- 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.
Netflix To Invest $100 Million in Diversity Initiative
- Netflix will invest $100 million into a creative equity fund over the next five years in an effort to boost diversity both in front of and behind the camera.
- This comes after the streaming service released a report on diversity in its original programming, which found that the company made strides for women and Black characters on screen but lacked in other areas.
- For both film and television, Latino characters only made between 1.7% and 5% of lead roles and main cast members, despite being 12% of the U.S. population.
- The report also found that just 2% of speaking roles in film and 3.3% of speaking roles in series were for LGBTQ characters.
Netflix Invests in Diversity
Netflix announced plans on Friday to invest $100 million into a creative equity fund over the next five years in an effort to boost diversity in all areas of production.
Ted Sarandos, the co-CEO of Netflix, wrote in a blog post explaining that this fund will invest in company programs aimed at identifying, training, and providing job opportunities for-up-and coming talent in the industry. It will invest in numerous organizations with “a strong track record of setting underrepresented communities up for success in the TV and film industries.”
This comes as the streaming giant just released a massive report on its own diversity, done by Dr. Stacy Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. The study analyzed 180 scripted series and 126 films Netflix released in 2018 and 2019 to find where the studio has succeeded and where it needs to break ground.
Dr. Smith said a report of this nature is both unique and historic.
“At the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, we’re not aware of any other company taking a leadership role and making their findings as transparent and rolling out those results to all the communities,” she claimed in a video explaining the results of her research.
“Given the size and scope of Netflix content, particularly as it relates to its entertainment industry peers, the results show one thing very clear — Netflix is committed to inclusion across its content portfolio,” she continued.
Findings of the Report
Among the more positive findings, the report said that Netflix programs reflect gender equality when it comes to main roles, with 48% of films and 54% of shows having women leads or co-leads. It also found that 19% of lead roles went to male and female characters with unrepresented backgrounds, which is more than the industry at large did in the top grossing films of 2018 and 2019.
When it comes to behind-the-camera film roles for women, Netflix is also outpacing the progress the industry is making overall. The company hired women to direct 23% of its movies, compared to just 7.6% of women who directed the top grossing films of 2018 and 2019. Netflix also employed female writers and producers at a significantly higher rate.
The report found that the more women were working behind the camera, the more women wound up in front of it as well.
“Inclusion happens when women are given the keys to the kingdom,” Dr. Smith said in a video explaining the results of her research.
Still, there were many strides Netflix has yet to make when it comes to representation. While it did hire women of color to direct its films at three times the rate the industry in general did, they still only totaled just over 6% of directors for the studio. When it came to women of color directing television, Netflix fell behind industry-wide statistics.
The report found that 15% of leads and co-leads were Black characters and almost 20% of main casts were Black, which is on par for the U.S. population. However, when it comes to other underrepresented groups, the studio lacked.
For both film and television, Latino characters only made up between 1.7% and 5% of leads or main cast members, despite being 12% of the U.S. population. Additionally, the report noted that when it came to series, just 3% of creators and producers and 2% of writers and directors were Latino. For film, the studio employed just one Latino writer and director and only five producers.
LGBTQ characters and characters with disabilities were likewise underrepresented. Just 2% of speaking roles for film and 3.3% of speaking roles for TV went to characters that identified as LGBTQ.
Less than 2% of speaking film characters and 2.4% of speaking television characters had disabilities, compared to 27% of the American population identifying as having some sort of disability.
What Netflix Will Do Next
Netflix plans to take this data and build upon its findings.
“Great stories can truly come from anywhere, be created by anyone, whatever their background, and be loved everywhere,” Sarandos wrote. “And by better understanding how we are doing, we hope to stimulate change not just at Netflix but across our industry more broadly.”
During a virtual symposium, leaders at Netflix discussed the research and why it is important to the industry and the company.
“Part of young boys and girls seeing themselves, seeing who they are in those roles and making sure that we don’t have ‘Black Panther’ once a decade, that we have films where young people of color, young women can see themselves as heroes in active roles,” Netflix’s Vice President of Global film, Scott Stuber said.
He added that the new Netflix film “Jingle Jangle” starring Kegan Michael Key and Forest Whitaker was just one recent example of diversity on screen making a difference.
“The outpouring from the Black community, having a holiday film that represented them and their families, was an incredible thing for our filmmaker and for our company. And I think we have to continue to think in those terms.”
Sarandos says Netflix is committed to its work with Dr. Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. The two will work together to release a report every two years between now and 2026.
See what others are saying: (Variety) (Deadline) (New York Times)
Lady Gaga’s Dog Walker Shot, Singer’s 2 French Bulldogs Stolen
- Lady Gaga’s dog walker, 30-year-old Ryan Fischer, was shot Wednesday night by thieves in Los Angeles who stole two of the singer’s French Bulldogs.
- Fischer was transported to the hospital in unknown condition, though he appeared responsive when talking to authorities at the scene.
