Who wrote Lizzo’s hit “Truth Hurts”? That question may now be settled in a court of law.
Last week, two songwriting brothers accused Lizzo of denying them credit for the song, one of the biggest hits of the year. The brothers, Justin and Jeremiah Raisen, said they had contributed to an early songwriting session that yielded the track’s signature line.
A lawyer for Lizzo denied their claim at the time, but now the singer has sued the Raisens, as well as another writer, Yves Rothman, who made his own claim about “Truth Hurts.”
Lizzo’s suit, filed in United States District Court in Los Angeles on Wednesday, seeks a declaratory judgment that Rothman and the Raisens had no part in creating “Truth Hurts,” and asks for other unspecified damages.
In an interview with The New York Times, and in statements on social media, the Raisens said that the origins of “Truth Hurts” and the signature line that begins “I just took a DNA test” came in a songwriting session in April 2017, in which the brothers worked with Lizzo, Rothman and another writer, Jesse Saint John. As part of that session, the brothers said, they were all inspired by an online meme that was rooted in a recent tweet by a British singer named Mina Lioness.
The “DNA test” lyric has become so central to Lizzo’s fame that she has applied for a trademark on the line’s final phrase — “100% that bitch” — and sells T-shirts using it.
The Raisens argued that their session was collaborative, and so they deserved a share of the credits when Lizzo and her producer, Ricky Reed, took that line and later used it in “Truth Hurts.” (The credited songwriters for “Truth Hurts” include Lizzo, whose real name is Melissa Jefferson, along with Reed, Saint John and Tele, another producer.)
Lizzo’s lawsuit denies that, saying that neither the Raisen brothers nor Rothman — who, according to the suit, made his own claim to “Truth Hurts” last week — had anything to do with creating her hit song. The suit further accuses the Raisens of “engaging in a pattern of harassment” against Lizzo and “threatening to ‘go public’” with their claims unless they received a share of the song.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Lizzo said: “There was no one in the room when I wrote Truth Hurts, except me, Ricky Reed, and my tears.”
Her suit notes that before the Raisens made their current claim against “Truth Hurts,” in September, they first lodged and then withdrew a similar complaint. Lizzo’s representatives believe this should have disqualified the Raisens from pursuing their claim a second time.
Lioness, the writer of the tweet, had complained that she also deserved credit, and that Lizzo and her representatives “have been ignoring my whole presence.”
But on Wednesday, Lizzo said she would give Lioness credit as a writer of “Truth Hurts” and a share of the song’s royalties.
“The creator of the tweet is the person I am sharing my success with,” Lizzo wrote in a statement posted on Twitter. “Not these men. Period.”
Minutes later, Lioness thanked Lizzo — and her managers — and wrote on Twitter: “I just took a DNA Test, turns out I’m a credited writer for the number one song on Billboard.”
When asked about the suit, Justin Raisen said, “This makes me not want to make music professionally anymore. This is sad.” He praised Lizzo for sharing royalties with Lioness but called that decision “obviously a political tactic.”
“Truth Hurts” has been No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for seven weeks, and may be on the next Grammy ballot for both record and song of the year; Lizzo is also considered a top contender for best new artist.