You acting kinda shady, Destiny’s Child.
Do you remember when Beyoncé was once part of a girl group? It seems like a distant memory, but Queen Bey was once just one-third of the pop trio that blazed across the Billboard charts with four #1 Hot 100 hits of its own. However, while the group was known for hits like « Say My Name » and « Survivor, » they were also known for scandalous in-fighting.
For example, did you know that three members exited the group under shady circumstances, and one of them was arrested several times? And what about the lawsuits waged against Beyoncé’s dad and group manager, Matthew Knowles? It’s fair to say that one of their hits should have been called « Drama, Drama, Drama. »
Of course, these days we’re in formation with Beyoncé. And while Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland each moved on to successful solo careers as well, the other members of the hit-making 90s R&B group didn’t fare so well. Let’s take a look at how these independent women acted more like soldiers in a war with each other as we explore the biggest scandals to rock Destiny’s Child.
Beyoncé’s parents went broke making Destiny’s Child happen
Queen Bey wasn’t always a queen. She has a rags to riches story. As her parents were struggling to build Beyoncé’s career, they had trouble keeping the lights on. According biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli’s book Becoming Beyoncé: The Untold Story, her parents Tina and Matthew Knowles (pictured above) filed for bankruptcy in 1995. This was the same year that they « were slapped with a $38,845 tax lien, » and Tina faced a pending lawsuit for « bouncing 11 business checks. » But, all those money woes didn’t add up to just one bankruptcy filing. Radar Online, who excerpted more from Taraborrelli’s book, also spilled the dirty little secret that the couple « filed for bankruptcy for the third time » in 1995. It’s safe to say that is a year all the Knowles want to forget.
Part of their money woes could have been related to Matthew and Tina’s split in 1995. It was the first time the couple separated until their eventual divorce in 2009. Radar Online wrote that Tina « moved into a tiny townhouse » with Beyoncé, her little sister Solange, and Kelly Rowland. The publication also noted that Tina’s money woes were so large that she struggled to pay for groceries and their electricity and water bills.
Maybe, the inspiration for « Bills, Bills, Bills » came from Bey’s childhood?
The label didn’t think Destiny’s Child would make it
No one thought that Beyoncé would go on to slay the pop charts when she started out with Destiny’s Child. But, it wasn’t long before she proved those albino alligators wrong. Destiny’s Child had 99 problems, but success wasn’t one. Apparently, neither was forgetting just how little their record label invested in their success. In 2016, Beyoncé told Elle of her Destiny’s Child days: « They underestimated us. » While she didn’t specify which record label « they » was, Destiny’s Child was signed to Columbia Records at the time.
Always one to keep her eyes on the prize, Beyoncé looked at her record label’s alleged neglect as an opportunity to hone her craft. « They allowed us to write our own songs and write our own video treatments, » the pop star told Elle. « It ended up being the best thing, because that’s when I became an artist and took control…. We had a vision for ourselves and nobody really cared to ask us what our vision was. So we created it on our own, and once it was successful, I realized that we had the power to create whatever vision we wanted for ourselves. »
It’s no wonder that the « Run The World (Girls), » singer can say that she’s « smart enough to make these millions. » She’s been doing it since 1997, according to MTV, which is when Columbia Records finally signed the group — and after all, « the best revenge is your paper, » right?
Kandi Burruss wrote Destiny’s Child’s first number one hit
Beyoncé might be credited for writing the empowering lyrics to Destiny’s Child sophomore album The Writings on the Wall, but according to VICE, DC’s hit songs « Bug a Boo, » « So Good, » and « Bills Bills Bills » were written by Kandi Burruss (above). Burruss, of The Real Housewives of Atlanta fame, was part of the R&B quartet Xscape. She also wrote hit songs for TLC, Usher, and Pink. Basically, the woman knew how to write a 90s hit.
So, just how much did Bey contribute to the lyrics on the group’s hit 1999 album? According to Burruss, it likely wasn’t much. Speaking with VICE, Burruss said, « I would kind of have an idea of what the melody should be; the concept and partial lyrics. … I would already have the hook together and the melody of what the verse should be. » If you’re wondering what Beyoncé did write, Burruss went on to say, « I left a little open so that they could have input as well. » So, maybe Bey added the « bills, bills, bills » lyrics?
After Beyoncé boasted about her songwriting skills for Vanity Fair’s November 2005 issue, claiming she had « written — what? — seven, eight Number 1 songs with Destiny’s Child, in a row, » Fox News slammed the artist for taking credit for writing songs attributed « to a list of songwriters. » Granted, that was never a secret, and is a standard industry practice, however Beyoncé’s characterization of her involvement could be seen as a bit shady.
Two former Destiny’s Child members sued Mathew Knowles
Matthew Knowles had money woes in 1995 and legal problems in 2002 with the original band members LeToya Luckett (above) and LaTavia Roberson. According to Rolling Stone, the original Destiny’s Child members slapped Knowles with a lawsuit, claiming he « attempted to gain legal guardianship of Luckett and Roberson, refused to share financial information with them and their parents. » They also claimed that they didn’t even know that they had been sacked from the group until they heard « Say My Name. » New group members Farrah Franklin and Michelle Williams replaced their vocals on the track without their knowledge. Ouch! What a painful way to find out that you no longer have a job, right?
But, it wasn’t only Knowles who was charged with breaching Luckett and Roberson’s contract. Original members, Beyoncé, and Kelly Rowland were also sued along with their label at the time, Sony Music. The two singers’ lawsuit charged them « breach of contract, defamation, libel and fraud. » Eventually, both sides kissed and made up — Okay, we don’t actually know what went down. Rolling Stone stated that the lawsuit was settled in June 2002, but the terms « were not disclosed. »
Is the song Survivor really a shade anthem?
