Since the release of Renaissance, Beyoncé has been in the headlines for a multitude of reasons. But mainly because of a complication between her song "Energy" and a sample taken from Kelis' iconic bop, "Milkshake", which has now been completely removed from the tune.
Whether it was sampling (approved or otherwise) of famous songs from dance music's past or an ableist slur that was removed after public commentary, Beyonce's seventh studio album has had to undergo yet another edit post-release, with the singer slowly removing Kelis' sample.
As we know, Renaissance includes a song called "Energy" which interpolates Kelis' 2003 song. However, the musician claims that she was never asked for permission to use that element of the song and likened the act to "theft", despite being listed on the song's credits.
As of August 2, Beyoncé's team have officially begun slowly removing the offending sample from the song. At the time of writing, the only streaming service to include the sample is Tidal, with others like Spotify and Apple Music having updated the song to reflect the changes. Additionally, Kelis' credits have also been removed from the song.
But wait, let's rewind to where this controversy all began.
What Happened Between Beyoncé and Kelis?
On July 29, Beyoncé released her latest album Renaissance, which also served as Act I in a three-part set. Immediately, the 16-track work was on repeat worldwide, with fans pointing out their favourite tracks, lyrics and samples from iconic songs.
But mere hours after the album was released, Kelis took to Instagram to accuse Beyoncé of theft for sampling her 2003 hit "Milkshake" in the album's fifth track "Energy". In a series of videos, Kelis called out the artist, as well as the song's producers Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, for not informing her that the song would be sampled.
From there, she claimed that a contract she signed in the early 2000s with Pharrell, gave him her publishing rights—a somewhat similar situation to Taylor Swift's fight for the rights to her music.
Once a fan posted about the use of her "Milkshake" sample, Kelis wrote that her mind was "blown" due to the "level of disrespect and utter ignorance of all 3 parties involved".
"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," she said, adding that informing her of the sample would have been "common decency".
She continued, "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."
"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."
Back in 2020, Kelis spoke to The Guardian about how her experience working with Williams and Hugo as a young and vulnerable artist, meant that she didn't understand how she could be "tricked" into agreeing to certain things.
"I was told we were going to split the whole thing 33/33/33, which we didn't do," she said. "Their 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.'"
She claimed that she was "blatantly lied to and tricked" by "[Williams and Hugo] and their management and their lawyers and all that stuff", and that despite her extreme success in the early '00s, she didn't make any money from her first two albums because of the pair.
However, Kelis wasn't the first artist who was surprised to find their song sampled or interpolated on Renaissance. In the album's lead single "Break My Soul", fans noticed that there are elements of Robin S.' "Show Me Love" sprinkled throughout. However, songwriters Allen George and Fred McFarlane were credited and not Robin S.
In an interview with Good Morning Britain, Robin S. spoke on the inclusion, explaining that Beyoncé nor her team made no formal contact ahead of the single's release. In fact, she learned about the use of her music, after her son told her she was "trending all over the place".
Depsite this, Robin S. thanked Beyoncé for using elements of her music in the newly released album.
"This is Robin S, and this message goes out to the Queen Bey herself, Beyoncé, to Jay-Z, to the entire team: Thank you so much for giving me my flowers while I'm still alive. I am honoured, and I'm excited to see what else can happen."