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10 Must-Hear New Albums In July 2022: Beyoncé, J-Hope & More
Here are the can't-miss releases and massive new albums dropping this month from Burna Boy, Lizzo, Cuco, $uicideboy$, ODESZA, Maggie Rogers, and many others.
What a dizzying year it's been for music — and summer just began.
Kendrick Lamar took inventory of his deepest vulnerabilities on Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers. BTS crystallized their entire first epoch with Proof — and then took a hiatus immediately after. Rosalía twisted disparate genres to her will on Motomami. Harry Styles invited us into Harry's House, his glittering abode. Drake got sparse on the dance floor with Honestly, Nevermind. And that's to say nothing of releases by Post Malone, Mitski, Angel Olsen, Charli XCX, and so many more.
As this already-stacked year reaches its midpoint — and festivals and tours fire up worldwide — we still have so much to look forward to in July 2022. True to the MO of this year so far, it'll probably be more than we can all handle.
That said, GRAMMY.com is here to home in on 10 albums that will have the world's ears in no time — and are likely to continue resonating as summer gives way to fall, winter, and the dawn of 2023.
Check below for the 10 must-hear albums dropping this month, including huge releases from Beyoncé, Burna Boy, J-Hope, Lizzo, ODESZA, and many more. — Morgan Enos
Burna Boy — Love, Damini
Release Date: Friday, July 8
On his birthday, GRAMMY-winning, international Afrobeats star Burna Boy will be the one giving a gift: his sixth album, Love, Damini. The record is "a personal body of work," the artist tweeted. "It's about the ups and downs, the growth, the L's and W's. I'm excited to share this journey and roll out with you all." Burna Boy has shared two tracks from Love, Damini – which will be released through his own Spaceship Records, in conjunction with Atlantic and Warner Music Group – including the exciting, braggadocious "Kilometre" and the Chopstix-produced "Last Last," the latter of which samples Toni Braxton's GRAMMY-winning "He Wasn't Man Enough." Though thematically varied, Love, Damini is expected to be an ecstatic offering from Nigeria's fastest-rising star. —Jessica Lipsky
Read More: Everything We Know About Burna Boy's New Album Love, Damini
Doris Anahi — Aprendiendo por las Malas
Release Date: Friday, July 15
All those mariachi and bolero records that Doris Anahí grew up listening to as a kid left an imprint on her aesthetic DNA. A devastating neo-balada that sublimates romantic sadness into solemn ritual, "It Wasn't You" teases the singer's forthcoming debut EP, Aprendiendo por las Malas. With its self-assured, Afro-Caribbean groove, orchestral synth patches, and a hint of R&B, the tune delivers a perfect encapsulation of what being Latin American and driving through the streets of Los Angeles actually feels — and sounds — like. The song is accompanied by an elegant video that underscores Doris Anahí's concept of this EP: a love letter to her hometown. Doris is also the subject of a new Disney Original documentary, MIJA, directed by four-time Emmy nominee Isabel Castro; the film focuses on her and Jacks Haupt, both daughters of undocumented immigrants, and their respective musical careers. Doris has only released a handful of songs so far, but her immense talent shines through already. — Ernesto Lechner
Read More: 6 LGBTQIA+ Latinx Artists You Need To Know: María Becerra, Blue Rojo & More
J-Hope — Jack In The Box
Release Date: Friday, July 15
After BTS announced their hiatus last month, beloved member J-Hope followed the shocking news with his own major announcement: the release of his new solo album, Jack In The Box, out July 15. His first album single, "More," released Friday, marks the first release from any BTS member as they embark on "BTS' Chapter 2." Jack In The Box is said to represent J-Hope's own musical personality and vision, while also showing his aspiration to break the mold and grow further. Having learned music through dance, the performer has always been original and bright, and this new album will surely showcase how his sound has matured over the years.
