By Layna Holk
While her more popular, Hip-Hop, Bop music that has granted her the gift of being an American household name in 2019 was written and produced years ago, Lizzo, Minneapolis-originating Melissa Jefferson, has not been able to forget the writing days of her 2017 single “Truth Hurts” that graces the airwaves today.
Most fans and common pop culture consumers have heard of, or seen, the legal disputes Lizzo has been the center of since October 2019, allegations piling up over the number one song’s songwriting credits, among others, and the allegations have not quieted down since.
Originally, as New York Times’ Ben Sisario reported over a course of a few weeks in October 2019, a question that had been quietly in dispute for months had come to light. As the song’s official credited list of writers for “Truth Hurts” consist of: Lizzo, under her birthname Melissa Jefferson; Ricky Reed, her primary producer; Tele, another producer; and Jesse Saint John. Nonetheless, a pair of songwriting brothers, Justin and Jeremiah Raisen, say they have been denied credit and compensation for their contribution to the song.
The Raisen brothers claim they held a joint songwriting session in April 2017 with Lizzo, Saint John, and Yves Rothman, working on the creation of a song called “Healthy.” While the single was never released, that was where the original opening line “I just took a DNA test…” for “Truth Hurts” originated from. Pulled from a viral tweet off of Saint John’s phone, which spurred a laugh among the group laugh, Jeremiah Raisen suggested that the lyric be included in the song. Instead the line was sung in a strikingly familiar tone in what was later a six-week number one song on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
As credit disputes are common in the music industry even though they are not often in the public eye, “Truth Hurts” is a different breed, as the No. 1 song is a crucial part of Lizzo’s persona and brand, the rapper even applying for a trademark on the coined phrase, “100% That Bitch.”
In Lizzo’s statement made on Instagram on October 23, 2020 at 4:30 PM, the feminist singer/songwriter, and her lawyer Cynthia Arato, diminished the claims that she sang anything other than: “a meme that made me feel like 100% that bitch. I sang that line in the demo [of another song named ‘Healthy’]… There was no one in the room when I wrote Truth Hurts, except me, Ricky Reed, and my tears. That song is my life, and its words are my truth,” as reported by Justin Curto of Vulture.
A week or so after the court case settled, Lizzo granted songwriting credit to the Twitter user originating the “I just took a DNA test and found out I’m 100% that bitch” meme launching Lizzo’s career, @MinaLioness, a British singer herself, who later tweeted: “I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m a credited writer for the number one song on Billboard.”
Even though the Raisen brothers attempt for 5% royalties was never accepted over the two-year legal battle, they are only the first in a long line of lawsuits coming the, newly, Bop Queen’s way.
CeCe Peniston, singer and songwriter of her own 1991 hit, “Finally,” has been suing Lizzo simultaneously over the past few months over allegations regarding Lizzo’s 2019 hit, “Juice,” sounding similar.
While four months have gone by since the original filed lawsuit was rejected, producers Justin Raisen, Jeremiah Raisen, and now Justin “Yves” Rothman are back filing that they helped co-create “Healthy,” which is similar enough to “Truth Hurts” to be credited for the Grammy-winning tune. As reported by Halle Kiefer of Vulture, Variety states the trio has “sound recordings, videos, photographs, and musicology’ backing up their claim, an assertion Lizzo has previously denied.”
The current counterclaim, made just last month in late February 2020, is filed against Lizzo seeking judgment from the court that “Truth Hurts” is the song that “originated in Justin Raisen’s home recording studio from a collaboration among” their clients, alongside Lizzo and Jesse Saint John.
Tune into your personal social medium and check the news, as the next question that will be circulating the web over Lizzo’s abundance of catchy bops, is if the court will get a VIP listening party of the unreleased single “Healthy” before the rest of the world, or ever for that matter.