The year was 2004 and urban music was killing the game. Artist like Outkast, Usher and Ciara were finding major success on the Billboard charts and Crunk music was in the middle of its nation wide reign. Four years earlier after the successful release of their album Survivor, Destiny’s Child announced that the group was taking a brief hiatus. The break was put in place so that each member had the opportunity to release solo material. There was also talk from their manager Matthew Knowles that the solo albums would help with Destiny’s Child’s “over exposure” at the time. Hmmph .The result; Michelle Williams’ Heart To Yours (2002) and Do You Know (2004), Kelly Rowland’s Simply Deep (2002) and Beyoncé’s Dangerously In Love (2003). By the summer of 2004, the ladies kept their promise and retuned back to the studio as a group. Destiny Fulfilled was released November 16, 2004.
Destiny Fulfilled was the album that solidified Destiny’s Child’s big comeback and dramatic departure all in the same breath. It was the album that gave us dance bops, hood classics and sisterly empowerment. With all of the media hype surrounding the group and their mutual “breakup”, the album proved that a highly successful girl group could end their tenure with class and grace.
From the gate, Destiny’s Child wanted to make sure that they showed their growth as artist. Their previous album Survivor was a pop heavy fun album that only hinted at adult oriented themes. Destiny Fulfilled showcased a more mature side of Destiny’s Child and furthermore, a more sexier side of the group. Never before had Destiny’s Child sang about sex so fluently. The first single Lose My Breath is literally about a man who is having a hard time sending his girl into an orgasm. “Can you keep up? Baby boy make me lose my breath”! Who can forget Michelle’s hot and steamy verse in the sultry track T-shirt? “You’re so deep, baby please, take it easy”. This new boldness strengthened their independent women persona and added a sexiness that they did not posses in the past.
With this new maturity, Destiny’s Child decided that for this album their image had to change as well. No more late 1990s Tina Knowles originals. They were trying to prove that they were indeed grown women! Looking back, it is hard to believe how young the girls were at the time. The ladies were between the ages of 23 and 24 but were easily giving you early 30s realness.
Now to the sound of the album. As stated earlier, urban music was HOT at the time. That kid-like music of the early 2000s was dead. It was all about that 808 and trap. Reminiscent of The Writings on the Wall album, Fulfilled was sure enough and down right R&B with a sprinkle of Hip Hop. Producers from Rockwilder and Rodney Jerkins, to Bryan Michael Cox and Sean Garrett all helped to take the group in a new direction.
Destiny’s Child’s second single Soldier is a testament of the groups departure from their earlier pop sound. It was time to give Destiny’s Child some street cred. How do you do that? Add Lil Wayne and TI on the track. The song gave each girl the chance to explain what kind of man they were attracted to. “Gotta carry big things if you know what I mean”. Not to mention, the girls were in the music video wearing furs, walking Dobermans, hip rolling and doing the chicken head.
The album in full told the story of a woman looking for love, losing love and eventually finding true love within self. Years later, we would find out that the album was inspired by Kelly Rowland’s real life issues with her then boyfriend. The album was probably their most personal which really gave it that classic R&B feel.
With Lose My Breath and Soldier being the only upbeat dance songs on the album, Destiny’s Child took a major risk. The majority of the album contained samples from 1970s R&B classics and pure singing. The risk was high but the outcome was outstanding. Vocally, the girls were singing better than they had ever sang before. Some may have never paid attention to the background vocals on the album. Destiny’s Child added their harmonies behind the lead vocals and played around with the background vocals. You could hear the girls singing something completely different than the lead vocals all at the same time (Something that Motown would make famous). This really showed that the group wanted to leave their mark not only as entertainers but as true vocalist. Listen to songs like If and Free to hear the magic.
What was good about Fulfilled is that every member had a hand in the writing and production of the album. Not only that, but like in their previous album each member had a share in the singing. Beyoncé of course was still the main and dominate voice (Especially in the choruses), but Kelly and Michelle’s verses were extended (Not counting Michelle’s verse in Lose My Breath) and gave room to showcase their individual vocal talents. Kelly even had a full song all to herself with Bad Habit.
Girl and Cater 2 U were the album’s third and fourth singles. They did not crack the top ten on the Hot 100 chart like their predecessors but were still successful on the R&B charts. Girl was the female empowerment record that made it clear that women HAVE to have each other’s backs. That type of message had been set in stone by Destiny’s Child since the group’s formation.
Cater 2 U might be considered one of Destiny’s Child’s signature songs. The song shows the girls taking care of their men’s needs and assuring to them that they will always be there. “I got your slippers, your dinner, your dessert and so much more”. The release of this song was very important to Destiny’s Child’s brand. For years they were considered “male bashers” by the press. With past songs like Bills, Bills, Bills, Bugaboo and Say My Name, the girls made a reputation for calling men out on their nonsense. With Cater, Destiny’s Child offered a more sweet and softer side in regards to dealing with men. Taking the song even further, the group performed the track at the BET Awards and gave the lap dance seen around the world. Remember that?
In April of 2005, Destiny’s Child set out on the Destiny Fulfilled… and Lovin’ It world tour. This tour played 67 shows and grossed $70.8 million in the U.S. alone. It was their farewell tour and obviously was a huge deal. Still keeping their growth as artist in the forefront, the Lovin’ It tour saw the girls more polished on the stage. The groups previous tour dvd Destiny’s Child in Concert looked like a Disney talent show compared to the new tour.
The group was everywhere at this time and the success was major. By January of 2005, the album had already reached triple platinum status. The end was inevitable as the group prepared to officially part ways. Destiny’s Child was honored at the World Music Awards and were crowned as the biggest selling female group of all time. Actually, they are the third biggest selling female group of all time but we can let that slide. Rihanna, Amerie, Teairra Mari, Usher, Babyface and Patti LaBelle all paid tribute to the girls career. A Destiny’s Child greatest hits album was released and boom, that was the end.
Destiny Fulfilled is considered by many to be Destiny’s Child’s best album. Its themes of self love still resonates today. It was the perfect way to depart while at that top. Destiny’s Child of course has made several reunions here and there throughout the years but never a full album. Do you think the world is ready for a brand new Destiny’s Child studio album?
David SouloMind Ellis is an entertainment writer residing in Detroit, Michigan.