As a group, BTS have already proven themselves as global pop icons, and now, J-Hope will show the world his own flavor as a solo artist. He's already making history as the first South Korean artist to headline a main stage at a major U.S. music festival via his highly anticipated debut at Lollapalooza 2022 later this month. With so many accomplishments already under his belt, J-Hope will surely release one of the can't-miss albums of 2022 via Jack In The Box. — Ashlee Mitchell
Read More: 5 Takeaways From BTS' New Album Proof
Lizzo — Special
Release Date: Friday, July 15
The world needs a collective pick-me-up these days, and Lizzo has proven time and time again to be the musician to bring big smiles and bright days —and then some. The purveyor of positivity is releasing her fourth studio album and second major-label LP, Special, on July 15. The full project is preceded by two singles: The Top 10 Billboard hit and TikTok mainstay "About Damn Time" as well as "Grrrls," which samples and interpolates "Girls" by the Beastie Boys. As with Lizzo's previous projects, there will be no shortage of uplifting tracks, and, of course, she'll be coming with a fresh set of certifired Lizzobangers. Ricky Reed, Max Martin and Mark Ronson are just a few of the confirmed producers providing their magic on the album. Additionally, the singer, rapper and flautist touts Special as a "love album," which took its form as a result of a myriad of experiences. "I had a lot happen interpersonally. A lot has happened globally, and I think I needed to process that," she told SiriusXM's "The Heat" in April. — J'na Jefferson
Read More: Everything We Know About Lizzo's New Album Special
Cuco — Fantasy Gateway
Release Date: Friday, July 22
At only 23, Cuco has established himself as one of the most brilliant singer/songwriters in contemporary Latin music. The son of Mexican immigrants, he has forged a cinematic sonic universe that draws from hazy bedroom pop and psychedelia, but is also informed by the spectral tinge of the classic baladas that made generations of Latines sigh with unresolved longing. After recording a swanky, electro-pop cover of the standard "Piel Canela" in 2020 and collaborating with boy pablo on this year's epic "La Novela," Cuco is releasing his second album, Fantasy Gateway. Recorded in Mexico City, his father's hometown, the collection includes the lovely "Fin Del Mundo" with fellow dream popster Bratty, the languid "Time Machine," and a much-anticipated collaboration with Kacey Musgraves and Adriel Favela. Cuco's intriguing contrast between his DIY ethos and the lush sophistication of his songwriting hints at the emergence of an artist ready to create a transcendent body of work. — E.L.
Watch: Cuco On Para Mi, Musical Tastes, MC Magic & Lil Rob | Up Close & Personal
ODESZA — The Last Goodbye
Release Date: Friday, July 22
For ODESZA, goodbye means new beginnings. Five years after releasing their GRAMMY-nominated album, A Moment Apart, the Seattle-based electronic duo is staging a comeback in 2022 with their fourth studio LP, The Last Goodbye. The album, ODESZA said in a statement, is inspired by their friends and family's impact on them: "We found comfort in the fact that those who we love stay with us, that they become intrinsically part of us, in a way." On Last Goodbye, ODESZA take a deeper exploration of 4/4 rhythms, threading a collection of driving beats coated in soul-piercing vocals and rousing instrumentation that evokes at once nostalgia, melancholy and euphoria.
The album is an aching desire to connect, to love, and to be loved. Singles like "Love Letter," featuring the Knocks, and the Bettye-LaVette-sampling title track hold an iron grip on emotions with lyrics like "You can't break my heart 'cause I was never in love." Elsewhere, "Better Now," with MARO, offers a more optimistic approach to life: "So what if I fall? / Better that I tried instead of nothing at all." ODESZA's The Last Goodbye is vast and visceral, intimate yet intense — exactly the kind of album you'll want soundtracking these hot summer nights. — Krystal Rodriguez
Watch: ODESZA Focused on Layers, Cinematic Influence For A Moment Apart
Beyoncé — Renaissance
Release Date: Friday, July 29
Beyoncé has dominated the last two years: She unveiled her visual masterpiece, Black Is King, in 2020, she celebrated a history-making GRAMMYs night in 2021, and she garnered her first Oscar nomination in February. Now, Queen Bey is officially returning to the solo spotlight after a six-year gap since her last album, Lemonade (2016). In mid-June, and after much speculation, Beyoncé announced she'd be releasing her seventh studio album, Renaissance, on Friday, July 29. The 16-song Renaissance is being helmed as "Act I" of a rumored double album.
