The Controversies Over Beyoncé’s Latest Album Renaissance, Explained

Beyonce's 2022 album Renaissance
(Image credit: Columbia Records)

This weekend, Beyoncé fans were gifted with the first new album from the beloved icon and Oscar-nominee (for her work on King Richard) since her 2019 The Lion King-inspired album with RENAISSANCE. The 16-track album was quickly hailed a “masterpiece” and broke streaming records. However, in the less than a week that the dance-y and sultry collection of songs were released, a number of controversies have already surfaced. We’ll catch you up. 

RENAISSANCE is Beyoncé’s seventh studio album following the cultural phenomenon that was 2016’s Lemonade that brought out Jay-Z’s infidelities in their relationship. Aside from the latest album hyping up fans with tracks like “ALIEN SUPERSTAR” and “VIRGO’S GROOVE,” here are the controversies the album has already been hit with after Beyoncé bared it all for the new release. 

One Song On Renaissance Had A Slur

On the track “Heated,” the song used the words “spaz” and “spazzin,” which is considered an ableist slur to those who have cerebral palsy, a condition that causes motor impairments in the arms and legs. Disability rights advocates noticed the use of the word in the song and urged Beyoncé to change her lyrics. 

Following the backlash, the spokeswoman for the singer said the word was “not used intentionally in a harmful way, will be replaced,” per the NY Times. The song has since been updated on music streaming services with the word “blast”. In June, Lizzo faced backlash for using the same word in her song “Grrrls,” which she has since updated as well. 

Beyoncé Sampled ‘Milkshake’ Without Permission

But, the lyric change in “Heated” isn’t the only thing that was updated in RENAISSANCE. Kelis, a singer best known for her hit song “Milkshake,” took to social media to share her anger over the 2003 song being a sample in Beyoncé song “Energy” without a credit to her, calling it “theft” in an Instagram post from a fan. Two producers of “Milkshake,” Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, were listed as co-writers of “Energy,” but Kelis was left out. She posted this blunt response: 

A post shared by Kelis (@kelis)

A photo posted by on

As Kelis shared, she was frustrated that Beyoncé and her co-writers did not have the “common decency” to call her up and let her know her music would be part of “Energy.” When the RENAISSANCE update was made, the Kelis sample was also removed. 

Now Monica Lewinsky Wants Out Of An Older Beyoncé Song

If all that heat wasn’t enough, former White House intern Monica Lewinsky has become part of the RENAISSANCE controversy. In response to seeing the news about Beyoncé removing the slur from her new song, Lewinsky said this on Twitter

uhmm, while we’re at it… #Partition

“Partition” is a 2013 song that came out on the singer's self-titled album Beyoncé. On the song, Beyoncé sings “He Monica Lewinsky'd all on my gown.” The lyrics is a reference to Lewinsky famously wearing a blue dress that was covered in former President Bill Clinton’s semen during one of their Oval Office assignations and later became a piece of evidence in his impeachment hearings after their sex scandal. Beyoncé namedrops Lewinsky to imply a mess on a dress, as the song details a sexual situation. It’s clearly a lyric Lewinsky has not been keen on over the years. 

It’s both Beyoncé’s week and really not her week as a number of controversies sprung out after the release of RENAISSANCE. If you do happen to be on the Queen Bey hype train, you can revisit her incredible Coachella set and self-directed documentary Homecoming with a Netflix subscription

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.