What Made Beyonce Remove The Kelis Sample From ‘Energy?’

Sharp-eared fans who pressed play on Beyonce’s new album Renaissance today may have noticed that a couple of the songs sound slightly different than they did on Friday when it dropped. On one song, “Heated,” a line has been changed to replace a word described as a slur by disability activists, following up on similar actions taken by fellow star Lizzo when the same concerns were raised over her song “Grrrls.”

The other subtle but big change to Renaissance appears in the song “Energy.” Prior to the album’s release, “Milkshake” singer Kelis posted a video raising concerns with the song, which she had been informed would include a sample of one of her songs. Kelis believed that she was not credited and also felt that she deserved a heads-up call from either Beyonce or the song’s producers. It later turned out that while “Energy” does include interpolation of Kelis’ hit “Milkshake,” the songwriting was properly credited to Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, aka The Neptunes, who wrote and produced the original.

However, that didn’t stop fans from debating whether or not there was an uncredited sample of Kelis singing in “Energy,” so Beyonce apparently updated the song on DSPs to remove a vocal clip toward the end of the track. Industry veteran Naima Cochran, whom Uproxx interviewed about the dispute, believes that Beyonce did so to remove a distraction from the larger discussion she hoped to spark with Renaissance about the breadth and history of Black music, which includes pioneering dance music styles like house and techno in addition to hip-hop and R&B.

So, technically, Beyonce did NOT remove a sample of Kelis from “Energy” because there never was one in the first place. However, she did remove disputed vocals that some fans thought were similar enough to cause confusion. The interpolation of drums from Kelis’ single “Milkshake” remains, but it was properly credited to its original songwriters, The Neptunes. For more information, you can check out our interview with Naima, who brings 20+ years of music business experience with multiple music labels to her expert perspective.