Mathew Knowles — Beyonce’s dad and Destiny’s Child’s manager — says he was extremely protective of the group when they worked with R. Kelly for a song that never made it onto their debut album.
In a new interview with Metro.co.uk, Knowles says that at the time, Destiny’s Child members Beyonce, Kelly Rowland, LaTavia Roberson and LeToya Luckett were teenagers. Kelly was managed by Sony, and Knowles claims that the singer’s manager at the time and the label would “almost force” artists to record with him.
Kelly has recently reappeared in headlines after Lifetime aired its Surviving R. Kelly docuseries. The six-part series featured interviews with several women who claim they were the subject of abuse and predatory behavior from the RB singer, while other interviewees claim to have witnessed inappropriate behavior between him and his then-underaged protege, the late Aaliyah.
R. Kelly has long denied all allegations against him.
Knowles recalls working with Kelly, and says the group members didn’t leave his and ex-wife Tina Knowles Lawson’s sight during the process.
“I was there, and my former wife Tina was there,” he says. “The thing with R. Kelly was, he liked to record late at night, around midnight. And what was different with his studio was that one room had a recording suite, and next door was a club, with 40 or 50 people dancing.”
“The girls were 15, 16. When they went to the bathroom, Tina would go with them,” he continues. “They did not leave our eyes.”
Knowles says he ended up rejecting the song for the group’s first album because he felt it wasn’t good enough.
“I personally rejected the song, because I didn’t think it was a good song,” he explains. “Not just because of [his] reputation — this was around 1998, we had just begun to hear some of those things.'”
However, he does acknowledge that the rumors surrounding Kelly did affect his decision.
“Certainly, it was both of those things,” he notes.
Destiny’s Child’s 1998 self-titled debut album — which had them working with famed producers like Jermaine Dupri and Wyclef Jean — turned out to be a hit without the Kelly song, eventually going platinum.
Kelly did end up writing one Destiny’s Child song that was released — “Stimulate Me” — which was featured on the soundtrack of the 1999 film Life.
Since Surviving R. Kelly aired, a number of celebrities who have worked with Kelly have apologized, including Chance the Rapper and Lady Gaga. In a lengthy social media post on Wednesday, Gaga said she plans to remove their remove their 2013 song “Do What U Want (With My Body)” song off iTunes and other streaming platforms.
“I stand behind these women 1000%, believe them, know they are suffering and in pain, and feel strongly that their voices should be heard and taken seriously,” Gaga wrote of Kelly’s accusers. “What I am hearing about the allegations against R. Kelly is absolutely horrifying and indefensible.”
“As a victim of sexual assault myself, I made both the song and video at a dark time in my life,” she continued. “My intention was to create something extremely defiant and provocative, because I was angry and still hadn’t processed the trauma that had occurred in my own life.”