Beyoncé recently updated her seventh album, "Renaissance," with the removal of an interpolation of Kelis' 2003 hit "Milkshake" from the track "Energy.
Shortly after the release of "Renaissance" on Friday, July 29, Kelis claimed on social media that Beyoncé had stolen parts of "Milkshake" without her express consent. She claimed that Beyoncé's team had not contacted the singer to inform her that her song would be referenced and that Pharrell Williams, who co-wrote and produced "Milkshake" with Chad Hugo as The Neptunes, would have cleared the interpolation as a "direct hit" at her.
The "la la la la" refrain that appears for the first time on "Milkshake" around the 30-second mark is interjected into the original version of "Energy." The song's interpolation of "Milkshake" was acknowledged in the official credits for "Energy," which also listed Williams and Hugo as the songwriters. The interpolated song was referred to as being "performed" by Kelis, but The Neptunes were listed as the song's writers, not Kelis.
It should be noted that Kelis was never listed as a songwriter on "Milkshake" in the beginning. Kelis has not formally addressed this aspect of the controversy, but in one of the video statements she posted last week, she called Williams out for allegedly taking credit for songs he did not write.
“When I was signed to [Williams’ label, Star Trak], I had the same manager that he had, and he has writing credits on my records – all my singles, coincidentally – and he never wrote a song [or] a lyric,” she said.
Energy has now been updated on Tidal and Apple Music to remove the "Milkshake" interpolation from the song altogether. As noted by Rolling Stone, this wasn’t a particularly easy process: for a short while, Tidal glitched and would only play the vocal clip that was removed when listeners attempted to stream the song. At the time of writing, the original version of "Energy" can still be heard in the song’s official lyrics video and on Spotify.
Have a listen to the former below, then compare it to the updated version on Apple Music:
This is the second major change that’s been made to 'Renaissance’ this week: on Monday (August 1), it was confirmed that an ableist slur would be removed from the song 'Heated’. Similar to a recent controversy with Lizzo’s song "Grrrls" (which was also amended shortly thereafter), Beyoncé caught flak for using the word “spaz” in one of the song’s lyrics.
While the term is used colloquially in the United States with a similar meaning to “freak out” or “go crazy”, the term emerges from the word “spastic”, which is used medically to describe the spasms one might experience from a condition like cerebral palsy. The term is often used in a derogatory manner to describe those with disabilities, especially cerebral palsy.
Following the backlash, Beyoncé’s publicist confirmed that the offensive lyrics in "Heated" would indeed be altered. When streaming the song on Apple Music, all uses of the slur have been replaced with the word "blast."
In a four-star review of 'Renaissance’, NME’s Kyann-Sian Williams said Beyoncé’s latest album “continue[s] leading the charge to bring Black culture back to the forefront of house and dance scenes."
It’s also been revealed that the album is part of a forthcoming trilogy. A fan who received a vinyl copy of the album shared an image from its accompanying booklet, wherein Beyoncé describes "Renaissance" as the first of a “three-act project” that was recorded “over three years during the pandemic."
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