Beyoncé has removed an interpolated sample from Energy, a song on her new album Renaissance, due to a controversy with the American artist Kelis.
Kelis recorded a 2003 song called Milkshake when she was 24. Milkshake was written and produced by the Neptunes, a production duo comprising Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo.
Beyoncé’s new song Energy contained an interpolated sample of Milkshake. Energy cited Kelis as the performer of Milkshake, and the Neptunes as the songwriters.
Kelis has disclosed in a 2020 interview with the Guardian that at the time of recording Milkshake, she was told by the Neptunes that they would equally split profits for the music Kelis created. Kelis’s contract with the Neptunes, it turned out, left Kelis with no rights to the music she created early in her career (including Milkshake).
Kelis objected to the Neptunes being listed as the songwiters of Energy. Hours before Beyoncé released her new album, Kelis, in a series of Instagram stories, accused Beyoncé of not obtaining Kelis’ consent and not being told about the interpolation of Milkshake. “It’s not a collab, its theft”, Kelis said. In reference to the Neptunes, Kelis stated that “I also know the things that were stolen…people were swindled out of rights”.
In response to Kelis’ objections, the interpolation of Milkshake has been removed from Energy on numerous streaming services.
Unfortunately, Kelis’ situation is not unique, and this case is a reminder of the importance of intellectual property protection for artists at an emerging stage of their career. IP misunderstandings have also impacted Taylor Swift, who is in the process of re-recording her old music due to a dispute stemming from a record deal she signed at age 15 with Big Machine Records.
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