Read More: Everything We Know About Beyoncé's New Album Renaissance
Information about the project remains scarce, though a British Vogue cover interview teasing the sound and style of Renaissance leads many to believe that Bey's forthcoming release will feature nods to disco, house and dance music. Days after her initial announcement, Beyoncé released the project's motivating lead single, "Break My Soul," which samples New Orleans bounce icon Big Freedia and interpolates infectious, '90s-flavored synths. The album's rollout is a vastly different approach for Beyoncé, who, with the thin-air release of her self-titled album in 2013, has been credited for popularizing the surprise album drop. —J.J.
Read More: Songbook: The Complete Guide To The Albums, Visuals & Performances That Made Beyoncé A Cultural Force
King Princess — Hold On Baby
Release Date: Friday, July 29
Always one to be radically transparent about the events and relationships in her life, King Princess is looking inward on her new album, Hold On Baby. Musically, the album combines some of the anthemic riffs found on her previous work, including her 2019 debut album, Cheap Queen, with more elaborate production from accomplished collaborators like Mark Ronson and the National's Aaron and Bryce Dessner. Tracks like the pulsing "For My Friends" and the deeply emotional "Little Bother," a collaboration with Fousheé, showcase a more robust sound from King Princess and find her turning the keen insights of her writing inwards toward her own faults, joys and mindsets. Her goal for the album, she explained in a statement, is to "give you all some strength in accepting ourselves; as chaotic as we can be." With such a worthy goal and an even greater sonic ambition, Hold On Baby will be a crowning moment for King Princess. — Gabriel Aikins
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Maggie Rogers — Surrender
Release Date: Friday, July 29
After her 2019 debut album Heard It In A Past Life earned her critical acclaim and a Best New Artist nomination at the 2020 GRAMMYs, Maggie Rogers quickly built anticipation for what she would do next. After a couple of relatively quiet years writing on the East Coast, she reemerged in April with the announcement of her sophomore album, Surrender. Counting 12 tracks, it's a welcome return for one of the most dynamic songwriters working today.
The album's first single, "That's Where I Am," proves Rogers is even more thoughtful than ever: Over a soaring collection of synths and pulsing percussion, she sings of finding acceptance of life's many twists and turns, all while expanding upon the sound of Past Life. Recent track "Want Want" teases an even more experimental Rogers as the song brings some downright grimy guitar riffs and delivers a heavier mix than most listeners have heard from her. With so much energy in just two early tracks, Surrender is shaping up to be a must-listen summer album. — G.A.
Watch: Maggie Rogers On Her Rapid Rise To Fame, Singing With Sheryl Crow & Songwriting Catharsis
$uicideboy$ — Sing Me A Lullaby My Sweet Temptation
Release Date: Friday, July 29
If anybody doubts the unbelievable adaptability and malleability of rap today, just look at who's in $uicideboy$' orbit. In years past, they've collaborated with everyone from Travis Barker to members of Korn. On their upcoming Grey Day Tour, they'll be supported by bleeding-edge acts ranging from hardcore heroes Knocked Loose to genre-dismantling crushers Code Orange to SoundCloud-adjacent rapper Ski Mask the Slump God.
What is the New Orleans duo stumping for on the Grey Day Tour? That'd be Sing Me a Lullaby My Sweet Temptation, their new album out July 29 on G*59 RECORDS.
Read More: 9 Revolutionary Rap Albums To Know: From Kendrick Lamar, Black Star, EarthGang & More
Flanked by lead single "Escape From BABYLON" — a scorching analysis of the pit of vipers that dating can be, especially as wild men like this — Sing Me a Lullaby My Sweet Temptation is sure to be yet another ruthless excoriation of their inner selves. (Much like acclaimed predecessors, Long Term Effects of Suffering  and I Want to Die in New Orleans .)
Strap in for another sonic brawl from these uncommonly candid rap survivors, which will undoubtedly elevate them even further in the realm of unflinching music — genre and its attendant limitations be damned. — M.E.
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Photo: Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images
8 Artists Who Were Inspired By Their Teachers: Rihanna, Adele, Jay-Z & More
In honor of Music In Our Schools Month this March, take a look at how teachers made a heartwarming impact on superstars like Katy Perry and John Legend.
