- 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.
Childish Gambino Sued for Alleged Copyright Infringement
- Florida rapper Kidd Wes filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in New York Thursday against Grammy award-winning artist Childish Gambino.
- Kidd Wes claims Childish Gambino’s 2018 song “This Is America” plagiarized his 2016 song “Made in America,” arguing that the two songs have “nearly-identical unique rhythmic, lyrical, and thematic compositional and performance content.”
- Kidd Wes’ lawyers said his client is seeking damages from profits for record sales, endorsements, and other income sources.
Childish Gambino Faces Lawsuit
Grammy award-winning rapper Childish Gambino, AKA Donald Glover, is being sued for alleged copyright infringement by Florida rapper Kidd Wes.
According to Pitchfork, he filed a lawsuit in a New York federal court on Thursday arguing that “the substantial similarities between both songs include, but are not limited to, nearly-identical unique rhythmic, lyrical, and thematic compositional and performance content contained in the chorus—or ‘hook’—sections that are the centerpieces of both songs.”
Pitchfork reported that defendants in the suit include Glover, the song’s co-writer Young Thug, producer Lüdwig Goransson, Kobalt Music, RCA Records, Sony Music Entertainment, Young Stoner Life Publishing LLC, 300 Entertainment, Atlantic Records, Warner Music Group, Roc Nation, Universal Music Publishing Group, and Warner Chappell Music.
“This Is America” and its accompanying music video were praised for providing stark social commentary on America’s history with racism, inequality, and gun violence. In 2019, it won both Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards, making it the first rap song to take home the prize in either of those top categories. The song has been streamed over 465 million times on Spotify and the music video has been viewed on YouTube over 773 million times.
Lawyers Argue Similarities Are “Beyond Coincidental”
The music video for “Made in America” has just over 415,000 views on YouTube. Nwosuocha has 12,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. While Nwosuocha may have a smaller platform than Glover, his lawyers claim it is no mistake that the two songs sound alike.
“The similarities between the two pieces of music are beyond coincidental, and amounts to infringement as alleged in the complaint filed by our client, Emelike Nwosuocha, professionally known as Kidd Wes,” attorneys Imran H. Ansari and La’Shawn N. Thomas told Pitchfork. “Mr. Nwosuocha is confident in his claims, and simply seeks the credit and compensation he deserves for the unauthorized use of his music.”
Nwosuocha is reportedly seeking damages from profit in roughly 43 instances, including record sales, ringtones, endorsements, and record masters.
Glover has not responded publicly to the lawsuit. This is not the first time he has been accused of plagiarism over the song “This Is America.” Previously, he was accused of taking inspiration from New York rapper Jase Harley’s song “American Pharaoh.” At the time, Harley said he did not want to take legal action. Glover’s manager also denied Glover stole from Harley’s work.
See what others are saying: (Pitchfork) (A.V. Club) (The Guardian)
MrBeast Accused of Creating Toxic Workplace
- YouTuber MrBeast, who is known for his massive giveaways, was accused of fostering a toxic workplace in a Tuesday article by The New York Times.
- One former employee claimed he quit after a week because MrBeast had unreasonable demands and “nothing ever worked for him.”
- Another, named Matt Turner, said he was berated almost every day and was often called a “phrase used to insult people with mental disabilities.”
- Turner previously posted several videos about his experience working for MrBeast. In one, he praised the YouTuber and thanked him for a fun experience, but in another, he painted a negative and hostile picture of MrBeast.
MrBeast Accused of Creating Toxic Workplace
YouTuber MrBeast was accused of creating a toxic workplace in a Tuesday article from The New York Times.
Jimmy Donaldson, who goes by MrBeast online, is known for his massive giveaways and “stunt philanthropy” videos. He has gained a substantial following and as The Times, noted, is a huge influence for many young creators.
However, former employees said that behind the scenes, Donaldson is a very different person. According to The Times, his corporate entities “have been rife with favoritism and bullying.”
Matt Turner, who was an editor for Donaldson between 2018 and 2019, said that he was berated “almost every day” and that Donaldson often called him by a “phrase used to insult people with mental disabilities,” which would leave him in tears.
According to the report, Donaldson initially largely hired friends to work for him, but as his empire grew, so did his number of staffers. Turner told The Times that while those friends got to be in videos, he struggled to be acknowledged.
“I was not to be credited for anything I did,” Turner said. “I’d ask for credit, he’d credit someone else.”
Another former staffer, Nate Anderson, said he worked for Donaldson for a week in 2018 before quitting because of what he described as unreasonable demands.
“Nothing ever worked for him,” he told The Times. “He always wanted it a certain way.”
When Anderson uploaded a video describing his experience, he was met with hateful messages and even death threats from Donaldson’s fans. Turner said the same happened to him when he posted videos and wrote about his experience on social media.
The Times spoke to, 20-year-old Akash Rathod, a fan who found Donaldson’s silence regarding these complaints and the subsequent death threats from his followers troubling.