- Gaga is reportedly offering a $500,000 reward for the safe return of her pets.
- Authorities said it wasn’t yet clear if the suspect knew the dogs belonged to Gaga, noting that French Bulldogs are often targeted because they’re expensive and in high demand.
Dog Walker Shot in Armed Robbery
Lady Gaga’s dog walker was shot and robbed of the singer’s two French bulldogs in Los Angeles Wednesday night, according to TMZ.
The incident happened at around 9:40 p.m. and the suspects remain at large. The victim, 30-year-old Ryan Fischer was transported to the hospital in unknown condition, though he appeared responsive when talking to authorities at the scene.
Aerial footage from ABC7 shows Fischer lying on the sidewalk as responders rushed to help him, cradling Gaga’s third dog who managed to run away from the attackers.
Tabloids initially reported that Fischer was shot in the chest four times and was recovering well, but authorities have not explicitly confirmed many details about his condition at this point.
TMZ then released a graphic surveillance video Thursday of the entire ordeal. The footage shows Fischer being grabbed by the robbers, who appear to shoot him once before driving off in a white car with two of the three dogs he was walking.
In the video, Fischer can be heard desperately calling out for help, saying he was shot in the chest.
Suspects At Large, Motives Unknown
Authorities said it wasn’t yet clear if the suspect knew the dogs belonged to Gaga, noting that French Bulldogs are often targeted because they’re expensive and in high demand.
According to TMZ, Gaga, who is currently in Rome shooting a new movie, is “extremely upset.” Several outlets claim she is offering a $500,000 reward for the safe return of her pets “no questions” asked.
An email address has also been created for anyone who may have information about the case: KojiandGustav@gmail.com.
U.K. Health Official Pushes Back Against Gwyneth Paltrow’s COVID-19 Recovery Advice
- Professor Stephen Powis, a senior official from the U.K.’s National Health Service, is warning people against following recommendations that actress and Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow shared for dealing with long-term COVID-19 cases.
- Among other things, Paltrow said she is doing “intuitive fasting,” eating several sugar-free products, and taking Goop vitamins and “super powders” to regain the energy she lost after suffering from the coronavirus.
- While Powis said he wishes her well in her recovery, he added, “some of the solutions she’s recommending are really not the solutions we’d recommend in the NHS.”
- “We need to take long Covid seriously and apply serious science,” he continued. “All influencers who use social media have a duty of responsibility and a duty of care around that.”
Paltrow Gives Long-Term COVID Suggestions
A top health official in the United Kingdom is urging people against the recommendations that actress Gwyneth Paltrow shared for dealing with long-haul effects of COVID-19.
Paltrow, who is the founder of the wellness blog Goop, wrote in a recent post that she caught COVID-19 early on and it left her with long-term brain fog and fatigue.
She also said she had high levels of inflammation in her body, so she consulted Dr. Will Cole, a “functional medicine practitioner” who is not a medical doctor, rather a “doctor of natural medicine,” to find a solution. She began his “intuitive fasting” protocol, which is a keto and plant-based, but “flexible,” diet that requires her to fast every day until 11:00 am.
Paltrow recommended several foods and other products that fit in with this lifestyle, including sugar-free kimchi, sugar-free kombucha, and frequent use of coconut aminos. She also said she has been doing an infrared sauna and drinking sugar-free, alcohol-free and calorie-free cocktails called Seedlip. (She added that she prefers to drink those out of a $112 old fashioned glass, which is currently sold out on Goop’s website.)
Paltrow, of course, also touted some of Goop’s own vitamin products. She said that the Madame Ovary supplement and G.Tox Detoxifying Superpowder, in particular, are “critical for me right now.”
She added in her post that she has more energy as a result. “Everything I’m doing feels good, like a gift to my body,” she wrote.
NHS Leader Urges Caution
However, Professor Stephen Powis, a senior National Health Service official, is not so sold on her regimen.
“In the last few days I see Gwyneth Paltrow is unfortunately suffering from the effects of Covid. We wish her well, but some of the solutions she’s recommending are really not the solutions we’d recommend in the NHS,” he said, according to a BBC News report.
“We need to take long Covid seriously and apply serious science,” he continued. “All influencers who use social media have a duty of responsibility and a duty of care around that.”
When it comes to what people with long-term COVID-19 symptoms should be doing, many health officials have recommended going to post-COVID clinics. Research on long-term coronavirus cases is still ongoing and trips to these clinics can aid that research and hopefully provide patients with some answers.
This is far from the first time Paltrow, who has recommended vaginal jade eggs and sells expensive vitamin supplements, has come under fire for her medical advice. It is also not the first time her remarks regarding the coronavirus pandemic have faced backlash.
In a recent interview with The New York Times, she seemingly suggested that mask-wearing became a trend after she wore one in February, long before they became mandated in the U.S.
“This is a familiar pattern in my life,” she told the outlet. “I do something early, everyone is like, ‘What is she doing? She’s insane.’ And then it’s adopted by the culture.”