A debate has erupted after singer Kelis said Beyoncé’s new album Renaissance samples one of her songs without asking her.
Kelis – known for hits like Milkshake, Millionaire and Acapella – said it was “disrespectful” of Beyoncé not to contact her about using the track in the album, her most anticipated since Lemonade which was released on Friday (July 29).
"It was stupid and disrespectful and she should have just reached out,” Kelis said in an Instagram post, “I have the right to be frustrated. Why? Because no one had the human decency to call and be like ‘yo, hey, we’d like to use your record’. By the way the reason I’m annoyed is because I know it was on purpose.”
Here’s everything you need to know about the argument.
Which Kelis song is sampled on Beyoncé’s Renaissance? What is interpolation?
The 2003 Kelis song Milkshake has been used on Beyoncé’s new track ENERGY, the fifth song on Renaissance.
In the album credits for Renaissance, it says: “Contains an interpolation of ‘Milkshake’ written by Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo and performed by Kelis.”
In music terms, an interpolation is when a melody from a previously recorded song is re-recorded instead of just sampled straight from the original track.
The famous backing riff from Milkshake has been re-recorded and used on ENERGY, which can be heard from about 1.01 into the new Beyoncé song. None of Kelis’ Milkshake vocals can be heard on the Beyoncé track.
What has Kelis said about Milkshake being used on Beyoncé’s new album?
Kelis first reacted on a fan page’s Instagram post which revealed she would feature on Beyoncé’s new album – which had been leaked two days early.
The Kelis fan account used a "mind-blown” emoji, to which Kelis responded: “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.”
What did Kelis post on Instagram about Beyoncé’s new album?
Kelis then posted a video on her own Instagram account (@kelis) elaborating on her thoughts.
She said: "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... It’s fine, I don’t care about that.
"The issue is that not only do we female artists, black female artists in an industry where there’s not that many of us, we’ve met eachother, we know eachother, we have mutual friends. It’s not hard, she can contact, right? It’s just common decency.”
The singer continued: “Especially because… I know what I own and what I don’t own. I also know the lies that were told, the things that were stolen. People were swindled out of rights. It happens all the time.
"So it’s not about me being mad about Beyoncé. She is one issue because it is stupid and disrespectful and she should have at least reached out.
"It’s frustrating. I have the right to be frustrated. Why? Because no one had the human decency to call and be like ‘yo, hey would like to use your record’. By the way, the reason I’m annoyed is because I know it was on purpose.
“It’s not about me being jealous. Jealous of somebody else using my song? That’s the dumbest, most ignorant thing I’ve ever heard.”
In a second, later video, Kelis also called out Beyoncé, who frequently sings about female empowerment, for not “walking the walk”.
She said: “The reality is, all this female empowerment stuff, it only counts if you really do it. If you’re really living it and walking the walk. don’t just talk the talk. It’s real cute and fun to sing all these girls songs – come on now. Let’s be real, alright?”
Kelis said the use of her track on Beyoncé’s album was first drawn to her attention when a fan page was celebrating the two artists’ ‘collaboration’.
She said: "No it’s not a collaboration...Because a collaboration, the definition of collaboration means that we are working together. There’s no working together if you are not even checking to see if everything’s cool.
"That’s the problem, okay. I would never do that to another artist, for real.”
What did Kelis say about Pharrell Williams?
In the second video posted by Kelis on her Instagram, the singer said the issue was not really about Beyonce.
She said: "So we’ve got Pharrell [Williams] who did an interview I think last year talking about artists' rights and how people should be able to rework their deals and artists should be getting credit for what they’ve done and all this stuff.
"Where in reality, when I was signed to him I had the same manager that he had and he has writing credits on my records, okay. All my ‘singles’ coincidentally. And he never wrote a song, a lyric, a day in his life. So yeah, that’s a problem.”
Referring to Pharrell Williams’ hit song Happy. She said: “I’d be happy too if I was doing all kinds of false publishing and rights to songs and all kinds of stuff. I actually wouldn’t be happy, because it’s evil.
"But the point is okay, is that there’s a lot of hypocrisy and someone has to talk about it and bring it up.”
She concluded the video by making a wider point about the music industry. Kelis said: "The point is, something has to be done about it. I’m saying what I have to say because it’s true. it happens to a lot of artists, it happens all the time, and I think that really something needs to change. This is the fuel that I needed to actually do it.”
Who has copyright for Kelis’ song Milkshake?
Milkshake was the lead track on Kelis’ third album Tasty (2003). It reached #2 in the UK charts and #3 in the US Billboard Hot 100, selling more than 2 million records worldwide.
It was recorded under the Star Trak and Arista record labels, with Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo listed as songwriters and The Neptunes (Williams and Hugo) as producers.
The person who owns copyright of a song is known as an author, or co-authors if there are more than one. This is normally the person who wrote the song or recorded it.
Since Williams and Hugo are named as songwriters and producers of Milkshake, they will likely hold the copyright to the song.
What have Beyoncé and Pharrell Williams said about Kelis’ comments?
Neither Beyoncé nor Pharrell Williams have commented publicly on the allegations made by Kelis.
Representatives of both parties have been contacted for comment.