Let's say that you are one of the biggest selling female groups, ever. Your combined record sales total over 40 million records, worldwide. You've seen your albums debut at the top of the charts, and stay there. You've racked up enumerable industry awards, accolades and platinum or gold records. Not only is your group successful, but its individual members have all had superlative solo achievements and as a result you that collectively and on your own, you are what modern female pop/R&B is meant to sound, feel and sell like. How do you possibly attempt match, much less top, your impressive statistics?
When you're Destiny's Child, the answer's easy. You see your past as a guide to your potential and seize the future with the most compelling music of your career. In short, you fulfill your destiny.
Destiny Fulfilled is Destiny's Child's sixth album. Filled with soaring harmonies, rich with rhythm and nuance and brimming with a passionate, purposeful style that is quintessentially their own, Destiny Fulfilled is not only the strongest album of the group's career: it is the album they were destined to make.
Destiny Fulfilled is executive produced by Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams & Mathew Knowles. Beyoncé is the key producer of all the album's tracks and the record's musical concepts and vocal arrangements are the result of her artistic vision. Her tireless work ethic and attention to studio details have created the masterfully seamless flow, boundless energy and exquisite polish of Destiny Fulfilled.
Listening to Destiny Fulfilled, you are immediately struck by Destiny's Child growth as singers, songwriters, artists and women. Destiny Fulfilled is markedly more mature and focused, reflecting Beyoncé's, Kelly's and Michelle's emotional development while mirroring their true-life experiences.
"You hear our vulnerability," Beyoncé offers. "We've always had strong songs that encouraged women and you still hear that this time, but you will also hear our weaknesses: the crying, the laughter, the friendship. The song on this album are far more layered and involved because we have the tools to talk about a lot more, because we're older and have experienced a lot more than we did when we were teenagers."
While Destiny Fulfilled might surprise some long time fans with its breadth and depth, it is also an album that many of those same fans thought might never see the light of day. After all it's been three years since 2001's Survivor, and as any one can tell you, three years away from the game can be a lifetime. In addition, during the group's hiatus, each of the ladies embarked on solo projects. Yet after all those individual accomplishments, Destiny's Child are back on the charts; putting all those rumors to rest.
"We always said we were going to do solo records after Survivor and then come back and do another record," Kelly explains, referring to DC's game plan. "We've maintained our friendship and supported each other's projects and enjoy each other," Beyoncé continues. "We wanted to do another record. I know we have a lot of fans that want to hear it and, more importantly, we wanted to do it because we love this collaboration. It was important for us to do our own things, so that we'd have the opportunity to grow and see what we could do on our own. It's really beautiful to do that and then also have the opportunity to come back together and have the fun we have when we are together. When you have that sort of friendship, recording doesn't feel like work."
Acknowledging that in the past some listeners might not have been completely aware of the extent of Kelly and Michelle's contributions to the group's music, Beyoncé points out that solo projects offered each of them a platform to establish a personal musical identity. When it came time to record Destiny Fulfilled, she explains that "as the vocal producer, my main job was to let people know how beautiful Kelly and Michelle sound and how talented they are. It's amazing that we have a group with three women who are singers. Not dancers but singers. Our solo projects and now this album prove once and for all what we already knew: that every woman in this group can stand on her own."
Destiny Fulfilled encompasses a wide array of sonic influences from the lush orchestration of Philly soul to club-savvy crunk to contemporary gospel. Vocally the group looked to "the true hard R&B singers (like Jodeci and SWV) for inspiration. When it comes to the harmonies and arrangements we really challenged ourselves and did things we've never done before," Kelly observes.
One of the biggest challenges came in the form of Destiny Fulfilled's thematic approach. More than a collection of songs, Destiny Fulfilled is a story of a woman's journey through the highs and lows of falling in and out of love. Unfolding chapter by chapter, the story begins with the propulsive and sexually charged "Lose My Breath," which reunites Destiny's Child with longtime friend and collaborator Rodney Jerkins. "Working with Rodney again was wonderful," Michelle declares. "He came in with this new energy and this new sound."
"When we first heard 'Lose My Breath,' we were very excited because it was just so up-tempo and even the up-tempo songs these days aren't really that energized," Beyoncé continues. "The beat reminded me of college football drumlines. It reminded me of childhood rhythms that made you wanna dance really hard which is where we got the title from, 'cause when you move like that you lose your breath."
Following the exhilaration of meeting the guy, the story segues into the rough and rugged "Soldier," produced by Rich Harrison and featuring Lil Wayne and T.I. If "Lose My Breath" captures the first rush of lust, then the down and dirty south grooves of "Soldier" breaks things down to a woman's expectations and the undeniable fact that she needs a soldier to protect her. From "Soldier" comes the vulnerability and naked devotion expressed in the Jerkins-produced "Cater 2 U." With lines like, "Let me help you take off your shoes/ let me feed you whatever you desire," "Cater 2 U" is about finding that special "soldier" and doing everything you can to please him. Quite a shift from "Independent Woman"! "Yeah we're showing our softer side," agrees Kelly. "I know some people will be shocked by that song but it's about doing these things for your man only if he's really worthy of them."