Before Rihanna, Billy Joel and Jay-Z became some of the biggest names in music, they were students just like the rest of us. Without some particularly special teachers, they might not be the superstars they are today, and they all remember who first encouraged them.
Within the past few years, Rihanna made a special trip to a cricket match in England to reunite with her old P.E. teacher from Barbados, who she calls her "MVP"; Joel traveled back to his New York hometown to honor the teacher who said he should be a professional musician; and Jay-Z told David Letterman that his sixth grade English teacher made him fall in love with words.
In honor of Music In Our Schools Month — which raises awareness for supporting and cultivating worthwhile music programs in K-12 — GRAMMY.com highlights eight artists who have praised their teachers for making a lifelong impact.
After watching Joel tackle Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23, his high school music appreciation teacher Chuck Arnold suggested that he consider music as a career.
"He said to me, you should be a professional musician," Joel recalled of his Hicksville High School mentor during a 1996 event at C.W. Post College. "Now, for a teacher to say that, it's like condemning someone to a life of poverty, drug taking, alcoholism and failure.
"A teacher is telling me this," he added seriously. "It had a huge influence on me."
In 2022, Joel was on hand to congratulate Arnold during the dedication of the Charles "Chuck" Arnold Theatre at the school. "This is for the coolest teacher there ever was," he praised.
.@CBSSunday surprised Lizzo with her high school band director, who encouraged her to apply herself when she was learning to play the flute — and her reaction was priceless: “Wow, I did it, didn't I?” https://t.co/dwffNvYzpb pic.twitter.com/xp5kDK5pWB— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 6, 2019
In 2019, CBS Sunday arranged a surprise visit with the singer and Manny Gonzales, the former band director at her alma mater, Elsik High School in Houston. She told the network that Gonzales helped her get a scholarship to study classical flute at University of Houston.
"You told my ass!" Lizzo exclaimed as she squeezed him. "You were like, 'Get it together, girl, 'cause you are special. Apply yourself!' Those moments meant so much to me."
The Atlanta DJ/producer and king of crunk has done more than take parties to the next level — he has invested in the educational future of children in Africa by building two schools in Ghana with the non-profit organization Pencils of Promise. He credits a mentor at Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta for sparking his brain when he was a teenager.
"It was my music teacher [who inspired me to dream bigger]," he said in a 2019 interview with Yahoo! "I wanted to play drums, and if I didn't play drums, I wouldn't make music, and drums are the foundation for what I do."
Roddy Estwick was Rihanna's P.E. teacher in Barbados and is now the assistant coach of the West Indies cricket team. The two had an emotional reunion at the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England.
"He made a lasting impact on my life and he really offered great advice to me and many others when we were at school at Combermere," she told Barbados Today amid their reunion. "I just wanted to let everyone know what he meant to me in my development and what he did for us back at school in Barbados." Essence reported that Rihanna described him as, "My mentor, my champ, my MVP" on her Instagram stories.
The Ohio native credits his English teacher Mrs. Bodey at North High School in Springfield for setting him on the path that culminated in his music career.
"Until her class, I hadn't believed in my ability as a writer," Legend shared in a 2017 op-ed for Huffington Post. "She recognized my potential and showed me that I could write with creativity, with clarity, with passion."
He continued, "Mrs. Bodey, along with a few other teachers, helped me gain confidence in my skills and pushed me to challenge myself. They pushed me to graduate second in my class. They pushed me to deliver the speech at our graduation. They pushed me to earn a scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania, to hone my writing as an English Major and, ultimately, toward a successful career as a songwriter."
The singer was reunited with the most pivotal teacher in her life during her "An Audience with Adele" concert special in 2021. While the singer took questions from the crowd, actress Emma Thompson asked Adele if she had a supporter or protector in the past.
"I had a teacher at [south London high school] Chestnut Grove, who taught me English. That was Miss McDonald," Adele said. "She got me really into English literature. Like, I've always been obsessed with English and obviously now I write lyrics… She really made us care, and we knew that she cared about us."
Miss McDonald then surprised Adele on stage, and the singer was brought to tears — a touching highlight of the special. She even told her former teacher that she still has the books from her class!
While Perry has admitted that she wishes she had a better overall education, her former music school teacher gave her confidence to pursue singing seriously.
