- After Lizzo’s 2017 song “Truth Hurts” became a hit, one woman accused the singer of stealing an infamous line in the song from a viral tweet she posted.
- Though she initially denied stealing from the tweet, Lizzo has now agreed to credit the woman and explained that she was inspired by a meme that was created based on the tweet.
- However, Lizzo is fighting back against another accusation of plagiarism in a lawsuit against a group of men who she says are falsely claiming to have contributed to the chart-topping song.
- The case has sparked conversations about the line between inspiration and plagiarism, as well as questions about what amount of that inspiration or presence warrants songwriter credit.
Who Wrote Truth Hurts?
Lizzo has addressed accusations of plagiarism over her hit song “Truth Hurts,” agreeing to credit a British singer whose tweet inspired the song’s opening line but refusing to credit other men who claim to have also contributed to the record.
All of the drama surrounding the song stems from arguably one of its most infamous lines: “I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that bitch.”
“Truth Hurts” was released in 2017, but the song picked up widespread success earlier this year after it was featured in Netflix’s Someone Great. It has sat on the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks, and if that success carries through one more, it could possibly break the record for the longest-running No. 1 rap song ever by a female artist.
Songwriting disputes are not uncommon in the music industry, as seen in high-profile copyright cases involving Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse.”But the dispute over “Truth Hurts” is somewhat unusual for two reasons: First, it has sparked a huge debate over the origins of “DNA test” lyric, which has launched conversations about the line between inspiration and plagiarism in cases like these. And second, “Truth Hurts” faces claims that it borrowed from an unreleased song.
Mina Lioness Demands Credit
British performer Mina Lioness has claimed she is the original creator of the line, which she tweeted out on February 24, 2017, about seven months before the song was released.
Lizzo initially denied Mina was the source of the song’s inspiration, saying, “I’ve never seen this before in my life.” In response to accusations of stealing, Lizzo said, “That’s crazy.”
“But u know, there’s 10 BILLION ppl on the planet. The odds of multiple people having the same idea are VERY high,” she continued. “The odds of multiple ppl putting it in song w/ millions of streams are low tho. Nothin new under the sun.”
Mina Lioness was of course frustrated by that response and took to social media to hit back at Lizzo and her team.
“What I cannot get over is how brazen Lizzo and her team have been in ignoring my whole presence,” she tweeted.
“They’re doing it because they know I have no capital to address her,” she added. “I’m just the poor Black girl from London that don’t have a dog in the fight.”
Raisen Brothers Also Demand Credit
Accusations of stealing didn’t end there. Justin and Jeremiah Raisen, known as the Raisen brothers, and another songwriter, Justin “Yves” Rothman, have also been fighting for credit on the song.
As explained in a New York Times article on the matter last week, the brothers argue that the same line, “I just took a DNA test / Turns out I’m 100% that bitch,” was actually used in an unreleased track called “Health” from an April 2017 studio session with Lizzo and other songwriters.
Last week, Justin Raisen posted a video to Instagram with music from “Truth Hurts” overlaid with the unreleased song.
The caption read: “We were never contacted about being credited for the use of the parts of ‘Healthy’ (melody, lyrics, and chords) that appear in ‘Truth Hurts.’ After reaching out to [co-writer/producer] Ricky Reed and Lizzo’s team about fixing it, we put the song in dispute in 2017, when it came out. We’ve tried to sort this out quietly for the last two years, only asking for 5% each but were shut down every time.”
While the video does not seem to provide evidence that the Raisens and Rothman actually contributed to the writing of the line, Justin Raisen told the Washington Post that the melody “was written over the beat that we came up with.”
Lizzo Gives Credit and Files Lawsuit
Lizzo addressed all the accusations of stealing on social media Wednesday, writing, “As I’ve shared before, in 2017, while working on a demo, I saw a meme that resonated with me, a meme that made me feel like 100% that bitch.”
“I sang that line in the demo, and I later used the line in Truth Hurts. The men who now claim a piece of Truth Hurts did not help me write any part of that song. They had nothing to do with the line or how I chose to sing it,” she continued.
“There was no one in the room when I wrote Truth Hurts, except me, Ricky Reed, and my tears.”
“I later learned that a tweet inspired the meme. The creator of the tweet is the person I am sharing my success with…not these men. Period.”
