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 The ladies' strength is their friendship, and they've got tapes of their conversations to prove it ...

Page 2

 Destiny's Child show off their voices with mid-tempo music and hip-hop handiwork ...

Page 3

 "We're going to be good," Michelle says. "We're going to wear tank tops when we're 90!" ...

Destiny's Child on "TRL" 11.08.2004

 Three Friends Reunited

 At The Radio Music Awards 10.25.2004

 At The NFL Opening Kickoff 09.09.2004

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Destiny's Child wrote most of the lyrics on the album, with each of the ladies drawing from their own experiences and opinions — which, they discovered in those recorded conversations, were not always the same.

"The great thing about this album, it's not always one person's point of view," says Beyoncé, relaxing in a green tank top and fedora. "The way that we wrote this record, each verse is really personal for us individually. I may not like the same thing that [Kelly] likes, or [Michelle] might have a different point of view of a certain situation, and we wrote the songs like that."

On some tracks, such as the Rockwilder-produced "If," the ladies alternate lines or even words rather than whole verses. "We tried not to do everything the traditional way of verse, verse, verse. We mixed it up kind of like hip-hop artists," Beyoncé explains, spurring Kelly to deliver a muddled verse from Run-DMC's "Peter Piper."

  Photos: Destiny's Child At The Radio Music Awards 10.25.2004
Throughout recording, Mathew visited the studio maybe three times, and only to check on the progress. All of the innovative lyrical ideas came from the ladies themselves.

"Ninety percent of the time the producer that did the track never came into the studio with them," Mathew reveals. "They just sent the track on a CD and then [Destiny's Child] did their magic. And it's truly them. It's not this producer who's saying, 'OK, now I need you to sing it this way or do it this way.' They do that themselves, and that's why I often challenge when people say things like, 'Well, Rich Harrison gave Destiny's Child this great record.' Or 'Rodney Jerkins gave Destiny's Child this great record.' No they didn't. It was a collaboration that made that record great, and it's the input of the ladies, it's the producing of Beyoncé that made these great records, 'cause we've consistently done it with different people."

"I actually learned things from them," says Harrison, who contributed "Cater 2 U" after working on Rowland and Beyoncé's solo albums, including the latter's "Crazy in Love." "It was really cool to see them so involved in the whole process."

Destiny's Child are listed as the executive producers of Destiny Fulfilled, and perhaps their most significant executive decision was choosing to focus on mid-tempo songs, with just a couple of club tracks and ballads.

"You can really sing on those songs," Beyoncé explains. "It was important for me, the vocal producer of the record, for people to hear Michelle, to hear how soulful and raspy her voice is. To hear how colorful and clear Kelly's voice is and to hear all of us and how different we are. And you can't do that as much with up-tempos."

Along with showcasing their voices, the mid-tempo numbers aim for a more timeless sound. "We wanted to make sure that the songs would be something that we were proud of 10 years from now, 20 years from now," Beyoncé says. "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."

The results, which came together in a three-week burst of creativity, are so far leaving lasting impressions.

"The previous albums, we had hit songs," Mathew says. "This record has hit songs, but also I think it will go down as a fundamentally classic album and I think that's what makes this different, is that they'll get critical acclaim with this record."

"From what I've heard, it's really a beautiful album," Harrison notes. "People are going to be surprised."

There is, of course, a risk that in the time Destiny's Child spent apart, their followers have moved on. Or that the abundance of mid-tempo songs will alienate longtime fans of favorites like "Jumpin' Jumpin'," "Independent Women, Pt. 1" and "Survivor." The ladies, however, are counting on listeners appreciating the personal elements in Destiny Fulfilled, perhaps the same way millions have latched on to one of their peers in contemporary R&B.

"That's definitely one thing I admire about Usher," Kelly said earlier this summer. "He's putting all of his heart and soul in his record, so people are seeing him eye-to-eye. They feel like when they're listening to the record, that [Usher is] talking to you. That's important."

NEXT: Is Destiny Fulfilled the swan song for the group? ...
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Photo: Columbia Records

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 Listen to Destiny Fulfilled on "The Leak"

 "Lose My Breath"
Destiny Fulfilled

Destiny Fulfilled

 "Cater 2 U"
Destiny Fulfilled

Destiny Fulfilled