Destiny Fulfilled is Destiny's Child's fifth & final studio album which was released on November 16, 2004 by Columbia Records & Sony Urban Music.
- Lose My Breath 4:02
- Soldier (featuring T.I. & Lil Wayne) 5:25
- Cater 2 U 4:07
- T-Shirt 4:40
- Is She The Reason 4:47
- Girl 3:44
- Bad Habit 3:54
- If 4:15
- Free 4:51
- Through With Love 3:35
- Love 4:30
While recording their third studio album "Survivor" in late 2000, Beyoncé announced that Destiny's Child would eventually go on a hiatus that would allow each member to release a solo album, which they hoped would further increase interest in the group.
The idea of solo releases emanated from the group's manager, Beyoncé's father, Mathew Knowles. Kelly Rowland further explained in an interview that Destiny's Child has been present in the media for a long time and they wanted to "give the public eye a rest from DC for a minute".
During that same interview, she acknowledged that they would return to the studio in fall 2003 to start with the work on a new album.
Two members of the group, Beyoncé and Rowland each released one album, while Michelle Williams released two.
While each member achieved domestic success, Beyoncé's had been regarded as the most successful with the release of "Dangerously in Love" which enjoyed international commercial success and acclaim; this (along with their other ongoing projects) led to speculation over the disbandment of Destiny's Child.
Amidst rumors and speculations, Rowland announced in 2004 their return to the studio to record what would become their fourth and final album. The group claimed that the reunion was destined to happen, and that their affinity to each other kept them together.
After this album, Destiny's Child planned to part ways after their 14-year career to facilitate their solo careers. Beyoncé has noted that their destinies were already fulfilled; however, the group claimed that naming the album Destiny Fulfilled was not a coincidence.
Beyoncé has said that "the group felt it still had something to offer musically" with the album before adding: "We did this record for ourselves, not to sell a million the first week out... That doesn't mean as much to us as just the fact that three friends got back together to do another record. That was our destiny."
Rowland commented: "We were like, 'You know what, we're getting older and we want to end on a high note.' We want to give our fans a great final record".
Beyoncé, also commented regarding the finality of their career, said: "Who knows what will happen in three, five or 10 years? The main thing is that we maintain our friendship and that we do it because we want to – not because it's a good business move."
Production & RecordingEdit
The production for "Destiny Fulfilled" began in the summer of 2004 with Destiny's Child taking help from frequent collaborators including Rockwilder, Swizz Beatz and Rodney Jerkins. The group worked on the album within a period of three weeks.
Jerkins (who had worked with Beyoncé for her solo album "Dangerously in Love") concerned how he would manage the production, saying, "How is this going to work?' Cause Beyoncé, she blew up solo, so how's it going to work in a group together?".
He stated that once he got inside the studio, however, his skepticism vanished as he saw the group's "excitement being back in the studio together", calling the process "natural".
The members of the group stated that the first week of recording was spent solely on conversations about the happenings in their lives while being apart from each other as they hadn't spent quaility time for a long period; this further inspired them to record the conversations and use it as the main theme of the record.
Differing from "Survivor" in that previously Beyoncé had taken an active role in writing and producing, "Destiny Fulfilled" saw each member contributing inputs culled from personal experiences and individual opinions and points of view not dependent from the others."
In most cases, producers of the album would send them a CD containing a track that would be the group's basis in the songwriting process; without the producer's supervision of which part to sing, that formed a new direction of their style different from their previous records.
The traditional approach where each member sang one verse and chimed in the chorus was replaced; in some songs in Destiny Fulfilled, their vocals were alternated in every line of the lyrics, a technique similar to hip hop artists.
Destiny's Child took the role of executive producing alongside their manager, Mathew Knowles. Beyoncé, who vocally produced the songs, commented that it was important for her to make sure their voices were audible and identifiable.
Taking it as one of her goals, the group decided to focus on mid-tempo songs and on few dance numbers and ballads which they considered people cannot sing with.
Beyoncé elaborated: "We wanted to make sure that the songs would be something that we were proud of 10 years from now, 20 years from now. We wanted it to be something that people can really feel an emotion to. Up-tempo songs can do that, but they more make you wanna dance."
As Rowland was recently engaged in the time of the writing of the album, it further influenced her songwriting. She also cited that being apart from the group affected the album as well: "All of us have been in three different places ... so there's a lot to talk about, a lot that's gone on, personally. I think it's important to talk about that on this new record, to put what we've been going through separately into the new record."
The album opens with the up-tempo dance song "Lose My Breath", a track detailing a man full of empty promises to a woman. It is musically complete with military, marching-band drums and keyboard stabs and the backing track contains various sound effects.