How did Beyoncé feel about LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson leaving Destiny’s Child? With new band mates, Destiny’s Child released « Survivor, » a hit song that appeared on the Charlie’s Angels soundtrack. Fans speculated that the lyrics were a scandalous shade toss at Luckett and Roberson. « Thought that I’d be helpless without you / But I’m smarter/ You thought that I’d be stressed without you / But I’m chillin’/ You thought I wouldn’t sell without you /Sold 9 million. » According to Billboard, the ex-Destiny’s Child members thought the same thing, calling the lyrics « derisive comments. » Once again, they slapped Destiny’s Child with a lawsuit.
Luckett and Roberson filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the lyrics were a breach of their previous settlement. According to Billboard, Destiny’s Child’s lawyer, Tom Fulkerson, shot back with his own cutthroat words. « It’s unfortunate that the plaintiffs have nothing better to do with their time than to dream up new lawsuits. » Was he slamming their struggling solo careers?
In the end, the remaining members of Destiny’s Child had the last laugh. The song went on to win a Grammy and became a national anthem for independent women.
Farrah Franklin’s scandalous exit led to a sad downward spiral
It wasn’t long until another member bit the dust amid a similar scandal. Farrah Franklin (second from left) and Michelle Williams (far left) replaced LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson. But, six months later, a statement was released that Farrah would no longer be with the group. MTV broke the news to fans that their favorite quartet would become a trio. « The bottom line is that Farrah didn’t show up for work, » Matthew Knowles said to MTV, adding, « Beyoncé and Kelly have never missed a show, ever. »
Franklin tried her hand at a solo career, but she was sacked from not just one, but two record labels, according to the Daily Beast. And, in case you forgot about her reality TV career, the same outlet also reminded us that in 2016 Franklin tried her hand at finding love on Patti Stranger’s Millionaire Matchmaker. After showing up four hours late for her date, that was the end of her reality TV career. Her mugshots didn’t help either. She was arrested for disorderly conduct in 2011 and 2014, and again in 2016 — when she was popped for « public intoxication and possession of a small amount of weed » after arguing with a man at 3 am, according to TMZ. Franklin was charged with public intoxication and marijuana possession. Sadly, she wasn’t able to pay her $250 bail.
Destiny’s Child’s split was a shocker
Fans received a surprise goodbye from Destiny’s Child in 2004. People reported that Kelly Rowland broke the news to 16,000 fans during a concert in Barcelona, Spain. Imagine going to see your favorite pop group only to hear them say that the concert will be one of their last? That’s the pain DC fans felt. Slashing any hope that remained, MTV News released the band’s breakup statement. « After a lot of discussion and some deep soul searching, we realized that our current tour has given us the opportunity to leave Destiny’s Child on a high note. No matter what happens we will always love each other as friends and sisters and will always support each other as artists. »
Today, their split is just as shocking as it was in 2004. According to MTV News, they were one of « the top-selling female pop groups in history. » The group stayed together after Williams released her EP of gospel songs in 2002. Even when Beyoncé got us in formation with her debut album, Dangerously in Love in 2003, the group still survived. In the end, MTV News reported that fans finally bid farewell at Destiny’s Child’s last concert at the GM Place in Vancouver, Canada.
In July 2019 — and despite their brief, albeit iconic 2018 Coachella reunion — Rowland casually destroyed fans’ dreams about a Destiny’s Child reunion, telling Us Weekly, « It hasn’t been our radar. »
Michelle Williams struggled with depression
At the height of Destiny’s Child’s fame, another member was facing her own demons. In 2017 Michelle Williams revealed on The Talk (via SPIN) that she battles depression. « When I disclosed it to our manager at the time, bless his heart, he was like, ‘Y’all just signed a multi-million dollar deal and you’re about to go on tour. What do you have to be depressed about?' » she said, adding, « So I was like, ‘Oh, maybe I’m just tired.' »
For two decades, Williams struggled, and at her lowest point, she had suicidal thoughts before she understood enough to seek help. « I think at the age of 25, had I had a name to what I was feeling at the time, I would have disclosed that ‘I’ve been suffering from depression, » the R&B singer continued (via GMA).
The good news is Williams eventually shared a happy ending on Instagram in July 2018, writing, in part, that she « sought help from a great team of healthcare professionals. » She added, « Today I proudly, happily and healthily stand here as someone who will continue to always lead by example as I tirelessly advocate for the betterment of those in need. »
Matthew Knowles is writing a tell all book about Destiny’s Child
Leave it to Matthew Knowles to continue making a profit off of Destiny’s Child more than a decade after they split. He spoke with Forbes about his next move in 2019. « We’re working on a Destiny’s Child play… It’s from my perspective, » Knowles told the publication. We wonder if the DC play will have as much scandal as the Dreamgirls musical?
« My next book is Destiny’s Child: The Untold Story, » Knowles elaborated to Forbes about his other project in the works for 2019. « People really don’t know the true story of how it all unfolded. » Knowles hinted at finally unravelling all of the band’s secrets and setting the record straight. But, if you think that Destiny’s Child will have anything to do with it, think again. According to Knowles it’s all about him and his point of view. « I’m now telling my story, » he said.
We wonder how Beyoncé feels about this untold story. According to the Daily Mail, she cut professional ties with Knowles in 2011. The two did reunite during the « On the Run II » tour in 2018, but something tells us this book may be on the receiving end of some signature Queen Bey shade.