“There needs to be more from Mr. Beast on the issues his fans are causing,” Rathod said. “It’s not enough just to make positive videos.”
Donaldson did not give a comment to The Times for their piece. A representative for him declined to talk about the workplace allegations and only acknowledged a part of the piece that briefly mentioned Donaldson’s past use of slurs and offensive jokes.
“When Jimmy was a teenager and was first starting out, he carelessly used, on more than one occasion, a gay slur,” the representative said.
They added that he now “knows there is no excuse for homophobic rhetoric” and “has grown up and matured into someone that doesn’t speak like that.”
Former Employee’s Previous Remarks
Rogue Rocket reached out to Donaldson for comment. In response, MrBeast sent a clip that Turner previously posted where he discussed his work experience in a much brighter light. In that video, which has since been deleted but exists in reuploads, Turner referred to the gig as a “dream job” and recommended others work for Donaldson.
“If you have the opportunity to get this job that I had, totally take it,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun. It was basically just like a friendship. And going to work was a blast each and every day.”
Turner then said his decision to part ways from the role was mutual, as the company knew he would not be in the job for the long haul. Turner said he was going to college, wanted to backpack across Asia, and was considering moving to Los Angeles eventually, so they decided to part ways.
He also claimed that even after he was no longer working there, Donaldson, who had been paying for his rent while he worked for him, continued to pay for him to stay in his apartment and encouraged him to stay as long as he needed. Turner said he even continued to receive paychecks after he left the job for an unspecified period of time.
“And that is basically funding my trip to backpack across Asia,” he explained. “He’s saying, ‘You don’t have to work for me, but I’ll still pay you. And because of that, I hope that lets you live in L.A., go to college, backpack Asia, whatever you want to do after this, I want to set you up for that.’”
“If you’re watching this MrBeast, I fucking love you bro,” he continued.
However, these are not the only remarks Turner has made about his experience working for Donaldson prior to the release of The New York Times report. He previously posted several tweets, which were later taken down, describing a hostile environment where he was “bullied” and “having mental breakdowns day after day.”
He also posted another video, which was deleted but has been partially reuploaded by other channels, where he said that he only posted positive remarks about Donaldson to “clout chase” because he was afraid of what would happen if he spoke ill of the YouTuber. He then painted a much more confrontational picture of Donaldson, telling a story where Donaldson allegedly wiped an entire project and cursed at him after being unhappy with an edit.
Taylor Laurenz, who wrote the article about Donaldson in The New York Times, told Insider that this story is reflective of a larger issue within creator culture.
“For a large portion of Gen Z that doesn’t want to be creators themselves, working for a creator seems like an absolute dream job,” she said. “But we see time and time again that these creators have basically little to no management experiences and, behind the scenes, can create a really hostile, stressful environment.”
“Working for a 22-year-old YouTube star isn’t going to be the most professional work environment,” she added. “But if you are posturing yourself as a business leader or the next Elon Musk, you should think about the type of work culture you’re creating and what you are rewarding.”
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Insider) (Dexerto)
Will Smith To Make Docuseries About Getting Fit After Saying He’s “In The Worst Shape” of His Life
- Will Smith announced on Tuesday that he will star in a YouTube Originals series called “Best Shape of My Life,” which will premiere in 2022 and follow the actor on a fitness and weight loss journey.
- The news comes just a few days after Smith shared that he was in “the worst shape” of his life in an Instagram post that resonated with several people as many across the country struggle with pandemic weight gain.
- “This is the body that carried me through an entire pandemic and countless days grazing thru the pantry,” Smith wrote in his announcement post on Instagram. “I love this body, but I wanna FEEL better… Hope it works!”
Will Smith to Star in YouTube Originals Docu-series
Just days after sharing that he is in the “worst shape” of his life, actor Will Smith announced on Tuesday that he will be starring in a YouTube Originals series called “Best Shape of My Life.”
“You’re a real one for this,” YouTuber Casey Neistat wrote.
“Fucking love it. That’s confidence,” Smith’s Suicide Squad co-star Joel Kinnaman added.
According to the show’s official description, “Best Shape of My Life” will follow “the story of Will Smith, looking up one day to find himself in middle age, rebuilding his body into the best shape of his life and getting his groove back along the way.” In it, he will challenge his physical abilities with the help of pro-athletes, scientists, other experts, and YouTube creators.
The docuseries will air in six parts in 2022. It marks his second project with YouTube Originals, following his 2018 bungee-jumping stunt that raised money for charity to celebrate his 50th birthday. “Best Shape of My Life” is being produced by Westbrook Media, a company the Fresh Prince star launched with his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
Series Will Address Pandemic Weight Gain
“This is the body that carried me through an entire pandemic and countless days grazing thru the pantry,” Smith wrote on Instagram. “I love this body, but I wanna FEEL better”
“Imma get in the BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE,” he continued. “Hope it works!”
Pandemic weight gain has been a common issue for people all over the world. According to Healthline, 61% of Americans said they gained weight as the world shuttered because of COVID-19.