Kelly accuses Beyoncé and Pharrell of ‘stealing’ song on ‘Renaissance’


Kelis accused Beyoncé and songwriters and producers Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo of discovering a song from Beyoncé’s highly anticipated new album, “Renaissance,” on Thursday night, containing an episode from Kelis’s hit single “Milkshake.”

Earlier this week, an Instagram fan page noticed this usage. On Thursday, Kelly commented in a post that she had not been contacted before Beyoncé’s track was released. She pointed out the “level of disrespect and total ignorance on all 3 parties” – explicitly mentioning Beyoncé, Williams and Hugo – and expanded on her in two videos later posted to her personal Instagram page of frustration.

“This is not collaboration,” she said. “It’s called theft because the definition of collaboration means we’re working together. If you don’t check if everything is fine, there’s no collaboration.”

Representatives for Beyoncé and Williams did not respond to The Washington Post’s request for comment.

Here’s one of the most high-profile copyright cases of the past decade — and how experts distinguish between infringement and inspiration. (Video: Daron Taylor, Sarah Hashemi/The Washington Post)

According to forensic musicologist and Berklee College of Music professor Joe Bennett, there are two main copyrights in music: musical compositions related to songwriting and publishing; and sound recordings, often referred to as masters. A common industry model that Taylor Swift has developed in recent years is that the labels own the masters and the songwriters own the music.

Bennett said Beyonce, Williams and Hugo were not legally obligated to contact Kelly before pulling out of “The Milkshake,” because Williams and Hugo, who produced the 2003 single Neptune, were also the only ones listed on the list. out songwriter. They received writing credit on Beyoncé’s track “Energy”, full credit noting that the song contains an interpolation of Kelis’ “Milkshake”. (Interpolation means “Energy” doesn’t contain the actual audio from “Milkshake,” but an interpretation of it.)

“Legally,” Bennett said, “this case is open and closed.”

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But for Kelly, who was nominated for a Grammy for Best Urban/Alternative Performance for “Milkshake,” it came down to “general decency.” In her second Instagram video, she said her anger was “not really about Beyoncé,” but against what she saw as “a lot of hypocrisy.” Williams has spoken openly about how artists should own their music, or have the power to redo deals, she said. But early in her career, she struck a deal with Williams and Hugo that she now considers unfair.

Kelly met Neptune when she was 19 through a mutual friend, and they hit it off creatively. Speaking to The Guardian two years ago about her early music, Kelly recalled that she was “told we were going to split the whole thing on 33/33/33, but we didn’t do that.” She Said she was “blatantly cheated and deceived” and that she didn’t make money from the sales of her first two albums, both of which Neptune produced.

“Their argument was: ‘Okay, you signed it.’ I thought: ‘Yeah, I signed what I was told, and I was too young and stupid to double-check it,'” Kelly told the Guardian. .

In a second Instagram video, Kelis reiterated that she knows “what I have and what I don’t have”.

“I also know the lies being told,” she continued. “I know what’s stolen too. Publishing is stolen and people are disenfranchised. It happens all the time, especially back then. So it’s not because I’m mad at Beyoncé.”

Beyoncé has announced that her seventh solo studio album, “Renaissance,” will be the first of a “Three Act Project.” The album’s launch thus far has been more traditional than one might imagine for Beyonce, who is known for curated surprises. She teased its release with the explosive single “Break My Soul,” which contained a sample of Robin S’s song “Show Me Love.”

“Show Me Love” goes to Alan George and Fred MacFarlane — who, in a similar way to Williams and Hugo, received writing credits on Beyoncé’s track. Like Kelis, Robin S didn’t realize her work had been sampled until she heard “Break My Soul.” But she’s delighted with the usage, telling Ebony magazine that Beyonce is “part of my legacy and I’m now part of her legacy”.

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