- 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.
Former “Real Housewives” Star Bethenny Frankel Sues TikTok Over Ads Misusing Likeness
The reality star said social media has become “a breeding ground for scams.”
TikTok Hit With Class Action Suit
Businesswoman and reality star Bethenny Frankel filed a class action lawsuit against TikTok on Thursday, accusing the social media app of platforming fraudulent ads that misuse the identities of influencers.
According to the lawsuit, several videos “purloined the images, voices, and content” of Frankel and others in an effort “to sell counterfeit items.”
Frankel claims that one advertisement used footage of her to make it appear as though she was endorsing a knockoff cardigan, even though she never authorized the use of her image. According to the lawsuit, Frankel attempted to warn her followers that the ad was misusing her persona, but TikTok allegedly removed that video for being “abusive.”
“Despite demands on TikTok to remove and police this corrupt conduct, TikTok has ignored such demands, and even taken countervailing positions,” the lawsuit claims. “Aside from not being compensated, the reputation and brand of Ms. Frankel and Class Members are being damaged and tarnished through unauthorized associations with counterfeit goods and other products that they do not support.”
It further alleged that TikTok is “unlawfully” allowing the use of Frankel’s “persona, voice, content, and likeness” in a manner that “constitutes unfair competition and deceptive trade practices.”
In addition to previously starring on “The Real Housewives of New York,” Frankel is also the founder of lifestyle and food brand Skinnygirl, and disaster relief initiative BStrong.
The Wild West of Social Media
In a TikTok video last month, the former Real Housewife told her followers she was considering taking legal action against the video app. As for why she took her complaints up with TikTok as opposed to the brands behind the sham ads, she said that the bigger issue is “the wild wild west of social media.”
“This is something that has to be addressed because it’s a breeding ground for scams,” she said.
After the fake ads appeared to show Frankel giving the knockoff cardigan a thumbs up, many of her followers thought she “sold out” by “hocking” the product. According to Frankel, TikTok offers little help in repairing the issue.
“There’s nobody to call at TikTok,” she said. “You know, calling China, you’re reporting something, it’s like small potatoes.”
After news broke that she filed the class action complaint, Frankel posted a statement to Instagram saying her demands “for creators and consumers is correct and just.”
“Consumers and creators are being exploited with no recourse or power to defend and protect themselves,” Frankel wrote. “That ends now.”
“Social media, and its impact as the most powerful medium on the planet, cannot be a reckless marketplace where people risk their rights and privacy being violated without protection.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Insider) (Reuters)
Halyna Hutchins Family Settles With “Rust” Production, Filming to Resume in 2023
Alec Baldwin said everyone involved was motivated by the “desire to do what is best for Halyna’s son.”
The family of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was fatally shot on the set of “Rust” last year, reached a settlement with the production over a wrongful death lawsuit on Wednesday.
The lawsuit was filed in February, several months after Hutchins’ death in New Mexico last October. The cast and crew were rehearsing a scene that involved producer and actor Alec Baldwin pointing a gun toward the camera. Baldwin claims he did not know it was loaded when it fired, killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.
The actor also claims he did not actually pull the trigger, but investigators determined it must have been pulled.
Hutchins’ husband Matthew filed the wrongful death suit on behalf of himself and his young son. It claimed that the production did not follow proper safety procedures and endangered the crew via reckless cost-cutting measures. Baldwin was listed as a defendant, as well as the set’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, first assistant director, Dave Halls, and others involved with the film.
The amount of the settlement was not disclosed, but as part of the agreement, the production of “Rust” will resume in January 2023. The late cinematographer’s husband will join the project as an executive producer.
“I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame (to the producers or Mr. Baldwin),” he said in a statement. “All of us believe Halyna’s death was a terrible accident. I am grateful that the producers and the entertainment community have come together to pay tribute to Halyna’s final work.”
A Tribute to Hutchins
Souza will return as the director. In a statement, he said his “every effort on this film will be devoted to honoring” Hutchins.
For his part, Baldwin shared the news of the settlement on his Instagram Wednesday morning.
“Throughout this difficult process, everyone has maintained the specific desire to do what is best for Halyna’s son,” he wrote. “We are grateful to everyone who contributed to the resolution of this tragic and painful situation.”
There is still an ongoing criminal probe happening separately from this lawsuit. It is unclear what impact the settlement will have on that, if any.
Last month, Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies sent a letter to the New Mexico Board of Finance seeking additional funding to prosecute up to four people over the incident, including Baldwin. So far, no charges have been filed.
In April, the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau fined the production after it found multiple safety violations on set.
See what others are saying: (The Los Angeles Times) (The Hollywood Reporter) (Deadline)
The Try Guys Address Removal of Ned Fulmer: “We Had No Idea This Was Going On”
The group said that by severing ties with Fulmer, it felt like they were losing a friend.
“That Is Not What We Stand For”
Digital comedy and sketch group The Try Guys posted a video on Monday night explaining the recent removal of member Ned Fulmer.
Last week, the Internet was filled with speculation that Fulmer, who is married with children, was having an affair with a staffer for The Try Guys. Fulmer confirmed the reports, claiming he had a “consensual workplace relationship.” The Try Guys quickly announced that Fulmer would no longer be working with the group as the result of an internal review.
In Monday’s video, the remaining three members, Eugene Lee Yang, Zach Kornfeld, and Keith Habersberger, explained what led to their decision to remove Fulmer. While the trio noted there were legal issues that prevented them from sharing certain details, they wanted to be as transparent as possible.
“On Labor Day weekend, multiple fans alerted us that they had seen Ned and an employee engaging in public romantic behavior,” Habersberger explained. “We reached out to check on that employee and Ned confirmed the reports, and since confirmed that this had been going on for some time, which was obviously very shocking to us.”
He emphasized that the rest of the group “had no idea this was going on.”
After this, The Try Guys reached out to a variety of lawyers and HR professionals to make sure they handled the situation correctly.
“This is something we took very seriously,” Yang said. “We refused to sweep things under the rug. That is not who we are, and that is not what we stand for.”
Removing Fulmer From Content
They decided to immediately remove Fulmer from work activities and hired an HR rep to conduct a review. Fulmer was also withdrawn from releases pending the results of that review.
As part of this, his video section was erased, he was digitally taken out of some content, and he was not included in merch drops. The Try Guys said this was a long and tedious process.
“Honestly, I want to give major props to our editing staff for how deftly they handled that,” Kornfeld said. “There are several videos that we have deemed as fully unreleasable, you will never see them, and that is due to his involvement. And that is a decision that has cost us lots of money.”
“We will not be able to recoup that money,” he continued. “But it’s a decision we stand by proudly.”
The group declined to share details of the review but claimed it found that Fulmer engaged in “conduct unbecoming” of the team. Because of this, Yang, Kornfeld, and Habersberger gave written consent on Sept. 16 to ax Fulmer as a manager and employee of The Try Guys company.
The three said they were always planning to make a public statement about their decision, but were initially waiting out of respect to the families and employees involved. As online speculation arose, they chose to deal with it sooner.
“We’re losing a friend, we’re losing someone we built a company with, we have countless memories with, we just made a TV show together,” Kornfeld said. “I’m sure many of you feel the same way.”
According to the group, some upcoming videos featuring Fulmer will be edited to remove him. They said they are currently taking time to reimagine their channel.