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Thread started 10/18/05 5:23am


Vanity Fair Misrepresents Songwriter Beyonce

Vanity Fair Misrepresents Songwriter Beyonce
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
By Roger Friedman

Beyonce: She Didn’t Write The Songs

Vanity Fair finally puts a solo African-American on its cover, and doesn’t do any fact checking.

Beyonce Knowles, who’s full of sass and has a striking voice, actually thinks she’s a songwriter. She says so in the new Vanity Fair.

In fact, Beyonce did not write her big hit "Crazy in Love," or even conceive of it. "Crazy in Love"—its horns, percussion, chief melody and overall "feel"—was written by the late and very great Eugene Record of The Chi-Lites. (He died this summer.) The group recorded and released it in 1969 as "Are You My Woman (Tell Me So)."

Indeed, the person who sought out the track was hip-hop producer Rich Harrison. He’s the go-to guy when you need to sample something obscure because you can’t write your own music. He told in February 2004 that he’d had the sample for some time, long before Beyonce knew about it. "Yeah, I had it in the chamber," he told the Web site. "I hadn't really shopped it much, because sometimes you don't want to come out of the bag before it's right."

(Story continues below)


Harrison then brought Jay-Z in to add a rap. The result was such a success that Harrison would later adapt the horn section from the Chi-Lites' record for similar records he produced for pop singers Amerie and Jennifer Lopez.

The Vanity Fair article, however, makes it seem like Beyonce is a genius songwriter who came up with all this stuff. Knowles says, without her veracity being questioned: "'Crazy in Love' was really hard to write because there was so much going on… I mean, I had written –what?—seven, eight number one songs with Destiny’s Child, in a row." Of Jay-Z's added rap: "I knew the song wasn’t complete because the horns were so old school…"

There, she is correct. The horns were old school. They were charted 36 years ago by Record, who also wrote "Have You Seen Her?," "Oh Girl," "Am I The Same Girl?" and many other classic R&B hits. Unfortunately he’s no longer here to defend himself.

In the Vanity Fair article, Beyonce also claims to have “written” seven number one songs. Again, not exactly. Her name is on them all. But “Independent Woman, Pt. 1” was authored by Samuel J. Barnes and Jean Claude Olivier, tweaked by producer Cory Rooney, and added to by…Beyonce. Olivier and Barnes also worked on constructing Jennifer Lopez’s “Jenny from the Block.”

“Say My Name,” a big Destiny’s Child hit, was written by Rodney Jerkins, his brother Freddie, and Rodney’s writing partner LeShawn Daniels. The names of the four girls from the group were added again, so they could share in the collection of royalties.

There’s more: "Baby Boy" was based on a hit by reggae star Ini Kamoze called "Here Comes the Hot Stepper." "Naughty Girl" is merely a hefty sample of Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder’s "Love to Love You Baby." "Bills Bills Bills" was written by singer/songwriter Kandi Burruss and producer Kevin Briggs. "Nasty Girl" and "Survivor" were the work of composer/producer Anthony Dent, who had to share credit with not only Beyonce but also her father, Matthew Knowles. "Bootylicious" is simply Stevie Nicks’s "Edge of Seventeen." Nicks, following Sting’s lead from years ago with Puff Daddy/Diddy’s sample of "Every Breath You Take," did not allow Destiny’s Child or Beyonce to get any royalties at all. Rock on, Stevie!

In fact, not one of the songs listed under Beyonce’s name on the BMI website is written solely by her. They are usually credited to a list of songwriters. The list comprises the actual writers, and then a few people who’ve "tweaked" the song with a rap or by adding samples. But this is the way it’s done in hip-hop and rap. "Writing" a song has new meaning. It means "licensing" the song from another writer. The word "composer" is not in the hip-hop dictionary.

This can make for a peculiar situation at the Grammy Awards. In 2000, Jerkins and his writing team had to share the Grammy for Best R&B Song for “Say My Name” with the members of Destiny’s Child because their names were on the credits.

In 2003, Beyonce, Harrison, and Jay-Z won a couple of Grammy’s including Best R&B Song for “Crazy in Love.” Record’s name isn’t even listed on the Grammy website and he was the writer. (Hopefully his widow is getting checks.)

Over the weekend I discussed this phenomenon with a famous songwriter concerning rapper Nelly, whose albums—like Kanye West’s—are made up of samples of previous works. I thought they’d find the whole thing deplorable. Not so. "Really?" they said, realizing the revenue that could be realized. "I’ll send him my whole catalogue for his next one!"

Otherwise, Vanity Fair’s annual music issue, as has been noted elsewhere, is an attempt to make up for not including African-Americans in years of previous issues. The magazine photographed nearly all the most famous members of the hip-hop and rap community. Most of them fare very well, although Sean “Diddy” Combs probably regrets his portrait.
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Reply #1 posted 10/18/05 5:40am



these poor kids sample so much they think they are songwriters....
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Reply #2 posted 10/18/05 8:13pm


Don't worry, those big samples cost a buttload and have to be approved by the original writers for them to even use the music.

Beyonce doesn't write the beats, but she does the lyrics.
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Reply #3 posted 10/18/05 8:59pm


I used to be a huge supporter of Beyonce's "producing" skills because I'm sucha big fan. When I mentioned that she was a good producer and songwriter to an acquaintance online she retorted, "What does she do, come up with the song titles?"

I now seriously question Beyonce's writing skills. There were rumors about how her father was trying to strong arm producers to give her songwriting credit or they wouldn't get hired. The producer for "Crazy In Love" told the story of how he had to come up with lyrics for the beat that he supplied for "Crazy In Love" in a couple hours while Beyonce went shopping. The girls got so much credit for "The Writing's On The Wall" that I naturally thought they had a hand in writing but c'mon. It was telling that Kelly had no songwriting credits on "Survivor" except that spoken word thing they did that hardly counts as songwriting. When The Spice Girls were together they all got songwriting credit on every song and lets face it no matter how much we love and miss them they're pretty bubble headed. There's no way they had a hand in writing those songs otherwise they'd be the next Cathy Dennis's.

I read this article and knew Beyonce would get into trouble for trumpeting her songwriting accomplishments. Sure you're talented and pretty and have a ton of charisma with that unmistakeable divazilla aura but the only familiarity she has with a studio is probably knowing where the front door is.
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