Minutes later, Mina Lioness seemed to confirm Lizzo’s comment, tweeting, “I just took a DNA Test, turns out I’m a credited writer for the number one song on Billboard.”
“I want to publicly thank @Lizzo and her entire management team for embracing me and reaching out,” she added.
Lizzo also hit back against the Raisen brothers with a lawsuit, first reported by Variety Wednesday. In it, she is asking a judge to reject the men’s claim of ownership or contribution. The suit claims the brothers “embarked on an escalating campaign of harassment against Lizzo” and others involved with the song’s creation, threating to go public if they did not receive compensation for their share of the work.
Lizzo’s attorney told Variety, “They did not help write any of the material that they now seek to profit from, which is why they expressly renounced any claim to the work, in writing, months ago, as the lawsuit makes abundantly clear.”
Raisen Brother’s Respond
After Lizzo’s social media response, the Raisen brothers spoke with the Los Angeles Times expressing their disappointment with her statement. They specifically took issue with her referring to “Healthy” as a demo and refusing to mention them by name,
“It’s not in line with what she stands for and preaches for and is preaching about,” Justin Raisen told the Times. “We’ve said nothing but nice things about her, and now to find out that she’s actually pointing her finger at us — these quote-unquote ‘men’ — is extremely saddening, and it’s painful … because people don’t do this to other people. It’s just not fair. I’ve never dealt with anything like this in the music industry.”
In a second interview with the paper, which took place after news of the lawsuit was made public, Justin Raisen called the move “a complete abuse of power and really, really bad for the music community.” He added that the situation has made him consider leaving the music industry altogether.
“We’ll go to court. We’ll win. We’ll take a lot more money — not that that’s what I want; I just want the right thing to be done,” he said. “And then I’ll take [Lizzo] to court because I’ve almost been checked into a psychiatric recovery center twice because of all of this damage and psychological stress I’ve been through.”
Meanwhile, Jeremiah Raisen said he was the person to persuaded Lizzo to use the infamous line in a song, and the brothers together claimed they made several attempts to settle the issue in private.
For now, it seems like it will be up to the court to decide who deserves credit for the megahit. But the case has reignited conversations about what exactly constitutes songwriting and what amount of collaboration, inspiration, or presence, warrants credit.
Quinta Brunson Says This Country is “Not Okay” Following Requests For School Shooting Episode of “Abbott Elementary”
“I don’t want to sound mean, but I want people to understand the flaw in asking for something like this,” the writer and actress tweeted.
Quinta Brunson Calls Out “Wild” Requests
“Abbott Elementary” star and creator Quinta Brunson shut down requests for her to make an episode of the hit comedy series involving a school shooting.
“Wild how many people have asked for a school shooting episode of the show I write,” Brunson tweeted “People are that deeply removed from demanding more from the politicians they’ve elected and are instead demanding ‘entertainment.’ I can’t ask ‘are yall ok’ anymore because the answer is ‘no.’”
Her message came one day after 19 children and two teachers were killed during a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. It marked the 27th school shooting of 2022, just 22 weeks into the year. The news of the massacre has rocked the nation, dominating the cultural conversation with calls for change.
Brunson believes those calls should fall on the ears of politicians, not television writers.
“Please use that energy to ask your elected official to get on Beto time and nothing less. I’m begging you,” Brunson said to fans, referring to Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke (D), who publicly confronted Gov. Greg Abbott (R ) about gun control legislation during a press conference the same day.
“I don’t want to sound mean, but I want people to understand the flaw in asking for something like this. We’re not okay,” she continued. “This country is rotting our brains. I’m sad about it.”
“Abbott Elementary” is a heartwarming sitcom following teachers at a public Philadelphia elementary school. Brunson plays Janine Teagues, a passionate and optimistic second-grade teacher. Despite a lack of resources and funding, Teagues and the rest of the staff are deeply committed to helping their students learn and succeed.
Brunson Shares Example of Suggestion
Brunson shared an example of “one of many” messages she received suggesting a school shooting episode for “Abbott Elementary.” The anonymous fan said a shooting should happen in the “eventual series finale” to “highlight the numerous ones in this nation.”
“Formulate an angle that would get our government to understand why laws need to pass,” the message continued. “I Think Abbott Elementary can affect change. I love the show.”
In response to Brunson’s thread, many were shocked that viewers would want to watch something so devastating happen on a largely uplifting show. Some followed Brunson in questioning why those fans were not directing their focus on politicians instead. Others were frustrated that these requests were being pointed at a joyful show depicting a predominantly Black school.
