Kelis claims she was sampled on Beyoncé’s ‘RENAISSANCE’ without permission

'RENAISSANCE' track 'Energy' samples Kelis' 2003 song 'Milkshake'

Kelis has claimed that she was sampled on Beyoncé’s new album ‘RENAISSANCE‘ without granting permission.

The singer has alleged that her 2003 track ‘Milkshake’, which was written and produced by The Neptunes (Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo), was sampled on a song called ‘Energy’.

According to the page source of Apple Music’s ‘RENAISSANCE listing, Williams and Hugo are credited as co-writers for ‘Energy’ but not Kelis.


Commenting on an Instagram post through the verified account for Kelis’ product line Bounty And Full, the musician said: “It’s not a collab it’s theft.”

“My mind is blown too because the level of disrespect and utter ignorance of all 3 parties involved is astounding,” Kelis wrote in another comment. “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 also responded to a social media user who said, “I always felt like Beyoncé really admire [sic] Kelis”, by writing: “admire is not the word.”

Beyoncé has not yet responded to Kelis’ claims. NME has reached out to representatives of both artists for comment.

After performing at the Suikerrock festival in Belgium last night (July 28), Kelis took to Instagram to expound on her perspective in a video statement. Explaining that her “real beef is not only with Beyoncé” because the two artists allegedly share a history together, she noted: “The issue is that not only are we … black female artists in an industry [where] there’s not that many of us, we’ve met each other, we know each other, we have mutual friends – it’s not hard, she can contact [me], right?”


Kelis then went on to address commenters that had claimed she was unaware of her own publishing rights, saying: “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 – that happens all the time, especially back then…”

Kelis hit out at Williams and Hugo as “the real issue” in the situation, alleging that the former had antagonistic motives in clearing the sample for Beyoncé. She said: “Pharrell knows better. This is a direct hit at me [and] he does this stuff all the time… The reason I’m annoyed is because I know it was on purpose. This is not like some, ‘Oh, they were in the studio…’ No. No, this was an on-purpose, direct hit, which is very passive aggressive, it’s very petty, it’s very stupid…”

Kelis followed that statement up with a second video, wherein she made further allegations of “hypocrisy” and “nonsense” against Williams. “When I was signed to [Williams’ label, Star Trak], I had the same manager that he had, and he has writing credits on my records – all my singles, coincidentally – and he never wrote a song [or] a lyric,” she said.

Kelis then directed her ire back at Beyoncé, claiming that her narrative of female empowerment “only counts if you really do it – if you’re really living it and walking the walk”.

“The point is that there’s a lot of hypocrisy,” she continued, “and someone has to talk about it and bring it up. And it just so happens that I was thrown in this – it’s not like I look for it…

“Last night, I was posting on my Bounty And Full page, just doing my own thing, and I saw one of my fan pages and someone was like, ‘Oh, it’s a collaboration between Bey and Kelis.’ No, it’s not a collaboration – it’s called thievery, because 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 a problem.”

NME has reached out to representatives of Pharrell Williams for comment.

Kelis. Credit: Getty

In a 2020 interview with The Guardian Kelis spoke out how she has allegedly not been properly compensated for her early work with The Neptunes.

“I thought it was a beautiful and pure, creative safe space, but it ended up not being that at all,” she said.

“I was told we were going to split the whole thing 33/33/33, which we didn’t do,” adding that she was “blatantly lied to and tricked” by “the Neptunes and their management and their lawyers and all that stuff”.

Kelis added that she doesn’t make any money from her first two albums, ‘Kaleidoscope’ (1999) and ‘Wanderland’ (2001), both of which were produced by The Neptunes.

Meanwhile, Kelis performed a medley of her hits and enlisted a DJ for a buoyant mash-up of club and pop classics during her recent set at Truck Festival. Read the full review here.

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