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Beyoncé and Kelis controversy: should Queen Bey have told her about sampling her song?

R&B singer Kelis is angry that Beyonce sampled her song, Milkshake (2003), without informing her in advance. That’s because the sample appears in the song Energy from Beyonce’s hit album Renaissance, which dropped on July 31, 2022.

Milkshake was famous for being a song analog for something that makes women special. “My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard..”

When a musician or producer samples a song, they use a portion of an existing song in a new recording, repurposing it by looping and layering it with new music. It becomes a new element of the new recording, and in this case, the melody of Milkshake is used as background music for Energy.

Kelis took to Instagram to vent her frustrations. She wrote: “it’s not a collar, it’s theft. My mind is blown too because the level of disrespect and utter ignorance of all 3 parties involved is astounding… I heard about this the same way everyone else did. Nothing is ever as it seems, some of the people in this business have no soul or integrity and they have everyone fooled.”

Variety contacted two veteran music attorneys and they explained how it’s unlikely that Beyoncé’s team would have been required to inform Kelis of the sample, despite herself being the performing artist on Milkshake

That’s because the credited writers of the work are Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo (The Neptunes). On top of that, the copyright holder is Virgin Records.

 

Kelis seemed to be aware of this by her statements in an Instagram video, and is more concerned that Beyoncé didn’t personally inform her that she’d be sampling the song before doing so in Energy.

She claimed how it was human decency for Beyoncé to tell her she was using the song, and many fans agreed with her statement. 

Kelis expressed how it shouldn’t have been hard for her to reach out given their common acquaintances. 

Issues with The Neptunes go way back, with Kelis mentioning in the past how she had been misled by the duo’s management, and that she wasn’t getting paid properly for her work on her first two albums.

Beyoncé’s Renaissance had also been part of another controversy with the song Heated, where the word “spazz” was used in the context of dance, but is also used as a slur to refer to people suffering from spastic. 

Since January 2020, Kelis has been living outside Los Angeles on a remote farm, where she’s also raising her children with the late photographer Mike Mora.

 

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