“I look to Abbott Elementary for a laugh, not a reminder about how black kids will never be safe,” one person wrote.
Having just finished its first season, “Abbott Elementary” is currently being credited as one of the few series saving the network sitcom. It raked in ABC’s highest ratings for a comedy since the series finale of “Modern Family” in 2020. It also became the first ABC sitcom premiere to quadruple its ratings since its initial airing.
“Abbott Elementary” is highly acclaimed by both critics and viewers and is considered a favorite for Emmy nominations this year. It is expected to return in the fall.
See what others are saying: (People) (The Hollywood Reporter) (The Washington Post)
Ricky Gervais Criticized For Jokes About Trans People in New Netflix Special
The backlash comes less than a year after Dave Chappelle received similar criticism for his most recent stand-up special on Netflix.
Ricky Gervais Aims Jokes at Trans Community
Comedian Ricky Gervais is facing backlash over transphobic remarks he made in his latest Netflix stand-up special “SuperNature.”
Less than five minutes into the program, which was released on Tuesday, Gervais began aiming his jokes specifically at trans women.
“Oh, women. Not all women, I mean the old-fashioned ones,” Gervais said. “The old-fashioned women, the ones with wombs. Those fucking dinosaurs. I love the new women. They’re great, aren’t they? The new ones we’ve been seeing lately. The ones with beards and cocks!”
“They’re as good as gold, I love them,” he continued. “And now the old-fashioned ones say, ‘Oh, they want to use our toilets.’ ‘Why shouldn’t they use your toilets?’ ‘For ladies!’ ‘They are ladies, look at their pronouns. What about this person isn’t a lady?’ ‘Well, his penis.’ ‘Her penis, you fucking bigot!’ ‘What if he rapes me?’ ‘What if she rapes you, you fucking TERF whore?’”
He then bemoaned cancel culture and “woke comedy,” claiming the surest way for someone to get canceled is to tweet that “women don’t have penises.”
Gervais is no stranger to prompting controversy and outrage with his comedy. He likely anticipated that his remarks would cause a stir, especially given that he carved out time in his special to defend his jokes about trans people.
“Trans people just want to be treated equally,” he said. “I agree. That’s why I include them.”
Gervais noted he made jokes about a variety of groups and people, arguing that these remarks are not a window into his soul or beliefs. He said he would “take on any view” to make a joke as funny as possible, even if it does not reflect his own opinions.
“In real life, of course, I support trans rights,” he said. “I support all human rights, and trans rights are human rights. Live your best life. Use your preferred pronouns.”
Moments later, he joked that ladies should still “lose the cock.” The audience erupted in laughter.
Gervais Faces Backlash Online
Gervais was met with swift criticism within hours of “SuperNature” debuting on Netflix. Many said they would cancel their Netflix subscriptions because of the transphobia on the platform.
“Ricky Gervais has a new stand up show out on Netflix today,” one person tweeted. “[Five] minutes in and he’s making jokes about trans women attacking & raping people in public bathrooms. To him we exist only as a punchline, a threat, something less than human.”
“Ricky Gervais is a disgrace, he is going to cause hate crime and ultimately the death of Trans folk,” another person added.
Some further claimed that on top of it being offensive, it is lazy to take shots at marginalized communities in the name of comedy.
“This isn’t comedy. This is making cheap, nasty stereotypes out of a minority group,” one person wrote. “Please, if you’re Transgender or Support Trans lives, don’t watch this.”
Others accused Gervais of riding a wave of transphobia that has recently popped up among major comedians. Last year, Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special “The Closer” sparked a wave of backlash over the comedian’s jokes about trans people. Netflix staffers staged a walkout in protest, demanding that the company do more to help LGBTQ+ creators and stand against anti-trans content.
Terra Feld, a former Netflix employee who helped organize the protests, encouraged subscribers to ditch Netflix over Gervais’ recent remarks.
Halsey Says Her Label Won’t Release Her New Song Unless They Can “Fake” A Viral TikTok Moment. Artists Say This Points to a Larger Issue in the Industry
Artist Sizzy Rocket said that record companies are forcing musicians “to fit into this box of virality” in hopes of landing a quick hit.
