Watching any golden nugget of pop culture launch into the cultural stratosphere doesn’t come without an almost guaranteed shoe drop. Take Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts,” for instance: Two years after its inception, the anthemic hit reached No. 1 status on the Billboard charts and spawned countless treasured parodies and certifiably relevant quips. DNA tests have certainly undergone an unnecessary but fun rebranding as folks scramble to scientifically declare themselves “that bitch” at every turn. It’s a sign of Lizzo’s impact, you see.
But as the song’s popularity maintains a fever pitch, the singer-rapper-flutist faces plagiarism accusations from songwriting brothers Justin and Jeremiah Raisen who, per Stereogum, claim via an Instagram post to have been part of the writing session for a song called “Healthy.” As indicated in the attached video, the song allegedly led to the formation of “Truth Hurts.” They also note that the iconic DNA test line came from a meme that was shared during the session. In response, Lizzo has released a statement addressing the claims levied by the Raisens. While she acknowledges that the line did come from a meme, which she later learned was inspired by a tweet (the internet!), she denies that the men had any influence on the final product.
“There was no one in the room when I wrote Truth Hurts, except me, Ricky Reed, and my tears,” Lizzo wrote. “The creator of the tweet is the person I’m sharing my success with… not these men.” Meanwhile, the originator of the tweet that ultimately inspired the lyric, London artist Mina Lioness, confirmed that Lizzo has officially credited her as a writer. While this aspect of the overarching conflict appears to be settled, this does draw additional attention to the ongoing struggle between artists with huge platforms and our ubiquitous meme culture that inspires so much modern work. It’s an incredibly muddy area that often leaves the originators of this highly accessible content without proper credit or compensation while those in power benefit (culturally and financially) from their cleverness. To add, it’s an issue that far predates Lizzo’s rise to fame and doesn’t often lead to a favorable solution.
As for the brothers claiming to have been burned on the matter for two years: In addition to Lizzo’s response, the artist’s legal team has filed a suit against Justin and Jeremiah Raisen, which the team has confirmed in a statement to Stereogum.
Today we filed a lawsuit on Lizzo’s behalf to establish, in a court of law, that the Raisens are not writers of Truth Hurts and have no right to profit from the song’s success. The Raisens did not collaborate with Lizzo or anyone else to create the song, and 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. Although it is all too commonplace for successful artists to be subjected to these type of opportunistic claims, it is nevertheless disappointing that Lizzo had to take this step to put an end to the Raisens’ false claims and their campaign of harassment.