"Soldier" (the second track with T.I. and Lil Wayne, the only featured artists on the album) contains elements from Southern hip hop and Crunk&B. Unsatisfied and unfulfilled with the lover from the opening song, the protagonists ask for a decent soldier, further singing about finding a gangster.
After finding the soldier, the third song, the R&B number "Cater 2 U", lyrically is about submissively serving the man considered as such.
Inspired by him, the protagonists sing about doing various things to make him happy musically accompanied by synthesizer as the song builds a crescendo.
The fourth song "T-Shirt" is complete with inorganic drum sounds, guitar and backwards loop as the trio sings about sleeping in bed with their man's T-shirt, "craving his presence, and inhailing his scent".
"Is She the Reason" is an R&B ballad which was noted to have a similar chord progression to materials by The Beatles, which lyrically speaks on being in competition with another woman for her mans love & attention. It contains a trumpet-laden sample from Melba Moore's song "I Don't Know No One Else to Turn To."
The next song, "Girl" was noted for its Motown influence and a theme talking about friendship.
"If" (complete with strings) lyrically talks about men who don't appreciate their female lovers until their relationship ends and they realize their mistakes.
"Free" was described as a "soul classic from 1975" with critics also noting elements of 1970s funk music, as the trio speaks on being "set free" after being in a relationship where her lover never tending to her desires like she does for him.
The midtempo number "Through with Love" was noted for having an "angry" nature as it talks about a break-up. It contains an undulating piano line as the members of the group sing with restrained vocals and later religious redemption with elements of gospel.
In "Love", "capital L kicks the daylights out of the forces of fear, doubt and disappointment", as the group "thank[s] God for love".
They further sing about how people "can't truly love another until [they] love God and then [themselves]" and further proclaim that they have found love and are "madly in it."
"Destiny Fulfilled" debuted at #19 on the Billboard 200, amassing sales of 61,000 copies prior to a whole tracking week. For the week ending December 4, 2004, it made it to #2 on the chart.
The album was certified triple platinum by the RIAA in January of 2005 for shipment of 3,000,000 copies.
"Destiny Fulfilled" received mixed reviews from music critics.
At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, it received an average score of 52 based on 17 reviews.
Dimitri Ehrlich of Vibe magazine complimented the production of the album, saying that it "showcases advanced production values" with "impressive" songwriting and vocal abilities and concluded that it "offers divine satisfaction".
A writer of Billboard felt that "Destiny Fulfilled" worked as "a testament to Beyoncé's evolving multiple talents".
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic praised Rowland's and Williams' abilities as vocalists and their contributions to the choruses, but felt that Beyoncé "steals every song on Destiny Fulfilled", further commending her for sounding "larger than life even when she's quiet"; however he concluded, "as a whole, the album winds up sounding too reserved and heavy-handed, which makes it a disappointment".
Andy Battaglia of The A.V. Club wrote in his review that "Destiny Fulfilled sounds distant and detached" further criticizing its mid-tempo ballads for sounding "uninterrupted at best, uninspired at worst".
Kelefa Sanneh of The New York Times commented that it is "a surprisingly perfunctory disc that never quite justifies its existence".
Alan Ranta of Tiny Mix Tapes doubted Beyoncé's lyrical sincerity, saying: "The success of this album depends once again on the complete suspension of die-hard fans' disbelief that Beyoncé 'Your Ad Here' Knowles could ever actually truly love another human being as much as she loves herself and her possessions."
Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian commented that the lead vocals of the songs were likely to be sung by each member equally, noting that it made the album a "democratic" one; however, she criticized them for squandering "the extent of their talents" on the album.
Tom Sinclair of Entertainment Weekly also noticed its "overall air of democracy at work" and noted that the album "often moves at a molasses-like pace, weighted down with a preponderance of exquisitely executed but ultimately dull ballads".
Jenny Eliscu of Rolling Stone magazine echoed his comments, saying: "In all but a couple of songs, the verses are divided into three sections, with Beyonce leading things off, followed by Rowland, then Williams".
She noted that after a couple of upbeat songs, "the album slumps into an endless string of overwrought R&B ballads where the only saving grace is ... these ladies can harmonize like nobody's business."
Eric Henderson of Slant Magazine has commented that the ballads of the album build into "the same sort of standoffish sexual supply-and-demand bartering that has marred their worst tracks".
Most of the critics questioned why Beyoncé had to return to Destiny's Child after achieving the most success among the members of the group.
Henderson lambasted Beyoncé to performing again with the group with the "full intention" of taking advantage to bolster her "divette" status to superstardom.