Halsey Calls Out Record Label
Over the last several years, TikTok has changed nearly every aspect of the music industry by sending viral songs to the top of the Billboard charts. Even major artists like Halsey say they cannot escape the pressure to go viral, sparking concern over how the app is influencing music.
On Sunday, Halsey, who uses she/they pronouns, posted a TikTok saying they had a new song they were eager to release, but their label said they “can’t release it unless they can fake a viral moment on TikTok.”
“Everything is marketing,” Halsey wrote, adding that this issue is impacting “basically every artist” right now.
Countless songs, including chart-toppers like “Old Town Road” and “drivers license” first soared to success on TikTok. Labels are eager to recreate that path in whatever ways they can.
Halsey’s label, Astralwerks-Capitol, gave a statement to Variety claiming its “belief in Halsey as a singular and important artist is total and unwavering.”
“We can’t wait for the world to hear their brilliant new music,” the statement said.
In response, Halsey noted that Astralwerks was the company that signed her before upstreaming her to Capitol. She said this statement in particular “came from the company who believed in me from the jump” and not the company she is “wrestling with now.”
Artists Speak Out
Nearly eight million views later, Halsey’s TikTok prompted fans and people working in the music industry to criticize the practice of forcing songs to go viral.
“Halsey has sold over 100 million records and she is having to put up with this nonsense?” musician Rebecca Ferguson tweeted. “Artists and creatives should be ‘free.’”
“halsey’s tik tok only scratches the surface of what’s happening in music right now,” singer and songwriter Sizzy Rocket added.
While speaking to Rogue Rocket, Sizzy Rocket said that labels and producers don’t understand that making a song and going viral on TikTok are two different art forms. The pressure of going viral often puts artists in positions where they feel their creative integrity could be compromised.
“Artists like myself and Halsey, who require a little bit more time and space to craft our messages, are sort of being forced to fit into this box of virality and so, it’s a big problem,” Sizzy Rocket said.
“As an artist, I can’t just do something to go viral.”
Sizzy Rocket said that labels have approached her to write songs for their more viral artists, oftentimes offering no pay for the session.
“It’s taken me four albums, I just released my fourth album, and ten years to develop this melodic and lyrical style,” she explained. “You know I have a thing, I have a je ne sais quoi, and so to ask me to just give that to a brand new artist who just went viral overnight is truly offensive.”
Smaller Artists Face Bigger Issues
As Halsey’s call-out TikTok has spread online, the “Closer” singer denied that the video was a promotional stunt of its own, arguing she is “way too established to stir something like this up for no reason or resort to this as a marketing tactic.”
But whether it be intentionally or inadvertently, Halsey has drummed up attention for their new music. Smaller artists don’t have the luxury of being able to instantly reach the masses. Sizzy Rocket said that up and comers like herself have to struggle more to get the spotlight, while mainstream artists have a larger fanbase to fall back on.
“I feel like smaller artists are more affected because we’re getting buried, right?” she said. “There’s so much content, there are so many people trying to go viral.”
“I feel like larger artists, because they have a more established and bigger audience, they sort of have access to that attention already,” Sizzy Rocket continued. “But for smaller artists, we sort of have to like, dig, dig through the pile of everyone else sort of grabbing for that trend.”
While Sizzy Rocket does not consider herself a viral artist, she said she did at one point try to go viral on TikTok. After filming the video, she felt it would be of no benefit.
“I just couldn’t post it because I didn’t understand how that sort of cheap grab for attention would help me deliver the message of my music,” she said.
With that said, Sizzy Rocket said she does not blame any TikTok artists who went viral on their own. Instead, she pointed the finger at labels who are trying to drive inorganic viral success while lacking an understanding of how art and social media interact with one another.
“I don’t want to place any blame on the actual TikTok artists who did go viral. I feel like they deserve to make their art as well,” she said. “It’s more about the label prioritizing the platform over the art itself.”
Other artists like Zara Larsson and Florence Welch have bemoaned the pressures they face from their record companies to be active on TikTok. Many agree that the expectations labels have in this arena are unfair to artists.
“labels all want a dove cameron ‘boyfriend’ moment (which i’d argue was rather organic) but how sustainable is that kind of traction as it’s v fleeting + how can artists even replicate that kind of virality,” culture writer Zoya Raza-Sheikh asked on Twitter.
For Halsey, it remains unclear when their new song will see the light of day. In a tweet, they claimed their label was impressed by their TikTok’s traction, but only said “we’ll see” when asked if the song could be released.