If you’re old enough to remember when albums could only be edited before their release, congratulations on making it to the future.
For a second time since “Renaissance” dropped (checks notes) four whole days ago, Beyoncé has reached back for a record re-do, this time to squash a public beef with fellow pop singer Kelis, bits of whose 2003 hit “Milkshake” will no longer be heard on Track 5, “Energy.”
Earlier this week, Beyoncé changed the lyrics to “Heated,” Track 11 on “Renaissance,” to remove a word that’s considered an ableist slur. Two days later, she quietly replaced “Energy” with a new version, too.
The original “Energy” was interpolated with a bit of “Milkshake,” including Beyoncé singing a variation of the song’s memorable la-la-las. Kelis took issue, since she got no forewarning – and no credit, as she’s not an official “Milkshake” songwriter.
That would be Pharrell Williams and his Neptunes writing partner Chad Hugo, the only writers credited on “Milkshake.” As is customary, Williams and Hugo were credited as songwriters on “Energy,” just two of 104 songwriters on Beyoncé’s 16-track record.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the “Milkshake” interpolation was removed from the version of “Energy” on Spotify, but the Williams and Hugo credits remained there. The credits were removed from Beyoncé’s official website, however.
Kelis – who has openly grieved in the past about how the Neptunes took full credit for some of her songs – complained about the “Renaissance” track in a series of Instagram comments last week:
“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.”
“It’s not a collab, it’s theft,” she wrote.
Legally, that’s not at all true – Beyoncé did what was required of her. But for Kelis, the blindside was enough to file a grievance to her Instagram followers in a pair of videos.
“My real beef is not only with Beyoncé because, at the end of the day, she sampled a record. She’s copied me before, she’s done stuff before, so have many other artists, it’s fine. I don’t care about that…. The issue is, not only are we are female artists, OK, Black female artists in an industry that…there’s not that many of us, right? We’ve met each other, we know each other, we have mutual friends. It’s not hard, she can contact, right?”
One can also send a message without making contact – like simply cutting your sample out of the album altogether, and having nothing more to say about the matter.