All the boys are in the yard due to Kelis’ “Milkshake,” but neither Beyoncé nor the song’s producers are. After Kelis accused Beyoncé and the production team The Neptunes, made up of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, of “theft” before the song’s release, Beyoncé removed the interpolation of her 2003 hit from Renaissance track “ENERGY” from streaming services.
On July 28, the day before Renaissance officially came out, a Kelis fan account reported that a sample of “Milkshake” would be featured on the album. Kelis left several comments on the post, revealing that she found out “the same way everyone else did,” and wasn’t contacted about it. “My mind is blown too because the level of disrespect and utter ignorance of all 3 parties involved is astounding,” she wrote. When a fan remarked that “ENERGY” was the “collab the world really needs,” Kelis responded, “It’s not a collab it’s theft.”
Although it was Kelis who first made “Milkshake” famous, only Williams and Hugo are listed as the song’s composers and producers, a situation she has frequently criticized. This indicates that Beyoncé did not need permission from Kelis to interpolate the hit.
However, the “Bossy” singer still expressed disappointment in Beyoncé for not giving her a heads-up in two Instagram videos, pointing out how 26-year-old singer Ashnikko reached out when sampling her breakout single “Caught Out There” in 2021. “Not only are we Black female artists in an industry where there’s not that many of us — we’ve met each other, we know each other, we have mutual friends — it’s not hard. She can contact, right?” she said. “It’s just common decency.”
She went on to emphasize that the problem didn’t lie solely with Bey, saying the interpolation was a “trigger” after years of tension with The Neptunes. “Publishing was stolen, people were swindled out of rights,” she said. “It happens all the time, especially back then. So it’s not about me being mad about Beyoncé… Pharrell knows better. This is a direct hit at me [and] he does this stuff all the time… The reason I’m annoyed is that I know it was on purpose.”
In a January 2020 interview with The Guardian, Kelis explained that she doesn’t make any money from her first two albums due to a dispute with Williams and Hugo, who have the writing credits on those albums, claiming that she was “blatantly lied to and tricked” by The Neptunes and their team. “I was told we were going to split the whole thing 33/33/33, which we didn’t do,” she said. “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.’”
In the second Instagram video, Kelis said the debacle has “fueled” her to fight for writing credits on her early records once again. “It’s beyond this song at this point,” she captioned the post. “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.”