Beyoncé’s new album will no longer contain the “la la la” of Kelis’ Neptunes-produced-hit “Milkshake,” after the interpolation and writing credit were removed from the song “Energy.” Now, many are questioning whether Kelis’ ego blocked her blessing.
Most artists want credit for their work, that’s understandable. But when the biggest entertainer in the world, with a cultish fan base, adds you to her collection of work and gives you credith, why are you mad over not receiving a phone call? She should have graciously said thank you, gained some new followers, driven to the studio to create new music and dropped it in a couple of weeks. Instead of leveraging the opportunity, she fumbled. Now, all she has is burnt bridges and hurt feelings.
The removal comes after Kelis took to social media last week to blast Beyoncé and Neptunes producer Pharrell Williams for using the song without speaking to her. While Pharrell holds the copyright to the song and wouldn’t have to get legal permission to use or sell it, Kelis contended that, in addition to Pharrell “swindling” her out of ownership, she still should have been contacted.
“It’s happened before, where people at least had the wherewithal to be like, ‘Yo, using your record. We understand that Pharrell totally swindled you out of your stuff, just want to get the respect.’ Because that’s what you do,” Kelis said on Instagram.
The sample removed from “Energy” featured the “la la la” that leads up to Kelis’ famous chorus, “My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.” Inspired by a trip that Pharrell spent clubbing in Brazil, the danceable inspiration of “Milkshake” could’ve been right at home on Beyoncé’s Renaissance , an album that pulls from decades worth of club music trends. But Kelis believes Pharrell’s slight is more than just absent-minded industry business.
“Pharrell knows better,” she said in the same Instagram video. “This is a direct hit at me. He does this stuff all the time. The reason I’m annoyed is because I know it was on purpose.”
Her beef with Pharrell goes all the way back to the singer’s first two albums. Signed to the Neptunes-owned label Star Trak Entertainment, Kelis has said she made no money at all off the sales of 1999’s Kaleidoscopeor 2001’s Wanderland.
“I was told we were going to split the whole thing 33/33/33, which we didn’t do,” Kelis told The Guardian in 2020. “Their argument 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.’”
Despite removing the sample and the credit for Kelis as an “associated performer” on the album, Beyoncé and Pharrell have yet to comment on her accusations directly.