Brow Beat

Lizzo Wants a Judge to Decide She Didn’t Plagiarize “Truth Hurts”

Lizzo holds a microphone.
Lizzo performs at the Hollywood Bowl on Oct. 19 in Los Angeles.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Lizzo is asking a federal court to determine once and for all who deserves credit for “Truth Hurts.” The song, which has now topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for seven weeks, is at the center of a plagiarism dispute, in particular over the lyric “I just took a DNA test/ Turns out I’m 100 percent that bitch.” British musician Mina Lioness has claimed credit for the line, pointing to a tweet she posted in February 2017, and on Wednesday was finally recognized for her contribution.

The situation has not yet been entirely resolved, however, because Lioness is one of several people asking for recognition for “Truth Hurts.” Songwriters Justin and Jeremiah Raisen came forward last week to publicly claim that the song borrows parts of the melody and the “DNA test” lyric from “Healthy,” a demo they recorded with Lizzo in April 2017. “We’ve tried to sort this out quietly for the last two years, only asking for 5% each but were shutdown every time,” they wrote on Instagram to accompany a video that plays snippets of both songs for comparison.

Lizzo responded Wednesday, saying that only she and producer Ricky Reed were in the room when “Truth Hurts” was written, denying that the Raisen brothers had anything to do with the line or its delivery, and explaining that the disputed lyric was inspired by a meme. “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.”

The Raisens acknowledged Lioness’ contribution in their claim, writing that “if Ricky and Lizzo’s team decide to settle this dispute with us, we would like to share some of the proceeds with Mina for her influence on Healthy.” But though that team has since awarded Lioness credit, they’re now asking a judge to determine that Raisen brothers and an additional collaborator, Yves Rothman, don’t deserve the same. A lawsuit filed Wednesday asserts that the men “expressly withdrew any claim to ‘Truth Hurts,’ in writing” and asks for a judicial declaration stating that they have no ownership over and should not profit from the song.

Lizzo’s attorney elaborated in a statement to Variety:

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.