"I'm kind of bummed at this stage that I didn't have a great education because I could really use that these days," she said in a 2014 interview with Yahoo! "There was a teacher named Agatha Danoff who was my vocal teacher and music teacher at the Music Academy of the West. It was very fancy and I didn't come from any money… and she always used to give me a break on my lessons. I owe her a lot of credit and I appreciate that she looked out for me when I didn't have enough money to pay."
Picture a young Shawn Carter — now better known as Jay-Z — with his head stuck in a dictionary.
"I had a sixth grade teacher, her name was Ms. Lowden and I just loved the class so much," Jay-Z said during his appearance on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman in 2018.
He later realized how much Renee Rosenblum-Lowden, who taught him at Intermediate School 318 in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, had an influence on his passion for language. "Like, reading the dictionary and just my love of words," he explained. "I just connected with her."
"I knew he was extremely bright, but he was quiet," Rosenblum-Lowden told Brut in 2019, sharing that he scored at the 12th-grade level on a sixth-grade reading test.
"He's been very kind," she added. "Every famous person has a teacher who probably influenced them, and I wish they would all shout out the way Jay-Z did."
Meet Me @ The Altar Reveal The 4 "Badass" Female Artists Who Inspired Their Debut Album, 'Past // Present // Future'
Photos (L-R, clockwise): Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation, Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella, Adam Bow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images, Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella, Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Kevin Winter/Getty Images for ACM, Terry Wyatt/Getty Images
Listen To GRAMMY.com's Women's History Month 2023 Playlist: Swim In The Divine Feminine With These 40 Songs By Rihanna, SZA, Miley Cyrus, BLACKPINK & More
Who run the world? Harness positive energy during Women's History Month with this immersive playlist honoring Beyoncé, Rina Sawayama, Kim Petras, and more female musicians.
In the words of recent GRAMMY winner Lizzo, it's bad b— o'clock. To kick off Women's History Month, GRAMMY.com is celebrating with an extensive playlist spotlighting women's divine musical artistry. Perpetually shaping, reinvigorating, and expanding genres, women's creative passion drives the music industry forward.
This March, get ready to unlock self-love with Miley Cyrus' candid "Flowers," or hit the dancefloor with the rapturous Beyoncé's "I'm That Girl." Whether you're searching for the charisma of Doja Cat's "Woman" or confidence of Rihanna's "B— Better Have My Money," this playlist stuns with diverse songs honoring women's fearlessness and innovation.
Women dominate the music charts throughout the year, but this month, dive into their glorious energy by pressing play on our curated Women's History Month playlist, featuring everyone from Dua Lipa to Missy Elliott to Madonna to Kali Uchis.
Listen below on Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora.
Photo: Scott Gries/ImageDirect
GRAMMY Rewind: Destiny’s Child Celebrates Their First Win For “Say My Name” At The 2001 GRAMMYs
Destiny’s Child were beaming with excitement as they took the stage for their Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals win at the 2001 GRAMMYs.
Twenty-five years after the release of their debut album, Destiny's Child prevails as one of the most iconic and prolific girl groups in history, paving the way for the future of manufactured girl group stardom. Today, Destiny's Child remains the most nominated girl group in GRAMMY history, with 14 GRAMMY nominations.
In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, GRAMMY.com turns back the clock to 2001, when Destiny's Child took home their first golden gramophone for "Say My Name" in the Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals category. Destiny's Child also won a GRAMMY that same night for Best R&B Song.
The three women were bursting with joy as they approached the stage. "Oh gosh, I can't believe we're winning a GRAMMY, ladies," Beyoncé cheered before praising God, their management team, Columbia Records, and their fanbase alongside groupmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams.
Before exiting the stage, they took a moment to show appreciation for each other. "Thank you, Michelle, for blessing Destiny's Child," Beyoncé said; "Say My Name" was Williams' first involvement with the group after the departure of Le Toya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson.
Press play on the video above to watch Destiny's Child's entire acceptance speech for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals at the 2001 GRAMMYs, and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com for more episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.
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Destiny's Child's Debut Album At 25: How A Neo-Soul Album From Teens Spawned R&B Legends
Released in February 1998, the self-titled debut record from Destiny's Child heralded the beginning of an R&B supergroup. Yet its "grown and sexy" attitude and neo-soul arrangements weren't an initial hit.
