Update (Wednesday, August 3, at 10 a.m.): Beyoncé has removed the interpolation of Kelis’s “Milkshake” from the song “Energy.” Neither Beyoncé nor Williams has commented on the edit.
It’s not the only post-release edit. She removed the word spaz from the track “Heated” when listeners criticized that language for being ableist. (“Spazzin’ on that ass, spazz on that ass,” the original lyrics went.)
In a statement to Variety, a spokesperson said, “The word, not used intentionally in a harmful way, will be replaced.” She now says, “Blastin’ on that ass.”
The original article continues below.
Kelis, she of “Bossy” and “Milkshake” fame, has posted her frustration with producer Pharrell Williams and, by extension, Beyoncé, on the occasion of the release of Beyoncé’s Renaissance.
After a Kelis fan account claimed on Instagram that Beyoncé’s song “Energy” sampled the former singer’s 2003 earworm, “Milkshake,” Kelis responded with a couple videos. Kelis said she’s frustrated with being taken advantage of, especially since Williams and Beyoncé allegedly did not reach out to her to give her a heads-up. Of Beyoncé, she said she would have liked to have heard from the singer ahead of the record’s debut.
“It’s not hard. She can contact, right?” Kelis said in her first response video. “It’s common decency. 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.”
Worse, though, according to Kelis, is Williams, whom she called “petty” and accused of doing “this stuff all the time.”
“I have the right to be frustrated,” she said. “Why? Because no one had the human decency to call and be like, ‘Yo, hey, we’d like to use your record.’ And by the way, the reason I’m annoyed is because I know it was on purpose.” (Vanity Fair has reached out to Beyoncé and Williams for comment.)
As Kelis alluded to in a second response video, she signed a predatory contract back in the day with the Neptunes, Williams’s production duo with Chad Hugo. As she mentioned in a recent interview, the performer didn’t make any money from sales of her first two albums. “Their argument is: ‘Well, you signed it,’” she told The Guardian a couple years ago. “I’m like: ‘Yeah, I signed what I was told, and I was too young and too stupid to double-check it.’” (Williams did not respond to The Guardian’s request for comment at the time.)