Lizzo?”
The record-setting artist also became a film star as she made her acting debut in Hustlers, starring Jennifer Lopez, and featuring Cardi B and Keke Palmer.
During the year, Lizzo collaborated with Ariana Grande on the “Good As Hell” remix, and she recorded her single “Tempo” with one of her idols, Missy Elliott.
Rihanna is among the stars who have Lizzo on their collabo wish list. “I would collaborate with her on the lights for this interview right now, like, Lizzo is so bada**,” RiRi told Entertainment Tonight at her Savage X Fenty runway show during Fashion Week in New York City. “She is everything that Savage stands for,” Rihanna continued, referring to her lingerie brand. “A confident woman, no matter what size, color, shape.’
“I WOULD SING THE BASS DRUM IN A RIHANNA FART JUST TO MAKE THIS COLLAB HAPPEN,” Lizzo hilariously tweeted, in response to Rihanna’s comments.
Mariah Carey also loves Lizzo. When Vogue asked the five-time Grammy winner, “Which up-and-coming singer should I listen to?,” Mariah replied, “Lizzo.”
“I got the @MariahCarey stamp of approval b**** oooooohhhh my goooooooooooooodness,” Lizzo tweeted in response.
Mariah in turn responded, “You don’t need my stamp, you’re 100% that b****!!!!”
Though 2019 was full of highlights for Lizzo, however the year was not without controversy. Brothers Justin and Jeremiah Raisen accused her of plagiarizing one of their songs for “Truth Hurts.” Lizzo responded with a lawsuit saying that they’d “embarked on an escalating campaign of harassment.”
As 2020 approaches, Lizzo looks forward to recording with another new star who, like her, also grew up in Houston: Megan Thee Stallion.
Megan Thee Stallion
Born Megan Pete, Megan Thee Stallion blew up this year with the sizzling track that defined the warm weather months in the middle of the year: “Hot Girl Summer.”
After releasing her Make It Hot EP in 2017, and her Tina Snow EP last year, Megan dropped her Fever mixtape in May, featuring her hit “Cash S***” with DaBaby. She then became a household name when she dropped “Hot Girl Summer,” featuring Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign, in August.
“Hot Girl Summer” won an MTV Video Music Awards for Best Power Anthem. The 24-year-old singer/rapper was also honored with the BET Hip Hop Award for Hot Ticket Performer, and Best Mixtape for Fever.
December 7, Megan received the Breakthrough Artist Award at Variety’s Hitmakers brunch in Los Angeles. Five days later, on December 12, she announced she was making her acting debut next year in the NBC series, Good Girls. That evening, she was recognized by Billboard with the Powerhouse Award at the publication’s Women in Music event in L.A.
Her list of honors also includes being named to Forbes’ annual “30 Under 30” list of the brightest young stars in showbiz.
Even more impressive, Megan’s amazing run in 2019 came as she resumed her studies at Texas Southern University, majoring in health administration.
At 5 foot, ten inches tall, Megan has the stunning height of a fashion model. After sitting in the front row at the Coach 2020 spring/summer fashion week show in September in New York City, she appeared in the brand’s “Wonder for All” holiday ad campaign. Megan’s featured along with grown-ish star Yara Shahidi, Spike Lee and his wife, Tonya, models Kate Moss and Fernanda Ly, and 13 Reasons Why actor Miles Heizer.
Megan is closing her breakout year on December 31 with a performance on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020.
Like Megan Thee Stallion, Summer Walker is also on Forbes’ annual “30 Under 30” list of the top young stars in entertainment.
The 23-year-old singer from Atlanta made history in October when her debut album, Over It, earned the biggest streaming week ever for an R&B album by a woman.
Walker earned 154.7 million on-demand audio streams, breaking the record set by Beyoncé’s Lemonade, with 115.2 million, in 2016. Only one R&B album, The Weeknd’s Starboy, with 175.2 million in 2016, earned more streams in a week.
Over It is also the biggest debut album of any R&B female artist in over 10 years. It debuted at number one on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, and number two on the Billboard 200, with 134,000 units earned.
The album features numerous stars, including Bryson Tiller, Usher, Jhene Aiko, PARTYNEXTDOOR, 6lack, and A Boogie wit da Hoodie.
The success of Over It led to Summer winning the Soul Train Award winner for Best New Artist in November.
Walker made her recording debut in 2018 with her Last Days of Summer mixtape which featured her breakout hit, “Girls Need Love.” Drake jumped on a remix this year and the song caught fire, going double-platinum.
When Drizzy heard the original track at a bowling alley, he DM’ed Walker, letting her know he was a big fan. “So,” Summer recalls responding, “I asked him if he would get on it — and he did.”
With the momentum of her record-setting album, and winning a Soul Train Award, Summer headlined what she ironically named The First and Last Tour. She was scheduled to perform in 35 cities but, after only two weeks on the road, she ignited a social media storm when she announced she was canceling 20 dates dues to mental health challenges.
“Unfortunately I’m not gonna be able to finish this tour because it doesn’t really coexist with my social anxiety and my introverted personality,” Summer explained in an Instagram video. “I really hope that people understand and respect that, at the end of the day, I’m a person. I have feelings.”
Summer became a constant target on social media, and the backlash escalated when she kept fans waiting for over four hours for a November show in Toronto. She blamed the delay on customs officials inspecting her equipment at the Canadian/American border, while fans said the true cause was because she was hanging out with Drake beforehand.
Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.