Lizzo fires back in songwriting dispute, files lawsuit alleging harassment
After finally breaking her silence on a songwriting dispute surrounding her summer smash “Truth Hurts,” Lizzo has filed a lawsuit against the Raisen brothers, the L.A.-based songwriters who claim they deserve credit on the track.
The R&B star and rapper took to Twitter Wednesday to respond to Justin and Jeremiah Raisen’s claim that “Truth Hurts” uses material from “Healthy,” a 2017 tune they co-wrote with Lizzo. She says the brothers contributed nothing to “Truth Hurts” or its most famous lyric, which is central to the conflict.
Lizzo’s suit urges the court to declare that the Raisens have “no ownership rights in” or “right to any sums of money” made from “Truth Hurts”; the singer is also suing the pair for harassment.
“Hey y’all... as I’ve shared before, in 2017, while working on a demo, I saw a meme that resonated with me, a meme that made me feel like 100% that bitch,” Lizzo said in a statement posted on Twitter. “I sang that line in the demo, and I later used the line in Truth Hurts.”
“The men who now claim a piece of Truth Hurts did not help me write any part of the song,” she continued. “They had nothing to do with the line or how I chose to sing it. 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.”
“The men” in question were not happy with Lizzo’s Twitter statement. Speaking to The Times Wednesday, the Raisen brothers expressed their disappointment with her remarks, particularly the way she referred to “Healthy” as a demo and didn’t mention either of them by name.
“It’s not in line with what she stands for and preaches for and is preaching about,” Justin Raisen said in a phone interview, with his brother also on the call. “We’ve said nothing but nice things about her, and now to find out that she’s actually pointing her finger at us — these quote-unquote ‘men’ — is extremely saddening, and it’s painful ... because people don’t do this to other people. It’s just not fair. I’ve never dealt with anything like this in the music industry.”
Lizzo’s new lawsuit supports her assertion that the Raisens deserve no credit for “Truth Hurts” nor compensation for its chart-topping performance.
“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,” said Cynthia Arato, Lizzo’s attorney, in a statement to The Times. “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,” the statement concluded.
The suit, provided to The Times, also targets producer-songwriter Justin “Yves” Rothman, who, Lizzo alleges, “later lodged his own copycat claim.”
In a second interview with The Times Wednesday after the lawsuit was made public, Justin Raisen said it has inflicted extreme emotional distress and disillusionment.
“It’s a complete abuse of power and really, really bad for the music community,” Raisen said. “I was honestly sicker than I’ve [ever] felt. This whole thing has made me honestly not really want to make music as a songwriter or producer as an occupation anymore.”
Raisen said he never wanted to end up in court, but Lizzo’s legal action has fired him up and he vowed to clear his family name.
“We’ll go to court. We’ll win. We’ll take a lot more money — not that that’s what I want; I just want the right thing to be done,” he said. “And then I’ll take [Lizzo] to court because I’ve almost been checked into a psychiatric recovery center twice because of all of this damage and psychological stress I’ve been through.”
The Raisens claim they made several attempts to settle the dispute in private, at one point getting on the phone with Lizzo to talk things over, to no avail. They allege that the hit phrase “I just took a DNA test / Turns out I’m 100% that bitch,” only made it into “Healthy” — and, consequently, “Truth Hurts” — because Jeremiah Raisen suggested they use it during a songwriting session.
The phrase was inspired by a meme originated by singer Mina Lioness, who, in a Wednesday tweet, thanked Lizzo for giving her a songwriting credit on the hit.
I just took a DNA Test, turns out I’m a credited writer for the number one song on Billboard.— Legendina (@MinaLioness) October 23, 2019
Despite pushback from others in the room, Jeremiah Raisen said he eventually persuaded Lizzo to adopt the catchphrase, which has since become a rallying cry for the artist and appears on her merchandise.
“I was the one who decided that it would be good to be in the song,” Jeremiah Raisen told The Times.
The “Juice” singer’s suit directly refutes Jeremiah Raisen’s account, asserting that the Raisens “did not come up with the idea of including the lyric in the unreleased demo.”
“The creator of the tweet is the person I am sharing my success with ... not these men. Period,” Lizzo said Wednesday on Twitter. “Thank you to everyone has supported me and my song.”
In addition to claiming the brothers “did not collaborate with Lizzo or anyone else to create ‘Truth Hurts,’” the suit also contends that the Raisens actually “withdrew any claim to ‘Truth Hurts,’ in writing, in April of this year, and subsequently assured Lizzo, again in writing, that they were making no claims to the work.”
The suit continues: “They commenced an intentionally misleading social media campaign where they falsely claimed to be writers of the song and threatened to expand their intentionally misleading campaign to traditional media and newspaper outlets such as the New York Times; all as part of their effort through duress and intimidation to try and compel Lizzo to comply with their unreasonable demands.”
“Truth Hurts,” which was released in 2017 but became a hit this year, has spent seven weeks on top of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
Inside the business of entertainment
The Wide Shot brings you news, analysis and insights on everything from streaming wars to production — and what it all means for the future.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.