From that heart-on-the-sleeve sentiment, Destiny Fulfilled then takes the listener on an intimate trip as the protagonist lusts over her lover (the frankly sensual "T Shirt"), begins to wonder if her man is doing her wrong (in the 70's soul-influenced "Is She The Reason"), realizes that she's not afraid to let him know she's over him, that moment when your girls rally behind you to give you support (the mid-tempo anthem "Girl"), then on to "Bad Habit," produced by Michael Bryan Cox with all the emotion that let's you know that man could be an addiction and features Kelly Rowland on lead vocals to (the soaring, Rockwilder-produced "If"), experiences the resignation of giving up (the cascading, emotional "Through With Love," featuring, and produced by, Mario Winans), and then finally reaches the point when she's finally able to find real love, witnessed by the inspirational "Love," the first non-gospel production from Michelle's brother, Erron Williams.
According to Beyoncé , "'Love' concludes the story, because we find the love we've always had with God. That's the destiny that's been fulfilled because the woman is searching for love and eventually she finds it in God and herself and because of that she can eventually find love with a man."
In an unusual move, Destiny's Child allotted a scant three weeks for recording, banning anyone not involved with integral creative support from the studio. "We've never worked that way before," admits Michelle, "but it became yet another challenge. I think having such a brief time (to record) really forced us to focus." Not that things were all work and no play. As Kelly tells it," As soon as we got back into the studio we all just started running our mouths, catching up, having fun. There is nothing like the support of Beyoncé and Michelle."
After completing work on Survivor (which won the Best R&B Performance By A Duo or Group with Vocals Grammy) and 8 Days of Christmas in 2001, Beyoncé, Kelly and Michelle each took some time to explore their individual identities in a series of highly-successful solo projects.
In April 2002, Michelle Williams became the first member of Destiny's Child to have a solo project released. Heart To Yours, Michelle's contemporary gospel collection, reached #1 on the Top Gospel Albums chart. Michelle's second gospel album, Do You Know reached the #2 slot on the Top Christian Album chart and #3 on the Top Gospel Albums chart shortly after its release in January 2004. A re-release of Do You Know, featuring two new bonus tracks, is slated for release in December 2004. Michelle earned rave reviews after replacing Toni Braxton in the lead role of "Aida" on Broadway in November 2003.
Released in October 2002, Kelly Rowland's solo debut, Simply Deep featured the #1 Billboard Hot 100 smash hit, "Dilemma," Kelly's Grammy-winning (Best Rap/Sung Collaboration) duet with hip-hop superstar Nelly. The album became an international smash, hitting the #1 slot on the UK and several other countries' album charts while peaking in the states at #3 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album chart. Simply Deep
Beyoncé's burgeoning career as an actress began in 2001 with the lead role in the MTV film "Carmen: A Hip Hopera." She displayed her comedic prowess as "Foxxy Cleopatra" in 2002's "Austin Powers In Goldmember," starring Mike Myers. She starred opposite Cuba Gooding, Jr., in 2003's "The Fighting Temptations." Her latest film project is a prequel to "The Pink Panther," starring Steve Martin as "Inspector Clouseau" and Beyoncé as "Xania."
Beyoncé toured America for the first time as a solo artist in support of her #1 multi-platinum debut solo album, Dangerously In Love, which earned her five 2004 Grammy Awards including Best Contemporary R&B Album and Best R&B Song for "Crazy In Love," her smash single featuring Jay-Z. With her five Grammy win, Beyoncé tied the record set by Lauryn Hill in 1999--and later tied by Alicia Keys (2001) and Norah Jones (2002)--for the most Grammys to be won in a single year by a female artist.
Working apart from each other gave the members of Destiny's Child a new-found appreciation of what each of them brings to the group and that support, love, confidence and maturity is clearly evident throughout Destiny Fulfilled's moving and soulful songs.
Asked what they hope their millions of fans around the globe will get from this most personal of projects and Beyoncé speaks from the heart: "We want this album to be timeless and set a new standard. Even though it would be great to sell a lot of records, our goal is already accomplished by making this album. Hopefully coming back together again will inspire other groups to support each other, be happy for each other, and to let people know it's alright to go out on your own but it's also alright to come back together."
Beyoncé, Kelly and Michelle have used the lessons learned during their own solo excursions to create the most unified and powerful Destiny's Child album to-date. With Destiny Fulfilled, the group delivers on the promise of its earlier recordings to breathe new fire into the worlds of contemporary pop and R&B music.