Beyoncé's Renaissance Samples Everyone From Kelis To Right Said Fred

Her seventh album is dedicated to the “pioneers who originate culture.”

INDIO, CA - APRIL 21:  Beyonce Knowles performs onstage during the 2018 Coachella Valley Music And A...
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If you haven’t released your job yet as Beyoncé commanded on “Break My Soul,” now is the time. Beyoncé’s seventh studio album Renaissance finally arrived on July 28, and it’s a musical journey that requires all of your attention. Renaissance is a love letter to her LGBTQ+ fans and family, most notably her late Uncle Jonny, and the dance music icons within those communities whose contributions have gone unrecognized for far too long, and nowhere is that reflected more than in the album’s samples.

On Renaissance, Beyoncé honors the pioneers of ‘90s rap, house, disco, and gospel by adding iconic synths across the album’s pristine production and interpolating catchy melodies into her own quotable, mindblowing lyrics. The singer samples everything from modern classics like Kelis’ “Milkshake” and Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” to underrated gems like Big Freedia’s “Explode.” And while she takes care to honor underrecognized artists we’ve lost like Teena Marie and Moi Renee, she also makes sure to give people their flowers while they’re still alive, as succinctly said by Robin S., whose hit “Show Me Love” is sampled on “Break My Soul.”

In the album’s booklet, Beyoncé dedicated Renaissance to her gay Uncle Jonny, who passed away due to an AIDS-related illness in the ‘90s, and all of the artists that he introduced her to growing up, many of which are sampled. “A big thank you to my Uncle Jonny,” the letter reads. “He was my godmother and the first person to expose me to a lot of the music and culture that serve as inspiration for this album. Thank you to all of the pioneers who originate culture, to all of the fallen angels whose contributions have gone unrecognized for far too long. This is a celebration for you.” Read about every song sampled on Renaissance below.

“I’m That Girl”

Tommy Wright III, Princess Loko & Mac T-Dog - “Still Pimpin’”

The opening line, “These motherf*ckers ain’t stopping me,” that’s repeated throughout the bassline of “I’m That Girl” is sung by late rapper Princess Loko on her collaborator Tommy Wright III’s 1995 song “Still Pimpin’.”


Ts Madison’s “Bitch I’m Black” Speech

The speech heard toward the end of “Cozy” is taken from a spoken-word monologue by actor and reality star Ts Madison, who became the first Black trans woman to have her own reality show. Madison was touched by Beyoncé’s use of her words, as she posted on Instagram. “Thank you @beyonce, I am so HONORED that you chose Me for this,” she wrote. “Thank you soooo much!!!”

Lidell Townsell & M.T.F. - “Get With U”

“Alien Superstar”

Right Said Fred - “I’m Too Sexy”

The chorus on “Alien Superstar” is a direct interpolation of the iconic melody of Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy,” which has also been sampled by everyone from Drake to Taylor Swift.

Danube Dance feat. Kim Cooper - “Unique”

The sporadic repeating of “unique” sprinkled into “Alien Superstar,” meant to remind us of our best qualities, is acutally lifted from Danube Dance’s 1991 dance mix.

Foremost Poets - “Moonraker”

That chilling intro telling us to stay on the dancefloor during an emergency is taken from Foremost Poets’ ‘90s techno track “Moonraker.”

Barbara Ann Teer - “Black Theater”

The speech toward the end of “Alien Superstar” about acting a “certain way” is taken from late writer Barbara Ann Teer’s “Black Theater” monologue. Teer founded Harlem’s National Black Theater, the first profitable black theater arts complex in the U.S.

“Cuff It”

Teena Marie - “Ooo La La La”


Kelis - “Milkshake”

“Energy” includes a slight interpolation of Kelis’ breakout hit — and she’s not happy about it. In the comments of an Instagram post, Kelis revealed she found out about the sample when the public did. “My mind is blown too because the level of disrespect and utter ignorance of all 3 parties involved is astounding,” she said.

The singer is not a credited songwriter on “Milkshake,” and the song’s publishing rights are owned by producers Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, which she has spoken out against previously. So while Beyoncé did not need her permission to sample the song, Kelis said she would’ve appreciated her reaching out. “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,” she said in an Instagram video. “It’s not that hard to contact [me]. It’s just common decency.”

“Break My Soul”

Big Freedia - “Explode”

The song’s most quotable lines commanding us to release our jobs (and wiggles) come courtesy of the 2014 hit “Explode” by Big Freedia, who also collaborated with Beyoncé on her 2016 album Lemonade.

Robin S - “Show Me Love”

The iconic synthline of Robin S’ ‘90s house hit “Show Me Love” was interpolated into a new melody for the lead single of Renaissance, an acknowledgment that the singer was touched by. “I’m very appreciative and honored that I’m getting my flowers while I’m alive,” she told Vulture.

“Church Girl”

The Clark Sisters - “Center Of Thy Will”

The choral, gospel-inspired intro of “Church Girl” was lifted from The Clark Sisters’ hymn “Center Of Thy Will,” a gesture that member and songwriter Twinkie Clark was elated by. “Thanks Beyoncé for listening to my music, and I hope it blesses your soul,” she said in a video posted to Twitter.

The Showboys - “Drag Rap (Triggaman)”

The progression of the line “She gon' shake that ass and them pretty tig old bitties” is an element from The Showboys’ bounce track “Drag Rap.”

DJ Jimi - “Where They At”

The lines “It must be the cash 'cause it ain't your face” and “Now do it, baby, stick it, baby, do it, baby, stick it” are an interpolation of a similar but more NSFW lyric from DJ Jimi’s 1992 track “Where They At,” which has also been sampled by the likes of Nelly.

Lyn Collins - “Think (About It)”

Grover Washington, Jr. - “Mister Magic”

“America Has A Problem”

Kilo Ali - “Cocaine (America Has A Problem)”

The intro and song title of “America Has A Problem” comes from Atlanta rapper Kilo Ali’s 1992 track “Cocaine (America Has A Problem),” which also became the name of his debut album.


Moi Renee - “Miss Honey”

The outro of “Pure/Honey” comes from drag queen Moi Renee’s dance hit “Miss Honey,” which was released in 1990 and made her one of the late pioneers of the underground drag scene.

Kevin Aviance - “C*nty (Wave Mix)”

The fierce chants of “c*nty” layered throughout “Pure/Honey” is the voice of famed New York drag queen Kevin Aviance, who was thrilled by Beyoncé’s use of the sample given her emoji-filled Instagram post.

“Summer Renaissance”

Donna Summer - “I Feel Love”

Renaissance ends with perhaps the most prominent sample on the album, Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” which Rolling Stone just named the best dance song of all time. Beyoncé bases her sensual and playful ode to love on the 1977 hit’s iconic bassline and heavenly chorus, signifying the end of a true dance-inspired album.