Behind the Song: Battle for Lizzo, “Truth Hurts” As Grammy Night Nears

Her hit song “Truth Hurts” credited to Lizzo as songwriter along with Steven Cheung, Eric Frederic and Jesse Saint John, is one of eight songs nominated for the Best Song Grammy, which will be awarded Sunday night, January 26, 2020, at the Staples Center here in Los Angeles. The Grammy for best song is the preeminent songwriter’s award.

It’s one of those songs, and she’s one of those artists, which has made an undeniable cultural impact. From the TikTok app to Hillary Clinton’s Twitter account to the film Someone Great, echoes of Lizzo’s self-love hook were everywhere this past year:  “I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100 percent ….” 

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Yet its authorship remains the subject of some dispute, a mostly unprecedented situation for a nominated song in this week before the Grammys.

Lizzo has acknowledged already that the title of the song was inspired by a 2017 Twitter post by the UK artist Mina Lioness, and that she would share songwriting credit with her. Mina, in a series of posts, expressed her gratitude.

“I just took a DNA Test, turns out I’m a credited writer for the number one song on Billboard,” she wrote. “I have received nothing but love from her through our communications, so I truly do thank her. I want to publicly thank Lizzo and her entire management team for embracing me and reaching out.”

Yet other allegations persist about the authorship. Ironically, of this song about painful truth. Justin and Jeremiah Raisen as well as Yves Rothman claim they contributed to the song as well. Lizzo denies this completely, and is suing them and their company Heavy Duty Publishing, 

Justin Raisen, on Instagram, claimed that he wrote a song called “Healthy” with his brother Jeremiah, Jesse Saint John and Yves Rothman in 2017, parts of which were used in “Truth Hurts.”

“We’ve tried to sort this out quietly,” he wrote, “for the last two years, only asking for 5% each but were shutdown every time.” 

Lizzo, on Instagram, wrote: “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 to the line, “Why are men great until they gotta be great,” she posted its meaning: 

“Men hold the highest seats of power on the planet. They’re constantly appointed greatness and yet cannot seem to do any good with it.”

 “The men who now claim a piece of `Truth Hurts’ did not help me write any part of the song. They had nothing to do with the line or how I chose to sing it… that song is my life, and its words are my truth.”

To CNN, Lizzo’s attorney, Cynthia Arato, stated: “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.”

The suit says that the brothers, acting in “bad faith,” had already withdrawn this claim many months ago, only to start it up again when the song became a monster hit. Rothman, it says, made his demand after the Raisens led the way. 

Legalties have yet to be resolved, and most likely will not be prior to the Grammys on Sunday night. Yet still it’s unlikely this is going to be anything other than Lizzo’s night, as she performs this song, and will likely be a winner of one, if not all, of the eight Grammys for which she’s nominated on this night. Besides her nomination for Best Song, she is also up for Best New Artist, Best Album, Best Record, Best Pop Solo Performance, Best Urban Contemporary Album, Best R&B Performance, and Best Traditional R&B Performance. 

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