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The Kelis Duel With Beyoncé Perfectly Explains Why Black Capitalism Won’t Save You

The “Milkshake” creator is right but shouting into a powerless void.

Andrew Ricketts
4 min readJul 30, 2022


There’s something classically alluring about the underdog.

That’s why I rooted for Allen Iverson.

Or Nas when he battled Jay-Z.

David and Goliath is a redemptive story because we see ourselves as counted out, ignored, overlooked, or stepped on.

Never mind that David became king of an oppressive religious patriarchy that could be used to prop up everything from sexism to slavery.

He beat the giant. That’s what mattered.

He wasn’t supposed to win, but, lo and behold, he triumphed.

But the culture of celebrity has warped who we label the underdog.

Right now, iron-clad heroes, newly minted billionaires, and monarchs are the underdogs. They’re also the heroes. None of it makes sense.

Kelis is a great artist of R&B and punk fame. She’s created a lane for quirky Black girls with sharp vocal styles and outspoken attitudes. She’s not afraid to be “Bossy,” and without her, there’s no Lizzo, no Syd, no Leikeili47.

Along the way, she married and divorced Nas, one of the greatest rap artists. She also had to battle his fanbase when they split and Nas purposely made her out to be the villain in their divorce in an album-long diatribe. She recently lost her husband, Mike Mora, to gastrointestinal cancer. Kelis had reinvented herself in a way that so many Black women artists don’t get to: apart from the fame while keeping an influence stronghold in the realm of carefree Black girl bops.

Beyoncé, well. We know the story of Beyoncé because she has assiduously crafted that story, video by video, release by release, and surprise multimedia drop by surprise multimedia drop. She is a force. Her seven studio albums—and laser-focused compilations and live events—catalog entire chunks of her and her audience’s growth phases. You could not be a girl, woman, mother, sister, Black, American, English-speaking in the past 20 years and not had a Beyoncé song imprinted on your intimate memories. For her loyalists, she…



Andrew Ricketts

I’m a Caribbean and American writer from New York. My stories are about coming-of-age, learning how to relate, and family. It’s a living, breathing memoir.