In 1998, the landscape for R&B music was stacked with releases: Lauryn Hill, Brandy, Whitney Houston, Faith Evans, Deborah Cox, Maxwell and Dru Hill, among others, all dropped albums during those 12 fabled months. It was also the year that a four-piece girl group from Houston, Texas by the name of Destiny’s Child released their self-titled debut album.
The 13-track album arrived on Feb. 17 and largely featured earthy, quiet storm grooves and bluesy sensibilities. Destiny's Child bore a markedly different style than their later works, and its reception was a far cry from the group's subsequent blockbusters. Yet audiences were intrigued, and the debut peaked at No. 67 on the Billboard 200 and No. 14 on its concurrent Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, pushing enough units to warrant a RIAA platinum certification. Destiny's Child took home three trophies at 1998's Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards, including Best R&B/Soul Album Of The Year.
By the time Destiny’s Child were climbing the charts, they had already traversed quite a lengthy road to stardom. Initially formed in 1990 as Girls Tyme — a six-member group that included Beyoncé Knowles, LaTavia Roberson and Kelly Rowland, organized by initial manager Andretta Tillman — the pre-teen artists performed on "Star Search" in 1992 and lost. Following their defeat, Beyoncé’s father Mathew Knowles came on board as Tilman’s co-manager, dismissing the other three girls and bringing in LeToya Luckett to form a refreshed quartet.
A few years later, they signed a production deal with Darryl Simmons’ Silent Partner imprint (Simmons was then known working with Babyface and LA Reid on hits for Boyz II Men, Toni Braxton and Tevin Campbell). Simmons connected Girls Tyme with Sylvia Rhone at Elektra Records, who dropped the Darryl's company and Girls Tyme several months later. "Sylvia dropped Darryl’s company because he was too busy writing hit songs for everyone in the industry. He didn't have the time to give to his own artists," Knowles recalls, adding that Rhone was already working with En Vogue and "didn’t really need another girl group."
Destiny's Child circa 1996, Columbia Records audition day | Courtesy of LaTavia Roberson
In 1996, the girls eventually secured a deal with Columbia Records and a complementary deal with D’Wayne Wiggins's own production company. Taking the girls — then 14 to 15 years old — under his wing, Destiny’s Child and their chaperones spent several months in a rented home in Oakland, California, working on an album deemed by Beyoncé as "a rebirth of music from the '70s."
"D’Wayne’s ear was very influential on the sound of the album," original member LaTavia Roberson remembers. By this point in his career, Wiggins had just come off making Tony! Toni! Toné!’s final albums Sons Of Soul and House of Music, which are now considered foundational to the development of neo-soul. Together, Wiggins and Destiny's Child created contemporary Black music that unabashedly embraced its past.
"Live instrumentation was a big part of the thought process [of] going back to a kind of urbane sound that was similar to neo-soul," Knowles explains. Tracks like "Second Nature" and "Bridges" featured potent use of the fender rhodes, bass, trumpet and saxophone.
While Wiggins was undoubtedly the album’s chief creative anchor, Destiny's Child also featured notable contributions from some of the era's key hitmakers; Tim & Bob, Jermaine Dupri, Wyclef Jean, Vincent Herbert, Mark Morales and Cory Rooney. "Mathew always just made us listen to the tracks, emphasizing it shouldn’t matter if the producer has a name. What was most important is that we felt the music," Roberson recalls.
As finishing touches were being put on the album, Columbia Records began strategizing ways to build buzz around their new signees. It just so happened that they were curating the soundtrack for the upcoming film Men In Black. Taking advantage of the opportunity to promote their own act, the soundtrack would house the rootsy and pensive ballad "Killing Time" — Destiny's Child's first official release.
The group also scored slots opening for SWV and the O’Jays, and were guest vocalists on "Can’t Stop," a regional hit by Houston rapper Lil’ O. All this preliminary visibility would ultimately set the scene for the arrival of their debut single "No, No, No'' in October 1997. The original version, branded as "No, No, No Pt 1," was a slow jam produced by Vincent Herbert and Rob Fusari; Wyclef Jean later remixed the single, which became "No, No, No Pt 2." The two versions were strategically given a dual release, allowing the song to compete on the charts as one track.
