According to Merriam-Webster, a renaissance can be described as "a movement or period of vigorous artistic and intellectual activity," but it can also indicate rebirth or revival. For Beyoncé, it's probably a bit of both as her new album "Renaissance" dropped Thursday, July 28 at midnight (technically July 29), and it's already looking like nothing she's done before.
Unfortunately, it leaked online 36 hours before its actual release, which is how the conversation about stolen samples came to light.
Because of the leak, Kelis — whose 2003 hit "Milkshake" brought all of us to the yard — was suddenly made aware of the fact that a song of hers was being sampled without her knowledge. And like the rest of us, Kelis was notified by fans, not by Beyoncé. What song did Beyoncé sample? Let's listen up.
What song did Beyoncé sample for "Renaissance"?
The Los Angeles Times reported that a sample of Kelis's "Get Along With You" made its way to "Energy," a track off of "Renaissance." In response to this, Kelis posted two videos on Instagram to clear up some of the gossip and rumors regarding the sample. She begins the first video by saying she is not angry at Beyoncé, "because at the end of the day she sampled a record, she's copied me before, she's done this before, so have many other artists. It's fine. I don't care about that."
What Kelis really struggles with is the lack of respect from Beyoncé. As two Black women working in a field dominated by white artists, she felt that Beyoncé should have at least reached out to let Kelis know one of her songs would be sampled. "We've met each other. We know each other. We have mutual friends. It's not hard," she shared in the video.
There is even proof of concept that this is possible, as Kelis shouted out Ashnikko, 26-year-old singer who asked if she could sample one of Kelis's songs. Kelis said yes and now we get to hear her shouting "I hate you so much right now," from her song "Caught Out There," on Ashnikko's "Deal With It."
"It's just common decency," Kelis says again.
Kelis had a falling out with Pharrell, who is credited on Beyoncé's "Renaissance."
In January 2020, Kelis was about to embark on a tour to celebrate the 20th anniversary for her near-perfect album "Kaleidoscope." In a conversation with The Guardian, she looked back on the album that changed her and touched on some of the more painful moments. She recorded the album at the vulnerable age of 19 with her then-friends Pharrell and Chad Huge aka The Neptunes. She was told they would split the profits three ways, but that never happened.
Kelis claimed she was "lied to and tricked" by people she believed were her friends and didn't make any money off her first two albums. It makes sense that these feelings would come back to haunt her in the wake of Beyoncé sampling from one of her songs. Both Pharrell and Chad are credited on "Renaissance" whereas Kelis is not.
"This is a direct hit at me. He [Pharrell] does this stuff all the time. It's very petty and the reality is it's frustrating," Kelis revealed in the first Instagram video.
What it all boils down to is consent and permission. Kelis was not asked if her song could be sampled and she certainly didn't consent to it. Beyoncé keeps mistakenly referring to "Energy" as a collaboration between Beyoncé and Kelis but that's not the case. "It's not a collaboration. It's called thievery," explained Kelis, in her own words.