Are TikTokers aware that the music in their videos features a Tory Lanez song?

Weekly column Problematic on TikTok, which appears on Tuesdays in the Daily Dot’s web_crawlr newsletter, explores the alarming themes that are developing on the well-known platform. Subscribe to web_crawlr to receive the daily scoop of internet culture in your inbox and receive this column one day before we publish it.

On TikTok, an unreleased song by Tory Lanez is now popular. I have a suspicion that most users who have created videos using the audio are unaware that they are promoting the rapper who shot Megan Thee Stallion (Megan Pete) by doing so.

It all began with TikTok’s new “striking face” filter, which makes users’ eyes and mouths larger and gives them a shadow at five o’clock. The filter itself appears innocent and was ostensibly developed to elicit laughter. However, the same song and lyrics are featured in the majority of “striking face” filter videos: “Do you not realise that when I watch you leave, it hurts me? You only have the time of your life when I’m not around, because.

The song, “Hurts Me” by Tory Lanez, whose real name is Daystar Peterson, has been used in over 125,000 videos, many of which have been uploaded within the last three days. Additionally, during the past 48 hours, an increasing number of videos that aren’t part of the “striking face” trend have started to incorporate the song’s soundtrack, indicating that it is quickly becoming a popular song on TikTok.

And when unreleased music from well-known artists becomes popular on TikTok, those musicians typically release the song to huge financial success. SZA’s “Shirt” and “I Hate U” were trending on TikTok in 2021 before their respective releases in 2021 and 2022. The latter even had a popular TikTok dance to go with it that I can still remember today.

Why it matters

Is Peterson’s continued commercial success truly what we need right now? One commenter on the TikTok video that first posted the “Hurts Me” audio claims that if the judge overseeing Lanez’s punishment hears the song, they will “drop the case.” A different person claims that “we really lost one of our greatest talents to a bad justice system.” Others added the words “free him” and “after hearing this, he is not guilty.”

Pete was hospitalised in 2020 when Peterson shot her in the foot. Peterson is awaiting punishment after being convicted guilty of three counts of felony assault and gun violence. In addition to the fact that the rapper shot Pete, Los Angeles prosecutors want him to serve thirteen years in jail because he “waged a campaign to humiliate and re-traumatize” her, according to Billboard. 

Since I made a video utilising “Hurt Me” before realising it was Peterson’s song, I have to give TikTok developers who are utilising his music the benefit of the doubt.

However, providing Peterson greater exposure—even by simply creating a TikTok video with his unreleased song—further establishes his artistic legitimacy. And while he is a respectable artist, the public ought to be paying more attention to Peterson as a person right now, especially as his sentencing is being decided.

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