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 The food fight, the falling-out and two sides of the story emerge ...

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 'The two light-skinned girls are kicking me out.' ...

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 Not good enough, not ghetto enough, and the day the 'understudy' showed up ...

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While Naturi Naughton also admitted the group was "a Latina, a light-skinned black girl and a dark-skinned black girl because we wanted to represent all girls of color," the emphasis management thrust on them to adhere to stereotypical roles — which placed Kiely Williams as the "crazy, eclectic, zany one," Adrienne Bailon as the Latina, and Naughton as the "R&B, soulful, around-the-way brown-skinned girl" — didn't agree with her. She complained that they wanted to see her sporting Timberlands and wearing baggy pants more, which she did wear, just not all the time.

" 'You're not fitting the image that we want,' " she said management told her. "They wanted that ghetto thug girl. They want that 'girl can mack' image, which I thought I was giving them. But I guess it wasn't good enough."

  "I'll move on ... I won't let my past affect what's going to come in the future."
Image wasn't the only thing for which Naughton claimed she was criticized. For months, she said, management had been telling her that her singing wasn't up to par and she was holding the group back. She was prevented from singing on some parts while recording A Girl Can Mack, Naughton said, claiming that the group's vocal coach was instructed to sing in Naughton's place at one session despite Bailon's support.

" 'You're not good enough' is what management kept putting in my ear," Naughton said.

Another not-so-subtle sign that may have caused Naughton to feel pressured to leave was the introduction of an understudy during one of their dance rehearsals in mid-July. She said the girls were told that each would have one as a precautionary measure, but on that day she saw only one, and she was learning Naughton's dance moves. "She was another version of me," she thought. Naughton also said she knew of another understudy who is currently working with the group.

Williams and Bailon admitted that an understudy was brought in for Naughton when the relationship between the members began to fray. However, working without their groupmate was an emotional experience for them, and the three girls had a long conversation, in which tears and hugs were doled out liberally, after the understudy's debut.

"They were like, 'We love you girl, everything's cool as long as we stay tight,' " Naughton recalled. "But I guess it turned into, 'Hey, we have no other choice.' "

3LW have vowed to persevere without Naughton and presumably tour to support A Girl Can Mack. An official replacement or touring member hasn't been announced. Naughton's parts on the album will not be re-recorded, contrary to rumors that surfaced when the record was pushed back from its October 1 release date. The reason for the delay, Williams said, was to replace some songs that were leaked to the Internet with new ones.

Naughton is optimistic about what lies ahead. While she doesn't have solid plans for a solo album, she isn't ruling out that possibility or another in the entertainment field. "I love to sing, I love to dance," she said on her "TRL" appearance. "I might go into acting as well. So whatever I choose to do, hopefully my people will continue to support me."

It also won't bother her if "Naturi Naughton" and "ex-member of 3LW" are tied together for years to come.

"Inevitably, people are always going to tack you on to what you used to be affiliated with," she said. "That's normal. But I'll move on, I'll get past that. I won't let my past affect what's going to come in the future."


Naturi's departure divided 3LW fans into those who believe her story and those who side with Kiely and Adrienne. When A Girl Can Mack drops October 22, will 3LW rebound like Destiny's Child or forever be second string singers? Vote in our on-line poll

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