One For The Older Crowd! … Billboard – Does Kelis Have a Legal Standing in Beef Over Beyoncé’s ‘Milkshake’ Interpolation?

Just ask. That appears to be the bottom line of Kelis‘ series of comments about the use of her signature 2003 hit “Milkshake” as part of the new Beyoncé Renaissance song “Energy.” In a pair of videos posted on Thursday (July 28), Kelis repeatedly stressed that she wasn’t specifically mad at Bey for the use of the song, but that she’s insulted and feels disrespected by the lack of a heads up.

Her ire seems specifically targeted at her former frequent collaborators, The Neptunes’ Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, whom she has long claimed have not given her proper credit for the songs they worked on together on her first three albums. “I know what I own and what I don’t own. I also know the lies that were told,” Kelis said in one of the videos, repeating a frequent refrain about her dispute with Hugo and Williams over songwriting credits.

“I also know the things that were stolen. Publishing was stolen, people were swindled out of rights. It happens all the time, especially back then. So, it’s not about me being mad about Beyoncé,” she continued.

The oft-sampled “Milkshake” is one of several songs folded into “Energy” — and, it’s worth noting, it is listed as an interpolation, not a sample — alongside tracks from Big Freedia and Teena Marie. The Beyoncé song’s provenance for “Milkshake” read, “written by Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo and performed by Kelis,” with Hugo and Williams also listed among the 14 songwriters who contributed to the 1:57-long Renaissance dance jam.

So, if Kelis is not listed as a songwriter or producer on the song, were Bey or Pharrell required to reach out to her for permission to use “Milkshake”? The simple legal answer is no. Because she is not credited as a songwriter on the track, she would not be a co-owner of the publishing copyright — meaning she would not have any right to approve or deny the use of it in Beyoncé’s track.

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