Kelis accuses Beyoncé of ‘theft’ over a track on ‘RENAISSANCE’ and Pharrell is involved too
Beyoncé, Kelis, Pharrell: Tea.
Beyoncé’s new album ‘RENAISSANCE’ has finally arrived (July 29) and Queen B had fans extra hyped ahead of its release by sharing a message to her website about the process behind the record being made.
In it, she thanked several major influences and inspirations, one notably being her late Uncle Johnny, who “was my godmother and the first person to expose me to a lot of the music and culture that serve as inspiration for this album.”
In 2019, at the GLAAD Awards, Beyoncé dedicated the Vanguard Award to her Uncle Jonny, who was gay, in a moving speech about the LGBTQ+ community
— GLUE magazine 🏳️🌈 🏳️⚧️ (@thegluemagazine) July 29, 2022
One person unchecked on that list, however, was singer Kelis. And while the new record (which is brilliant, by the way) has been positively received overall, Kelis was not on team RENAISSANCE. At all.
Kelis (who we also LOVE) is one of many musicians whose work, intentionally, appears on Beyoncé’s new album.
The new song “Energy”, featuring Jamaican-American rapper and producer BEAM, includes an interpolation (interpolating differs from sampling by tweaking a portion of an existing song for a new sound, whereas a sample lifts directly from a track) of Kelis’ 2003 signature hit “Milkshake,” on which Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo of The Neptunes are the sole credited writers and producers.
The songwriters credited on RENAISSANCE are Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo. However, Kelis is not credited.
Kelis accused Beyoncé, Williams and Hugo of thievery late Thursday after discovering about the aforementioned interpolation, hours ahead of the record dropping. Kelis fan account @kelistrends posted that RENAISSANCE “will include a @kelis sample” to which the singer, from her verified @bountyandfull account, wrote: “It’s not a collab it’s theft.”
WAIT NOT ONLY DID KELIS NOT GIVE BEYONCÉ PERMISSION TO SAMPLE HER SONG BUT SHE DIDNT EVEN KNOW ABOUT IT pic.twitter.com/RqyUYsP02E
— 𝕵𝖆𝖑𝖊𝖓 ☭ (@fvckitsjalen) July 28, 2022
In follow-up comments, Kelis went on to reveal that she heard about the sample “the same way everyone else did” then adding, “The level of disrespect and utter ignorance of all three parties is astounding.”
As the situation quickly started to go viral, Kelis took to her main Instagram account to clarify the situation, in two posts.
View this post on Instagram
“I’m an artist, so I am — as Erykah [Badu] said, ‘I’m sensitive about my s—,'” Kelis said on-camera. “The reality is that my real beef is not only with Beyoncé, because at the end of the day, she sampled a record. She’s copied me before, so have many other artists, it’s fine, I don’t care about that.”
“The issue is that not only are we female artists, okay? Black female artists in an industry [where] there’s not that many of us,” she continued. “We’ve met each other, we know each other, we have mutual friends. It’s not hard. She can contact, right?”
While some Beyoncé fans, from the BeyHive, jumped to her defence pointing out that Kelis had neither writing or production credits on the track, she argued,
“I know what I own and what I don’t own. I also know the lies that were told. I also know the things that were stolen. Publishing was stolen, people were swindled out of rights. It happens all the time, especially back then. So, it’s not about me being mad about Beyoncé.”
View this post on Instagram
It would seem that the Kelis/ Neptunes beef is no new thing. In a 2020 interview with The Guardian the singer said she was “blatantly lied to and tricked” by Williams and Hugo into signing contracts that impacted her profit from her first two albums, 1999’s Kaleidoscope and 2001’s Wanderland.
“I was told we were going to split the whole thing 33/33/33, which we didn’t do,” she said. “[The Neptunes and their team’s] argument is, ‘Well, you signed it.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, I signed what I was told, and I was too young and too stupid to double-check it.'”
Take a listen to Energy and Milkshake below and see what you think!