Beyoncé has removed the usage of “Milkshake” from her new song “Energy” after Kelis tore into the singer for featuring the hit 2003 song, proclaiming it an act of “thievery.”
It’s been an unexpectedly rocky release week for Beyoncé, who despite receiving rave reviews for her disco-dance album Renaissance, has had a series of blips and post-release modifications to songs.
Days before its drop last Friday, the album leaked online — a rare hiccup for the famously buttoned-up artist. Then on Monday, Beyoncé announced she would be removing the word “spaz” from her song “Heated” following backlash from critics who said the word is an ableist slur. (Lizzo similarly removed the word from her song “Grrrls” earlier this summer.)
Now, Tidal and Apple have appeared to have removed an interpolation of Kelis’ song “Milkshake” that appears at the tail end of “Energy.” In a brief glitch, Tidal was only playing the isolated vocals of the interpolation, while the rest of the nearly two minute track was silent. It’s unclear when other streaming services will update the track on their platforms. Reps for Beyoncé, Kelis, and Tidal have not immediately responded to Rolling Stone‘s requests for comment.
The controversy between the two artists kicked off hours before the album’s official drop when Kelis used her chef’s Instagram account to voice her frustration that her song was being used and she wasn’t given the courtesy of a heads-up, much less asked for her blessing. “It’s not a collab, it’s theft,” she wrote.
“My mind is blown too because the level of disrespect and utter ignorance of all 3 parties involved is astounding,” she added. “Nothing is ever as it seems, some of the people in this business have no soul or integrity, and they have everyone fooled.”
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Full credits later revealed the song in question was “Milkshake,” with Kelis’ former producers Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo credited on the track. Beyoncé’s website also noted the song was interpolated, which takes an existing sound and alters it, whereas sampling takes directly from a song with no changes.
Regardless that the song was used in a minor way or tweaked to fit Beyoncé’s dance track, Kelis wasn’t pleased, saying the entire situation was a “trigger” point for her. “It’s beyond this song at this point,” she wrote in an Instagram caption. “There are bullies 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.”
Kelis also called out Williams, a former close friend who worked with her exclusively alongside Chad Hugo on her first two albums. Their relationship went bust after Kelis claimed that Williams and Hugo had “lied and tricked” her into a raw deal. Instead of splitting things “33/33/33,” Kelis told The Guardian in 2020, she was left with no rights to her early music, and ended up only making money from her first albums from touring.
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She referred to the contentious relationship in her Instagram video, saying, “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.”
“Pharrell knows better,” she added. “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.”