Updated: October 24, 2019
Minnesota hip-hop artist Lizzo has officially reached the tipping point in her career. After years of releasing original music and performing her songs across the US, her hard work is finally paying off.
Her song “Truth Hurts,” from her 2019 album Cuz I Love You, has recently made its way to regular radio rotation. In the month of May 2019, “Truth Hurts” peaked at number four on Spotify and has also landed on the European and Canadian charts.
On September 3, 2019, just days after her live performance at the VMA’s, “Truth Hurts” claimed the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, surpassing Taylor Swift’s “Lover.”
Her track stayed at number one for an impressive seven weeks in a row, the longest-running number-one song ever recorded by a female artist.
The first time I heard “Truth Hurts,” I thought the chorus sounded oddly familiar. Play the video below and listen for yourself.
It makes sense why this song is so catchy and easy to listen to. Lizzo’s vocal melody is nearly identical to Rae Sremmurd’s 2016 hit “Black Beatles” featuring Gucci Mane.
“Truth Hurts” was released on September 19, 2017, almost exactly a year after “Black Beatles” was released.
That’s not the only problem. Songwriters Justin & Jeremiah Raisen are claiming that Lizzo had worked with the brothers in their studio, recording a demo for a song titled “Healthy.”
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The Truth about “Truth Hurts” On April 11th, 2017, we wrote a song called “Healthy” w/ Lizzo, Jesse St John, and Yves Rothman at our studio. “I just took a DNA test turns out I’m 100% that bitch” was taken from “Healthy” and used in “Truth Hurts”. 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 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 shutdown every time. Coming forward publicly to family, friends, artists, and colleagues seems to be the only way at this point in relieving some of our emotional distress caused by this. The last thing we want to do is throw any negativity toward Lizzo’s momentum and movement as a cultural figure. If we believe in what she’s preaching, believing in ourselves & our own voices is something we thought she’d understand. Shout out to the singer Mina Lioness ( @minalioness ) for tweeting “I just did a DNA test turns out I’m 100% that bitch”. A meme of that came up in our writing session & inspired the lyric and melody we wrote together. 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. The clip below shows a video & photos from the day we wrote “Healthy” along with the comparisons between the two works. All the Love, Justin & Jeremiah Raisen #lizzo #truthhurts #healthy #billboard
Justin and Jeremiah say they helped write the chords and melody to the song, and have been denied any sort of credit from Lizzo’s team. To make matters worse, London singer Mina Lioness also claimed that Lizzo plagiarized a tweet she made back in February of 2017.
I did a DNA test and found out I'm 100% that bitch.— Legendina (@MinaLioness) February 25, 2017
The story goes, the Raisen brothers came across the tweet while in the studio with Lizzo and that’s how the lyrics ended up in the demo for “Healthy.” Lizzo has negotiated a deal with Mina Lioness, giving her a percent of writing credit for her tweet, however, she is firmly denying that Justin and Jeremiah had any part in the songwriting for “Truth Hurts.”
Discography of the song states it was produced by the owner of Nice Life Recording Company, Ricky Reed, and written by Melissa Viviane Jefferson, Jesse Saint John (Brittney Spears, Charli XCX, The Neighbourhood), and Steven Cheung.
Here is yet another lesser-known fact. Oddly enough, while helping continue writing “Truth Hurts,” producer Ricky Reed borrowed a melody from one of his own songs.
Lizzo sings, “I put the sing in single. Ain’t worried ’bout a ring on my finger,” a line heard in the pre-chorus of his previous band’s 2013 song, “Hesher.”
Below, Ricky Reed takes you through the making of “Truth Hurts,” but unfortunately he doesn’t touch on melody or lyrics.
Copyright In The Music Industry
Copyright infringement is actually pretty common in the music industry. When done correctly, artists will borrow ideas or samples from other songs with approval from the original artist.
Here are some examples of songwriters who dealt with legal backlash due to cutting from the same cloth without permission.
Ed Sheeran vs. Marvin Gaye
Most recently, Ed Sheeran is facing court appearances over potentially plagiarizing Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” in his song “Thinking Out Loud.”
Sheeran has also been accused of copyright issues in his songs “Photograph” and “Shape of You.”
Pharrell Williams vs. Marvin Gaye
Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke were court-ordered to pay Marvin Gaye’s Family five million dollars over similarities between their song “Blurred Lines” and Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up”.
Justin Beiber vs. Casey Dienel
Justin Beiber and Skrillex’s “Sorry” was also targeted and accused of stealing a vocal riff from indie-pop star Casey Dienel’s song “Ring The Bell.”
Lana Del Rey vs Radiohead
Even Lana Del Rey’s “Get Free” was said to be too closely inspired by Radiohead’s “Creep,” from which Radiohead’s team demanded 100% of the publishing earnings.
The Verve vs. The Rolling Stones
Going back to the 90s, The Verve’s 1997 song “Bittersweet Symphony” was considered a rip off of The Rolling Stones’ “The Last Time.”
In the end, The Verve lost all control of their biggest selling song. “Bittersweet Symphony” was even nominated for the ‘Best Song’ Grammy award with Keith Richards’ and Mick Jagger’s names listed rather than the members of The Verve.
Being inspired by other artists and musicians is impossible to avoid, and is encouraged, but get too close to the original piece of art and you may find yourself in trouble.
What do you think? Did Lizzo match Rae Sremmurd’s melody too closely? Let us know in the comments!