The song peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the ninth best-selling song of 1998. Promos prioritized "Pt. 2," making it easy to assume that the remix drove the album's success. However, "the remix didn’t save the day," Knowles notes. "Different markets actually played the ballad more than the up-tempo version. In America, it was almost 50/50 — especially across the East Coast and Midwest."
The Jermaine Dupri-helmed "With Me Pt 1," an answer to Usher's "You Make Me Wanna," was released as the album’s second single. Despite reaching the Top 20 in Canada and Britain, it struggled to match the success of "No, No, No" in the States. Like it's predecessor, two versions of the song were also recorded; "With Me Pt 2" featured Master P, who at the time was making historic strides with his independent label No Limit Records.
"With Me Pt 1"’ would be the final single released from the album, and the girls were tasked with going back into the studio to record what would become The Writing’s On The Wall. Interviews done around this time revealed that there were intentions for "Illusion" — a jazz-rap reworking of "Just An Illusion," a 1982 hit by British R&B trio Imagination, featuring Jean and Fugees alum Pras — to be issued as Destiny's Child's third single. A clear attempt to rehash the formula used with "No, No, No," Columbia even commissioned a club remix produced by house music royalty Maurice Joshua with new vocals.
"It’s not that we didn't love 'Illusion,' but we were minors and it’s the executives who make the decisions," Roberson says, who had a rare vocal lead on the track. "The label wanted us to move on and create more age-appropriate music."
The ballad-heavy and traditional R&B style present on Destiny's Child was considered adult-oriented, its messaging and audience more aligned with what Mary J. Blige was doing on 1997's Share My World and 1999's Mary. In a 2006 interview with the Guardian, Beyoncé said the album was "way too mature for us. It was a neo-soul record and we were 15 years old." Roberson echoed, "A lot of people thought we were older than we were because of how sophisticated the album sounded."
While Destiny’s Child had unintentionally aged themselves out of the market, their peers NSYNC, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera were nearing full omnipresence as leaders of the teen pop revival. At the same time, mainstream R&B was adopting the futuristic sound and aesthetic spearheaded by Missy Elliott and Timbaland’s pioneering work with Aaliyah. This direction greatly shaped the output of competing girl groups TLC, 702 and Blaque, and ultimately kept Destiny's Child from being as pop-facing or radio friendly as Columbia had intended.
"We wanted to brand these girls as fresh hot teenagers. Though the album had some phenomenal songs, it didn’t fit into the direction we were heading into," Knowles says.
Despite its middling commercial success, the debut album generally holds up well: The Mary Jane Girls-esque "Show Me The Way," the sensuous "Birthday," and the funky b-side "You’re The Only One" all deserve contemporary re-examination. Contrasting these hidden gems is a needless cover of the Commodores’ "Sail On," which fails to leave an impression despite some well-crafted vocal arrangements. Likewise, "My Time Has Come", dedicated to their first manager, the late Andretta Tillman, had its heart in the right place but lacked the conviction and soul needed to justify its inclusion.
Nonetheless, the album remains an artifact of the elements central to Destiny's Child's musical persona. The syncopated, rapid vocal style that Beyoncé innovated on "No, No, No Pt 2," and lyrical themes of romantic equity, mutual respect, self-confidence and autonomy, would govern the band's career-defining hits and influence many of their contemporaries. Destiny's Child’s prematurely "grown and sexy" vibe can be seen as the prototype for their final album, 2004 Destiny Fulfilled .
"The beauty of creativity is that there has to be a starting point. The hope is that you grow from that starting point. Destiny's Child’s first album was a great example of that," Mathew imparts.
Twenty-five years ago, it would’ve been tempting to write off Destiny’s Child as no more than one-hit wonders who were, according to John Bush at AllMusic, "indistinguishable from all the other female groups out there." Few would have predicted that in just two years, Destiny's Child would become one of the definitive acts of the 2000s and, eventually, one of the most important girl groups of all time.
Achieving a level of international and cross-cultural appeal as Black women that eluded their competitors and some of their forebears, Destiny's Child is demonstrative of the axiom that it’s not about how you start, but how you finish.
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