Kelis has much more to say about being interpolated on Beyoncé‘s Renaissance album. After venting her anger about what she claimed was Bey and The Neptunes alleged failure to secure her permission to lift elements of her 2003 hit “Milkshake” on the Renaissance track “Energy,” the singer dove deeper into why she feels slighted in a series of videos posted on Thursday night (July 28).
“I’m an artist, so I am as Erykah [Badu] said ‘I’m sensitive about my s—,'” Kelis 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, so have many other artists, it’s fine, I don’t care about that.” (The album’s full credits list the “Milkshake” sourcing as an interpolation, not a sample.)
The Neptunes’ Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo wrote “Milkshake,” which Kelis sang on her 2003 album, Tasty, with only the production duo credited as songwriters and producers. Prior to the official release of Renaissance, a Kelis Instagram fan page noted the lift, with Kelis commenting, “My mind is blown too because the level of disrespect and utter ignorance of all 3 parties involved is astounding.”
At the time, she noted that she found out about the interpolation “the same way everyone else did,” suggesting that she had not gotten a heads up beforehand, slamming people in the music business who have “no soul or integrity.”
In Thursday’s video, Kelis made it clear that she’s not mad about the lift itself, but that “not only are we Black female artists in an industry where there’s not many of us,” pointing out that she and Bey have met, know each other and have mutual friends. “It’s not hard. She can contact, right?” Kelis said, noting that 20-year-old singer Ashnikko reached out when her 2021 song “Deal With It” sampled Kelis’ “Caught Out There.”
“She’s a young white girl, she reached out when she freakin’ like… it’s just common decency. It’s common decency,” Kelis said. “Especially because, as so many of you pointed out… 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.”
Though she called it “stupid and disrespectful” for Beyoncé to have allegedly not reached out about the interpolation, Kelis specifically called out Grammy-winning producer/rapper and Neptunes co-founder Pharrell, who she said “knows better. This is a direct hit at me,” she claimed. “He does this stuff all the time. It’s very petty.” At press time spokespeople for Williams and Beyoncé had not returned requests for comment on Kelis’ claims. “I have the right to be frustrated because no one had the human decency to call,” to ask for permission, she claimed.
In fact, she suspects the lift was “on purpose… a direct hit” that was done in a “passive aggressive” fashion that is “very petty… very stupid.” Speaking to the Beyhive, she made it clear that it’s not about her being jealous of Bey — who borrowed from her song, after all — but just about common courtesy and giving another artist a heads up.
Thursday’s comments aren’t the first time Kelis has called out her former collaborators The Neptunes, who produced Kaleidoscope. Due to being “blatantly lied to and tricked” to sign contracts based on “what I was told,” Kelis told the The Guardian in 2020 that she does not make any money from her debut or sophomore album, Wanderland.
“I was told we were going to split the whole thing 33/33/33, which we didn’t do,” Kelis told the outlet then. “Their argument [from The Neptunes and their team] 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.’”
The first video Kelis posted on Thursday was captioned “I said what I said , cause it’s the truth. You don’t have to like it or agree. Facts are facts. If you’re a sheep keep it movin this convo will be over your head. I didn’t ask for this , but I’m not afraid of it either.”
In a second video posted on Thursday, she went further, stressing again that the issue was not with Beyoncé, but about “hypocrisy” and music industry “nonsense,” specifically calling out Williams once more for what she said were allegedly unfair business and songwriting practices when they worked together. “No it’s not a collaboration, it’s thievery,” she said adamantly about “Energy,” in the clip, pointing out that she would “never” sample another artist’s work without asking them first.
“I just heard the record everyone is saying has my sample. But it’s beyond this song at this point. This was a TRIGGER for me,” she captioned the second video. “‘Milkshake’ alone is one of the most licensed records of our generation. I am a creator, I’m an innovator, I have done more then left my mark on an era of music and style that will go down in history. But there are bully’s and secrets and gangsters in this industry that smile and get away with it until someone says enough is enough. So I’m saying it today . I’m coming for what’s mine and I want reparations. Peace.”
It’s unclear whether Kelis was legally entitled to withhold permission for the interpolation, and she appears to have indicated in previous interviews that she was not given full credit on the earlier song. At press time it did not appear as if Williams or Beyoncé had publicly responded to Kelis’ statements.
Check out Kelis’ videos below.